San Francisco matched its longest skid of the year with its fourth consecutive defeat. At 22-20, the Giants are in no danger of vanishing from the National League West race anytime soon. But their barren offense has aroused more concern than ever. The Giants have scored one run or fewer four times while losing five of their last six games -- or, if you prefer, two runs or fewer seven times while losing eight of their last 12.
Less than 24 hours after going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in a 6-1 loss to the A's, the Giants didn't even create many opportunities to squander in their third 1-0 defeat of the season. They mustered three hits off Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez, who worked eight impressive innings, and closer Andrew Bailey.
Bailey ended the game by striking out Bengie Molina with runners on first and second, marking only the second time the Giants moved a runner into scoring position. That also sealed the luckless fate of Matt Cain, who recorded San Francisco's first complete game of the season.
Cain was wonderfully stubborn, allowing Oakland's leadoff batter to reach base in five of eight innings, yet surrendering just the lone run. As admirably as Cain pitched, the Giants' postgame focus revolved around the offense, which is threatening to nullify the team's formidable pitching for the second consecutive year.
Though there's only so much that manager Bruce Bochy can do to tweak the Giants' lineup, he planned to discuss the issue with his staff and said that Sunday's lineup "probably" will include a noticeable change or two.
One possibility: Andres Torres, who has lifted his batting average to .290, could replace .248-hitting Aaron Rowand in the leadoff spot.
No move is guaranteed to break the silence. Bochy won't alter the order just for the sake of doing something. But he sounded as if he had exhausted his considerable supply of patience.
"I thought we gave away some at-bats today, to be honest," Bochy said. "They're pressing. There's no getting around it. We're in a tough rut. The only way it's going to change is if we change it."
By "giving away" at-bats, Bochy was referring to plate appearances in which the Giants yielded too quickly to Gonzalez by making outs early in the count. For example, Gonzalez (5-3) threw only five pitches in the sixth inning and nine in the seventh. Freed from having to work hard to retire the Giants, Gonzalez recorded 20 consecutive outs from the second through eighth innings.
Molina, who's hitless in his past 17 at-bats, refused to overanalyze the Giants' plight.
"I think we're just not hitting, that's it," Molina said. "A lot of times you try to look around and try to see why. ... We can't do that to ourselves. You can't start looking for reasons -- swinging at the first pitch, swinging at the last pitch, taking pitches and not taking pitches."
Asked if the Giants were capable of sustaining a competitive offense, Molina recalled early April, when San Francisco averaged 6.2 runs per game during an 8-3 start.
"We were scoring earlier, why not now?" Molina said. "We know it's there. We're just not doing it. ... I've been in the league for so long. You're going to go through skids like this as a team and as players. You just have to control yourself and see how you get out of it."
Cain could be excused for believing that he had escaped losing low-scoring games such as this one, which became a habit for him in 2007-08. But the right-hander, who received decent run support last year, is again engulfed in this nightmare. He's 2-4 with a three-game losing streak despite possessing a 2.88 ERA, which mirrors his career 2-5 mark with a 2.44 ERA against Oakland.
Adding to the aggravation, the A's lone run was unearned. After Cain plunked Adam Rosales with a pitch to lead off the third inning, first baseman Aubrey Huff muffed Cliff Pennington's sharp grounder for an error. Rajai Davis' sacrifice bunt advanced the runners before Coco Crisp's sacrifice fly delivered Rosales.
Cain remained typically placid afterward.
"It was definitely a tough loss," he said. "It came down to one situation and it worked out in their favor. The guys played hard from one to nine."