SAN FRANCISCO -- When Ryan Klesko chased Juan Pierre off the basepath and into the grass Sunday, only to have Pierre declared safe at first, it was a telling prelude for the 5-3 loss and the perfect synopsis of the Giants' season. "I've been playing first base my whole life and they've always called them out on those plays," Klesko said. "I'm not going to chase him in the dugout." The Giants have done everything short of chasing players into the dugout this season and still can't seem to get a win no matter how hard they run at opposing teams. The Dodgers completed a three-game sweep Sunday, but like most of the Giants' losses, there was plenty of good to be found in the way San Francisco played and the game could have gone either way.
So why can't the Giants win? They have the defense, as 41-year-old Omar Vizquel suggested when he skied about five feet to snatch a bullet for the third out in the second inning. Maybe it's a lack of clutch hitting. In the past two games, the Giants have left the bases loaded in ballgames close enough that it would have meant the difference in the game. On Sunday, the Giants loaded them again in the eighth only to have Dave Roberts foul off five pitches before striking out. Roberts went 3-for-5, but if he could have traded all three of his hits in for one in the eighth, he would have. But the Giants do have clutch hitters, more clutch hitters than teams with much better records. Bengie Molina is the type of clutch hitter teams dream about. It's almost as if he purposely waits for two strikes, and with runners on base, he's all the better. He gave the Giants their only lead of the game in the first inning with a two-run line drive into left-center field on a 1-2 count. Ray Durham is clutch, too. In the fifth, he delivered a game-tying triple that bounced deep to the warning track to give the Giants another chance. They have the pitching. Although Noah Lowry wasn't in top form Sunday, he did last into the sixth inning and showed a lot of heart as he tried to block James Loney from coming home after Lowry dropped a sacrifice bunt. "I had the ball in my glove, thought I had a hold of it, and it bounced out. Maybe I got a little too excited because I thought I had a chance to double him up when I really should have just been thinking about that one out," Lowry said. Manager Bruce Bochy said Lowry looked like he was fighting himself out there, and after the game, Lowry accepted full blame, saying he wasn't making his pitches. "It was one of those days for me where I had trouble executing," he said. "I fought it all game and it ended up getting the better of me at the end." But before Sunday, Lowry gave the Giants seven consecutive wins at home. He hadn't lost at AT&T Park since his season-opening start on April 6, which was also against the Dodgers. He was hard on himself after the game, but he's certainly not to blame, and neither is the rest of the rotation that is tied for third in the National League with 50 quality starts. Neither is the bullpen that combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings on the heels of a 12-inning game. The Giants bullpen is ranked third in the National League since April 18. Like most of their losses, the Giants played well enough to win Sunday. They just didn't. "You look yourself in the mirror and say, 'Hey, I played all out today,' and that's the way you go home and you're satisfied. You're still not happy," Klesko said. No one has an easy answer to the losses, but rest assured that everyone is upset about it. "I think we all will say how disappointed we are to start the second half and get swept here at home," said Bochy. "It shouldn't happen, but the goals stay the same and that's to go out there and play hard for nine."
Becky Regan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.