Giants swept, drop seventh in a row

Giants swept, drop seventh in a row

PHILADELPHIA -- The Giants made the short bus trip to New York on Thursday night for a three-game series against the Mets, hoping to get some sleep, but knowing it would be a troublesome ride.

A seven-game losing streak will definitely keep you awake.

One player not joining the club in the Big Apple is pitcher Brad Hennessey, who had his second straight poor outing in the Giants' 6-5 defeat to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Hennessey was optioned to Triple-A Fresno, and the team has recalled reliever Al Levine.

Not that the 25-year-old Hennessey is the fall guy for the losing streak -- San Francisco hadn't lost more than six straight since an eight-game slide in May 2002 -- but every move is critical now, every move calculated to not only stop the streak but rev the Giants' sputtering engine.

Hennessey was roughed up for seven hits and six runs over only two-plus frames, and he also took defeat No. 2 in the recent slide, his first coming on May 27, when he went 2 1/3 innings and yielded four runs on seven hits in a 9-3 loss to San Diego.

This is no time for a rookie to learn the pitching trade by taking his lumps.

"He didn't have it tonight," said manager Felipe Alou. "He didn't have good location and didn't have good life on his pitches. But we feel that it's been hurting him since he hasn't been on a regular schedule.

"He pitched very well on a regular rotation and won two of three games, but tonight he had a very flat sinker and his pitches were staying on the same plane."

Lefty Jeff Fassero threw three innings, longest by a Giants reliever this season, and it appears he may be back in the starting rotation as the fifth man.

If the clubhouse mood was rather somber after Thursday's loss, at least the Giants were buoyed that they didn't play passively, waiting for things to happen.

Case in point was when rookie Jason Ellison was on third in the seventh inning after his double down the right-field foul line brought Brian Dallimore home from second to cut the Phillies' deficit to 6-5, then was sacrificed to third.

OK. Critical time. Pinch-hitter Lance Niekro hits a shallow fly to center field, and third base coach Gene Glynn gives Ellison the green light. But outfielder Kenny Lofton nails Ellison by two whiskers at home.

   Jason Ellison  /   CF
Born: 04/04/78
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Chancy play? Sure. But this is the time for more intense action.

"Yeah, they made some throws," said Alou. "We forced them a couple of times. The guy tonight, that's how you throw a guy like Ellison out, making a perfect throw.

"We have to become more aggressive than we are when the circumstances permit. I know the ball wasn't hit very deep, but if we are going to go [that route] we're going to have to play aggressively, with our best runner running."

Ellison agreed, even if his sprinter's speed wasn't quite fast enough.

"Gene told me, 'Make him throw,'" said Ellison, "so I was going for it -- I just didn't beat it out. You have to make him make a play, but we once again came up on the short end.

"We battled well here," said Ellison. "Hopefully that'll carry over into the next series."

The Giants did show some offensive punch. J.T. Snow launched a three-run homer to left in the fourth, then Moises Alou cracked the very next Jon Lieber pitch way over the left-center field wall, his team-leading ninth blast of the season.

Alou has six homers in his last 12 contests.

Before leaving the ruins of the Philadelphia series, Alou emphasized the Giants -- and other teams in baseball -- must start playing more of a "small ball" game and stress what he perceives as lacking this season: fundamental baseball.

"It's going to change for whatever reason," said Alou, noting the aging of current 500-homer hitters, with few slugging youngsters taking their place. "And defense has been left behind.

"Even when Barry [Bonds] comes back this year, we'll have to adjust to the new trends -- hit and run, executing the offense, bunts."

As for calling this a "lost" season, Alou shot back at a Philly reporter, "Imagine if Houston called it a lost season last year."

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.