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SF@OAK: Stewart races home with the game's first run

OAKLAND -- For a brief moment Saturday night, it seemed as if the Giants would overcome a few missed opportunities, some uncharacteristic mistakes and their all-too-characteristic struggles to get runners across the plate and even the Bay Bridge Series.

Instead, left-hander Jonathan Sanchez immediately coughed up a two-run lead the Giants had scratched and clawed to secure, allowing Oakland to put up four runs in the fifth inning and go on to beat San Francisco, 4-2, in the Oakland Coliseum.

The Giants dropped their third straight contest -- their first three-game losing skid since getting swept by the Marlins on May 24-26 -- and have scored only two runs in each loss. San Francisco left 10 runners on base despite matching the A's with seven hits, ruining potential scoring opportunities with a mix of poor baserunning, a lack of timely hitting and a dearth of productive outs.

"That's been pretty much the case the last few days. We're just having a hard time driving in a run," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's what it comes down to, and that's what wins ballgames for you. They got some big hits. We didn't."

Both of the Giants' runs Saturday came in an inning that saw A's third baseman Scott Sizemore trip over his own feet on Chris Stewart's infield single; an Andres Torres walk; a throwing error that turned Emmanuel Burriss' sacrifice bunt into two bases; and a sacrifice fly by Aubrey Huff. That accumulation of bad defense and good fortune gave San Francisco a 2-0 lead, which looked strong enough to squeak by, given the way Sanchez had shut out Oakland through four innings of work and the Giants' reliable bullpen, which turned in 3 1/3 shutout innings Saturday.

"We're getting them out there. We're just not getting a hit with runners in scoring position, and those things come back to haunt you," Bochy said. "The way we scored wasn't really pretty, but you take it.

"Runs are a premium for us, and we got a two-run lead. That's nice to have. We haven't seen that in a little while."

But the A's immediately responded in the bottom of the fifth, as scuffling first baseman Daric Barton's double to right field scored Sizemore and cut the Giants' lead in half. Cliff Pennington then slammed a two-out double down the left-field line to score Barton and tie the game.

And Oakland didn't let up. Stewart said Sanchez was throwing noticeably more strikes Saturday than he normally does, and the A's picked up on that after their first time through the order, taking a more aggressive approach at the plate by the time the fifth inning rolled around.

A wild pitch by Sanchez allowed Pennington to move to third, and Coco Crisp walked then stole second. Up came Hideki Matsui, who drilled a seeing-eye single into right field to score both runners and give the A's a two-run lead. Sanchez and Stewart said the pitch was where they wanted it, but Matsui simply got the best of the left-hander.

"He's been getting some of his best swings against left-handers, certainly since I've been here," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I don't even give it a second thought. He's always been able to hit left-handers."

"That's a play that nobody can make. It was in the hole," added Sanchez, who fell to 4-5 on the year with a 3.71 ERA. "He's a good hitter. That's why he's here. I just went out there and gave it everything I had. It was his day."

And once again, it was not the Giants' day at the plate. They loaded the bases in the second but couldn't score. In the fourth, Cody Ross got to second on a one-out single by Nate Schierholtz, but Aaron Rowand and Brandon Crawford recorded quick outs to end the inning.

After fumbling away several scoring chances early on, the Giants failed to capitalize on another opportunity in the sixth. Schierholtz lined a leadoff double to left but was tagged out in a rundown the next at-bat. Crawford stroked a single and pushed Rowand to third, but a pinch-hit strikeout by Pat Burrell and another punchout by Torres brought a quick halt to San Francisco's would-be rally.

"It's tough. It's just one of those things. We're not coming through right now," Stewart said. "We're going to keep going out there, keep having confidence, and it's going to be one of those things where hopefully it turns around soon and we get those big knocks when we need to and try to put some more runs across for our pitchers."

"There's no getting around it: It's frustrating for the guys. They're trying. We're in a rut right now," Bochy added. "They're trying to get settled in. There's no excuse. We're better than this. We've just got to go out there and compete and find a way to get it done. Right now, we're not." Comments