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Giants edged for third straight game

Giants edged for third straight game

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PHOENIX -- The game ended Sunday just the way the last two had concluded: with the tying run on base and the Giants unable to push home that critical run.

"It was the same thing all weekend," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy after the Giants dropped a 5-4 decision at Chase Field to lose all three games in the series by one run. "We had our chances. What we needed was a big hit, and that eluded us all series."

This time, it was Omar Vizquel and Rich Aurilia with the bases loaded. On Saturday, it was Ray Durham and Dave Roberts with a runner on second. On Friday, it was Durham with runners on first and second after Barry Bonds was walked intentionally. All three situations netted the same results: a big zilch.

What can you say when your big bopper (Bonds) is on base nine times in 10 chances in the series and scores only one run -- on the back end of his own two-run homer, the 742nd of his career?

"We just couldn't get it done here," Bochy said. "We just came out of a series where we did everything right [in a three-game sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles]. And this series, including myself, nothing went right."

So now the topsy-turvy Giants return to San Francisco on Monday night to open their longest homestand of the season. A 10-game home set that starts against the Rockies and ends against the Mets will help determine whether this is really the team that started the season 1-6 or the one that won eight in a row before it was drop-kicked here by the Diamondbacks.

This weekend, the D-backs got enough pitching, got every timely hit and left for Los Angeles on a five-game winning streak.

"We just missed out on opportunities," said Matt Morris, the Giants' starter on Sunday, who allowed 12 hits and all five runs in seven innings, including Orlando Hudson's seventh-inning, bases-loaded, two-run squibbler of a double down the third-base line that provided the winning runs.

"Three losses are three losses, it doesn't matter how it happens," Morris said.

The Giants had survived Randy Johnson, who worked the first six innings and squandered a 3-1 lead, allowing a mammoth 420-foot, sixth-inning leadoff homer by Ray Durham to left-center. Bochy, whose bullpen had blown the lead Saturday, and ruined Matt Cain's six innings of one-hit work, pushed Morris to the brink.

Arizona loaded the bases on three successive singles in the seventh before Hudson hit the ball off the end of his bat past Aurilia, inserted at third base Sunday with Pedro Feliz in left field.

It was another bad break in a series of bad breaks. Asked if he had put the ball where he wanted, Morris said:

"Obviously not. Any time they get a hit, whether it's a cue shot or a homer, it isn't very good. It ended up costing us the game."

On Friday night, Stephen Drew's two-run, sixth-inning double provided the margin of victory. On Saturday night, Scott Hairston hit a three-run, pinch-hit, seventh-inning homer. Like Sunday, the D-Backs were able to hang on.

This time, they didn't even have their closer, Jose Valverde, who was held out by manager Bob Melvin after closing three games in a row and four of the last five. Instead, Melvin called on Brandon Lyon, who turned the ninth inning into another horror show with one out and nobody on before registering his first save.

Bonds pinch-hit, walked on four pitches and was replaced on the base paths by Roberts, the team's most adroit baserunner. Ryan Klesko singled Roberts to second. And then Randy Winn hit a dying-quail liner to right-center that seemed as if it was sinking in. Roberts took the conservative route and waited for the play to develop.

"He couldn't read it," Bochy said. "What can you do?"

Right fielder Carlos Quentin made a game dive for it, but by the time the ball dribbled away, Roberts could do nothing except stop at third base. Another opportunity lost.

"In this ballpark, the ball just stays up, it just carries," Roberts said. "It's just risk vs. reward. The worst-case scenario was the bases loaded with one out as opposed to the end of the game if he does make a spectacular play. He made an attempt at that play, so it was not worth taking that risk."

In hindsight, perhaps it was. Vizquel popped foul to first base and Aurilia popped to short. Game and series over and out. And deja vu all over again.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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