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Notes: Strikes a problem for Lowry

Notes: Strikes a problem for Lowry

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Noah Lowry's nightmare under sunlight Monday resulted in one of the most horrific outings a pitcher can endure.

Lowry followed an erratic performance in last Thursday's Cactus League opener with an appearance that almost defied belief. He walked nine of the 12 Texas Rangers batters he faced and allowed four first-inning runs in the Giants' 8-6, 10-inning exhibition loss.

Lowry didn't give up a hit, mainly because he threw so few hittable pitches. Twelve of his 50 pitches were strikes, bringing his two-game totals to 58 balls, 27 strikes and 12 walks in 23 batters faced over 2 1/3 innings.

Lowry was so disgusted that he refused to speak to reporters and instead issued a statement, but manager Bruce Bochy related that the left-hander struggled to grip the ball, a common Spring Training complaint among pitchers trying to cope with the dry Arizona air.

Bochy insisted that Lowry, who missed last season's final month with elbow tightness, felt fine physically.

"There's not much to say when you don't go out and throw any strikes," Lowry told a club spokesman. "I'm just upset. I'm upset that my spring has started the way it has."

Until Lowry rights himself, the Giants will privately wonder whether their No. 3 starter is following the path set by the likes of Steve Blass, Mark Wohlers and Rick Ankiel -- talented, successful pitchers who suddenly couldn't find the strike zone. Before leaving the clubhouse, Lowry studied videotape to examine his pitching motion.

"He's going to have to deal with it," Bochy said. "But he's a tough enough kid. He'll bounce back."

Right-hander Kevin Correia, Lowry's offseason workout partner, expressed complete confidence in his teammate and friend.

"He's one of the most mentally tough guys on this team," Correia said. "I don't think an outing like that is going to shake him from his goals."

It would shake lesser men, however.

Lowry threw six balls to start the game and walked the first five hitters. He didn't prompt a swing from a Rangers batter until his 25th pitch, when Ben Broussard hit a sacrifice fly. The Rangers batted around in the first inning without recording an official at-bat until Ian Kinsler flied to center for the final out. Before that, Lowry walked seven and allowed two sacrifice flies.

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A determined Lowry returned for the second inning but was lifted after walking Jason Ellison on four pitches and Michael Young on a 3-2 count.

By then, Lowry had flung three balls to the backstop on the fly -- he endured this indignity twice in his previous outing -- and overthrew first base on a pickoff attempt.

Correia, who recalled being removed from a relief appearance in Triple-A after throwing 12 consecutive balls, could relate to Lowry's ordeal.

"You can't get too down on yourself," Correia said. "It's still a Spring Training game. You can go out the next outing and pitch great."

Game developments: Ray Durham, his sore right shoulder sufficiently healed, played his first game at second base and went 2-for-3 with a double.

Regaining his slider and changeup after a five-run, one-inning outing last Thursday, Correia surrendered one hit in three shutout innings to strengthen his grip on the No. 5 starting spot.

Right-hander Merkin Valdez continued his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery by pitching two shutout innings. But left-hander Steve Kline surrendered Travis Metcalf's eighth-inning double that broke a 4-4 tie. The Giants pulled even in the ninth on Nate Schierholtz's RBI double and Travis Denker's run-scoring single, but Randy Messenger yielded a pair of runs in the 10th.

Injury update: Bengie Molina (left quadriceps) predicted that he'll join the lineup by Thursday or Friday. The Giants' No. 1 catcher and projected cleanup hitter has not appeared in an exhibition game. Bochy said that catcher Guillermo Rodriguez (hip, back) is expected to be sidelined for a couple of days.

Roster moves: The Giants reassigned five players to Minor League camp: catchers Pablo Sandoval and Jackson Williams and outfielders Ben Copeland, Brian Horwitz and Mike McBryde. This left 50 players in big league camp.

Up next: The Giants confront their first National League West foe of the spring, the San Diego Padres, on Tuesday in Peoria, Ariz. San Francisco will face San Diego only one other time (March 12) during the Cactus League. In a starting matchup pitting a future Hall of Famer against The Future, San Diego's Greg Maddux will oppose Tim Lincecum.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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