Bullpen struggles as Giants lose fifth straight

Bullpen struggles as Giants lose fifth straight

Bullpen struggles as Giants lose fifth straight
SAN FRANCISCO -- Count on Giants general manager Brian Sabean to do something, anything, in an attempt to improve his ballclub before Tuesday's Trade Deadline strikes at 1 p.m. PT.

Monday, Sabean watched the Giants extend their scoreless-innings streak to 22, reinforcing the need for offensive help. Then he saw San Francisco's bullpen, considered an asset through much of the season, crumble in an 8-7, 10-inning loss to the New York Mets.

The Giants scored twice in the ninth to force extra innings and nearly rallied past the Mets in the 10th.

"We don't expect anyone to quit wearing orange and black," right-hander Sergio Romo said.

But those colors seem to rouse Scott Hairston, who homered twice. The longtime Giants nemesis delivered a tiebreaking homer in the 10th inning off closer Santiago Casilla and a two-run homer in the eighth off Romo that forged a 4-4 deadlock.

With the score even at 6, Hairston led off the 10th by yanking Casilla's hanging 1-1 curveball into the left-field seats.

"I just told myself not to get too excited, just to hit the ball up the middle, and I was able to pull it to left-center," Hairston said. "In that situation, I wasn't trying to hit a home run. I was just trying to hit the ball hard. Fortunately, it ended up over the fence."

The drive followed roughly the same trajectory as the homer Hairston hit off Romo to spark a four-run uprising that gave New York a 6-4 edge. Hairston has 14 home runs in 236 career plate appearances against the Giants.

Until last week, Romo had allowed only one home run all season. Now he has yielded homers in back-to-back games, including Hanley Ramirez's game-winning clout for the Dodgers in last Friday's 10th inning.

"When I don't execute, that's what happens," Romo said. "It's the big leagues. You can't expect anything else. It's been a great ride. I'm still on a good ride. You have to come back and work hard. Keep pushing forward. The team needs me to be good, so I have to be good. I'm down for that."

The Mets added a run in the 10th as Jason Bay walked, advanced to third on Mike Baxter's single and came home on Rob Johnson's fielder's-choice bunt. The choice was made by reliever Clay Hensley, who fielded the bunt and looked toward second base in hopes of starting a double play -- unaware that Bay was charging home and could have been thrown out easily.

That proved to be a critical run, because Mets reliever Manny Acosta walked a pair of Giants in their half to the 10th to set up Nate Schierholtz's two-out RBI single. Up came Brandon Belt, who crushed a first-pitch fastball. But his bid for a game-winning, extra-base hit settled into the glove of Mets center fielder Jordany Valdespin a couple of steps in front of the center-field barrier.

According to the consensus in the Giants' clubhouse, Belt's drive might have caromed off the wall or cleared at almost any other time of day. But not late in the evening, with hints of fog swirling around AT&T Park.

"The heavy air comes in here and knocks balls down out there," Belt said. "You can't do anything about it."

San Francisco remained atop the National League West standings, leading second-place Los Angeles by percentage points. Yet the Giants need help, as their season-high five-game losing streak reflects. The Giants reportedly have been stymied in their efforts to deal for Philadelphia right fielder Hunter Pence, who would deepen the lineup considerably, and their hope of obtaining Seattle reliever Brandon League was trumped by the Dodgers. But Sabean has never been one to stand idly as the Deadline approaches.

"Believe me, he's looked at everything, talked to every club, not just about hitters," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've been pretty good in the bullpen, especially the two guys who had a rough night tonight. But anytime somebody is out there who's going to make you better, you're going to do it. It makes sense, just like a position player."

As for the game, Bochy said, "We swung the bats better. But we made some mistakes and they came back to get us."

In fact, the Giants amassed a season-high 16 hits yet wasted most of them, going 5-for-18 with runners in scoring position.

The Giants also struggled defensively, besides Hensley's lapse. Ronny Cedeno's two-run, fourth-inning double was set up by David Wright's bloop single, a popup to shallow center where outfielders Angel Pagan and Schierholtz and second baseman Ryan Theriot converged. Though the outfielders had easier plays, Theriot tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch and dropped the ball. And the final run in New York's eighth-inning rally came home when Rob Johnson's grounder trickled off third baseman Marco Scutaro's glove.

As if the Giants didn't have enough concerns, Pagan left the game in the seventh inning with a bruised right hand -- Bochy said he punched something in frustration after one of his at-bats -- and Aubrey Huff aggravated his troublesome right knee while running to first base during a sixth-inning pinch-hit appearance.

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