SAN FRANCISCO -- Taking a cue from his most recent start at AT&T Park -- a one-hit complete game against the D-backs --- Madison Bumgarner pitched eight dominant innings in the rubber game of the Giants' series with the Reds on Wednesday.
But with the Giants' offensive struggles persisting, one mistake proved consequential, as Cincinnati used a Jay Bruce solo home run in the seventh inning to defeat the Giants, 2-1, and give the club its fourth consecutive series loss.
It also handed the Giants losses in four of Bumgarner's last five starts, despite Bumgarner allowing a combined seven earned runs. Whatever the cause, San Francisco can't seem to find a rhythm at the plate when the ace of its pitching staff is on the mound. The group managed only four hits a day after generating nine runs.
"It's frustrating for those guys," said manager Bruce Bochy, whose club has scored two runs or fewer five times since the All-Star break. "We're having a hard time getting him wins."
The Giants' defense didn't help matters, either. The Reds tied the score in the fifth, thanks in large part to a fielding error from Angel Pagan. Eugenio Suarez hit a liner toward the left fielder with Brandon Phillips on first. But the ball caromed off Pagan's glove, allowing Phillips to reach third base. Phillips then scored on a sacrifice fly from Tucker Barnhart.
Aside from Bruce's fourth home run against the Giants in three games, Bumgarner dispatched Reds batters seamlessly. It was a start, as catcher Buster Posey admitted, that you want to take advantage of. However, the lack of run support plagued the four-time All-Star once again this month.
"For whatever reason, it's happened here lately," said Bumgarner. "We've been through this plenty of times."
The Giants seemed to function interchangeably while building the best record in the Majors before the All-Star break. Despite Opening Day starters Hunter Pence, Matt Duffy and Joe Panik heading to the disabled list for extended periods of time, the club kept winning.
But after losing nine of their last 11 contests, it's clear the Giants might be missing some of those individuals' ability at the plate.
The club is no stranger to slumps, though. Posey noted the team would be on pace to "win 115 games" if periods of regression didn't occur. He stated a return from someone like Pence could provide a necessary boost.
"I think having any of those guys back will be a boost emotionally, mentally," said Posey.
Bumgarner said the Giants' lack of offense "is just the way the game goes sometimes." It hasn't affected how he does his job, and he appeared optimistic despite the team's ineffectiveness recently.
"We've got a lot of guys that have been through a lot of adversity and been on the championship teams," said Bumgarner. "We just got to keep going; it's the only way to do it."
Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.