CINCINNATI -- The adversity of Jake Peavy's 15th Major League season is forcing him to summon all the wisdom and patience he has gained in the previous 14.
The Giants right-hander has dropped three of four decisions, most recently Wednesday's 7-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds that ended San Francisco's 3-3, two-city trip. He owns an inflated 9.00 ERA through six starts. Manager Bruce Bochy has maintained steadfast belief in Peavy, his staff ace more than a decade ago when both were with San Diego.
But nobody needs to tell either man that Peavy's performances aren't self-sustaining. He must regain the effectiveness and consistency he maintained in his first year and a half with the Giants, when he went 14-10. Otherwise, Peavy's in danger of losing his spot in the starting rotation.
"There's nobody in the room who understands the need for improvement more than me," said Peavy, who yielded a career-worst four home runs, including three in Cincinnati's five-run second inning. This marked the first time in Peavy's Cy Young Award-winning career that he allowed that many long balls in one inning.
Poor pitch location is most often cited as the source of Peavy's troubles. That's usually the case when a pitcher surrenders an excess of homers. Insufficient stuff also can be an issue, but Peavy's eight strikeouts in six innings against the Reds indicated he possesses enough skill to survive.
"I really feel like I settled down and executed better, worked with the stuff I had, instead of trying to bull through it there in the second," Peavy said.
Inconsistency is definitely plaguing Peavy. Just look at the linescores. Last Friday, for instance, Peavy permitted six runs in the third inning at New York after breezing through the first two innings.
"In all but one start, not being able to put a full start together is the problem," Peavy said. "You can't wipe an inning away."
He admitted he must work harder at "finding that rhythm and staying in it. It's not a matter of stuff, really. It just comes down to execution. There has to be way better execution, especially when stuff goes bad. ... I haven't been able to catch it for more than a couple of innings at a time."
It's worth remembering that Peavy endured a horrific start to the 2015 season due mainly to a back injury, then recovered to pitch admirably. He allowed eight runs spanning 7 2/3 innings in his first two starts, then returned from the disabled list in July and went 8-4 with a 3.15 ERA in his last 17 outings.
"He's as tough as there is," Bochy said. "I can assure you that he's hard on himself, harder than anybody. I'm sure he's not happy or content with the way things are going, but he's been through it. He went through it last year. He bounced back and pitched well. You look to the old adage: it's not how you start, it's how you finish. We'll get him right. He'll get it right and get on a roll here."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.