SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' fresh faces are generating the same old results, adding a layer to the club's season-long despair. San Francisco's 4-2 loss Thursday night to the Cincinnati Reds was its eighth in 10 games. Unless the Giants stage a reversal in their remaining nine games, momentum entering the offseason -- whether it's from a late burst of victories or encouraging performances from younger players -- will be scant. "This is the kind of year when you're hoping to finish strong, and we're not doing it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Opportunities have developed for the Giants' prospects. Steadiness hasn't. Rookies Rajai Davis, Eugenio Velez and Nate Schierholtz, who started against the Reds, have thrived in brief stretches. So has rookie Daniel Ortmeier, who didn't play Thursday, and near-rookie Kevin Frandsen, who contributed an RBI double. But Bochy would prefer to see more production from the less-experienced Giants, who are unofficially auditioning for roles in 2008. This wasn't the case Thursday, when the Giants mustered five hits off Reds starter Homer Bailey (3-2) and four relievers. Asked if the lineups, which vary almost daily, have muted the offense, Bochy said that shouldn't be a factor. "A lot of guys are getting a lot of playing time lately," he said. "Just go out there and swing the bat, that's what you have to do. ... We have to figure out a way to put runs on the board. We haven't done that consistently all year." The absences of Barry Bonds (sprained right big toe) and Ken Griffey Jr. (strained left groin) cleared a path for youth to shine. Each team started four rookies. But that didn't shuffle the deck enough for Matt Cain (7-16), who allowed two runs in six innings yet absorbed another luckless defeat. "You have to keep competing, try to stay in as long as possible and scrap," Cain said, maintaining his composure despite having received two runs or less in 21 of his 31 starts this season. Trailing 1-0, the Reds broke through with a pair of runs in the fifth off Cain, who walked eighth-place hitter Buck Coats to open the inning. Bailey forced out Coats on an attempted sacrifice before Norris Hopper rapped his third single in a row. The runners advanced on a wild pitch, although television replays indicated that Pedro Feliz blocked Bailey from third base and tagged him out after taking catcher Guillermo Rodriguez's throw. Jeff Keppinger singled off Velez's glove at second base, scoring Bailey and Hopper. The play at third nagged the Giants. "It sounds like we had them there," Bochy said. "We've looked at [replays]. I thought he was clearly out," Cain said. Out of the game after throwing 113 pitches, Cain lamented not lasting longer. "I got in good situations where I got in 0-2 counts and wasted pitches instead of getting guys out," he said. "I can probably think of four times I went from 0-2 to 3-2." While the Giants struggled offensively, the Reds received a boost from Jason Ellison, the former San Francisco outfielder who launched a pinch-hit homer off Dan Giese leading off the seventh inning. Ellison displayed plenty of hustle but little of that kind of power during his stints with the Giants from 2003-06. Interestingly, he expressed not revenge toward his former team, but longing. "I still love it here. I miss it here," said Ellison, who was traded to Seattle as Spring Training ended, then claimed off waivers by the Reds on Aug. 8. "There was no hard feelings here. I love this organization over here, and I hope to come back and play here one day, to tell you the truth." On a day when the Giants announced that Tim Lincecum wouldn't pitch again this season to preserve his arm, Bailey, Cincinnati's version of Lincecum, returned to the Majors triumphantly. Making his first Reds appearance since July 7, the rookie right-hander, who endured a demotion to Triple-A and a groin injury since then, surrendered one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Bailey retired 15 batters in a row between Schierholtz's first-inning RBI single and Randy Winn's sixth-inning double. "I actually was a little surprised with his velocity tonight," said Giants utility man Rich Aurilia, who spent 2005-06 with the Reds. "Watching him a couple of times this year, it seemed like his velocity was 89-90 [mph]. Tonight he was getting up to 94. He's their guy for the future. I like the people over there. Hopefully, it works out for them."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.