Giants' struggles continue as team struggles to convert key chances against surging Athletics

Janie McCauley / The Associated Press
July 8, 2014 11:08 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. - The San Francisco Giants' frustration shows from all angles.

From right fielder Hunter Pence provoking the fans in right field, to reliever Jean Machi being ejected for arguing a balk, and manager Bruce Bochy unsuccessfully trying for replay overturns.

Little has gone right of late for the Giants, who lost for the fifth time in seven games with a 6-1 defeat to the surging Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.

Madison Bumgarner didn't allow a hit until Jed Lowrie's blooper leading off the third that landed in front of a charging Pence in right field. He avoided a collision with second baseman Joe Panik, then Pence and the fans in the elevated right-field seats got into it.

"They're a lot of fun out there. They're creative, they're rowdy, they're loud," he said. "It's a baseball atmosphere. They were razzing me a little bit, and I went and made a play. A little fired up. I don't really remember what happened. I just made the play and was in the moment and kind of had fun with it."

Coco Crisp hit an RBI single and stole his 16th base and Nick Punto doubled in a run during a four-run third against Bumgarner (9-7), handed his second three-start skid of the year.

"We love playing at home. The crowds were awesome, that really does help," Punto said. "Tonight's atmosphere was incredible."

The A's (57-33) matched their best winning streak of 2014 and concluded their homestand 6-0, just the 11th undefeated homestand of six or more games in Oakland history.

The low-budget club with baseball's best record has won 11 of its past 12 games at the Coliseum, bouncing back from a three-game sweep at Detroit last week.

The Giants have been outscored 11-1 in the first two games of the Bay Bridge Series following a 5-0 loss Monday. The interleague series now shifts across San Francisco Bay to AT&T Park for two.

San Francisco avoided being shut out in consecutive games for the first time since July 28-29, 2012, but lost for the 11th time in its past 13 games at Oakland dating to 2010.

"It's hard to watch other teams ... it seems like they can break their bat and get a hit — and they're hitting balls hard, too — and then our guys, everybody's crushing the ball and it seems like it's always at somebody," Bumgarner said. "That's the way the game goes but, man, it's a frustrating time."

Sonny Gray (9-3) reached eight or more strikeouts for the fourth time in seven impressive innings, having struck out nine twice. He is on a nice roll after losing back-to-back starts to the Orioles and Yankees on June 7 and 13.

Pablo Sandoval returned to the Giants' lineup for the first time since leaving Saturday's game at San Diego in the first inning with a bruised left elbow.

Bochy requested a review of a close play at first in which Sandoval was called out trying to beat out a fourth-inning grounder. The call was upheld after a replay review of 1 minute, 28 seconds.

Bochy came out again in the eighth to argue after Machi was called for a balk. Machi was then ejected by plate umpire Angel Hernandez as the reliever walked off the field at the end of the inning.

"I know how frustrating it is when you get a call on you that you don't think is a strike but it works both ways," Bochy said.

"It does become counter-productive because now you're not only competing against the pitcher, you're thinking about the calls. We took some called third strikes, too. It's something that we can't think about too much because it's going to make things worse."

NOTES: Giants 2B Marco Scutaro, who hasn't played this year because of a lower back strain, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and a run scored for Triple-A Fresno. "We're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," Bochy said. "He's feeling good." ... A's starters have thrown six or more innings while allowing one or fewer runs in six straight games, their longest streak since at least 1914.


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