OAKLAND -- The Giants have at times this season gone through wicked slumps at the plate. There was a stretch when they couldn't count on 40 percent of the rotation turn after turn. The bullpen has been shaky many times during the season, most notably on Tuesday night.
But night in and night out, Bruce Bochy could count on his defense. It is perhaps the biggest reason the Giants entered this series with 49 wins. They are always solid defensively, and often spectacular.
On Wednesday, they were an absolute mess.
It cost the Giants a game, 7-1 to the A's, and Jake Peavy a chance to continue his hot streak. The Giants officially made three errors, and there were at least three other plays that weren't handled well. One error, a dropped pop-up, came on a collision that left Ramiro Pena's left ankle in a boot for the next five to seven days, and the Giants once again digging through their minor league options for a call-up.
"We've just got to clean it up," Bochy said. "That's one thing we were doing very well: catching the ball. You deal with streaks where you have trouble scoring runs, but one thing we have to do is consistently catch the ball."
The first error was the most costly, because it was the one that knocked Pena out. He drifted back on a one-out pop-up in the third as Mac Williamson charged forward. They hit hard, with Pena staying down and Marcus Semien cruising into third for a three-base error. He scored the first run a batter later on a bunt.
"I called it late and he didn't hear me, and I didn't hear him," Williamson said. "We're both trying to make a play. It was tough communicating."
Pena left the game two innings later and had an X-ray that came back negative. He'll get an MRI on Thursday, and it's likely he'll have to go on the DL, where the Giants already have two starting infielders and two backups. Pena was only starting because Joe Panik (concussion), Kelby Tomlinson (thumb) and Ehire Adrianza (foot) are sidelined. The early speculation was that either Grant Green or Rando Morena would get the call, meaning the Giants will have to clear another 40-man roster spot. They had to get creative Wednesday to open up a spot for Ruben Tejada, adding minor leaguer Chris Heston to the 60-day DL.
The collision was costly for Peavy, too. He would have gotten the first eight outs on 27 pitches. Instead he had a runner on third and soon a deficit. Coco Crisp hit a ball to the gap that scooted by Angel Pagan for a triple. Jed Lowrie followed with a homer that ticked off a leaping Williamson's glove.
"I thought I had it when I came down," he said. "I heard the crowd and I looked down and it wasn't in my glove. I felt that's a play I should have made."
Williamson nearly wiped that stretch away in the fourth, coming up with the bases loaded. His liner down the line was about 10 feet from being a go-ahead grand slam. A pitch later, Williamson hit into a double play. Earlier he had halted a rally by sliding past second base.
"It's kind of a frustrating night," he said. "I felt like I didn't give our guys a chance."
That wasn't quite true on a night when there were plenty of mistakes to go around. Pagan followed his first misplay by failing to catch a ball to the wall in the fourth.
"I lost it in the sky," he said. "It's not an excuse. I didn't catch it."
Later, a single to left skipped under Pagan's glove, with the runner taking second. That sequence set Peavy off, and his face bulged as he screamed in frustration. Peavy said he shoulders much of the blame, too. He gave up two homers in between all the defensive mistakes.
"It's a team game and you've got to pick your teammates up," Peavy said. "We've just got to sharpen our concentration on all fronts. As a collective group, we didn't do nearly enough tonight and we understand that."
Peavy wasn't pointing fingers. Yes, the Giants bungled plays in the field, but they also scored just one run against a rookie pitcher. They're banged-up, but many of the mistakes Wednesday were the kind you would expect the first week of spring training.
Peavy chose to turn to perspective, noting that it's a long season and the Giants are still in a good spot. He said there's no need for team meetings. They remain six games up in the division, and consider this series a needed wake-up call. Everything could turn Thursday, when Madison Bumgarner takes the mound. He'll hit for himself, Bochy said.
"There's been no panic," Peavy said. "We understand the pace and clip we were on. It's hard to be perfect everyday."
The Giants were far from it Wednesday. They have lost this series, and done so in an ugly way, but they weren't hanging heads.
"I promise you everybody will show up at three tomorrow thinking Bum is winning," Peavy said. "That's all you can really ask for."