SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' miscues Sunday didn't qualify for any blooper reels. But their goofs will replay themselves on a continuous loop in manager Bruce Bochy's mind.Striving to explain his team's 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bochy summarized the afternoon as a "strange day. ... We seemed out of sorts." The decision that ended the Giants' three-game winning streak featured redeeming elements, such as Ryan Vogelsong's 6 1/3 effective innings in his 2012 debut and several outstanding defensive plays. But that stew included 0-for-11 hitting with runners in scoring position, sprinkled with a dash of baserunning and defensive blunders. "We're making way too many mistakes right now," Bochy said. The chronological progression of the Giants' major lapses captured their flawed effort. In the second inning, Vogelsong did not cover first base quickly enough on Alex Presley's bases-loaded grounder to the right side, giving Pittsburgh its second run.
"When it came off the bat, it kind of looked like it was coming back at me, and it froze me for a second," Vogelsong said. "I couldn't field it, so I got over there as fast as I could."Vogelsong said that the inning's most glaring shortcoming was the full-count walk he issued to eighth-place hitter Michael McKenry that filled the bases.
"That changes the whole thing," Vogelsong said, pointing out that had he retired McKenry, he would have faced opposing pitcher Kevin Correia with two outs and might have been able to escape the inning with just Garrett Jones' leadoff homer on the scoreboard.Trailing, 2-1, the Giants courted trouble in the eighth when Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee singled off Dan Otero to open the inning. Neil Walker bunted toward third baseman Pablo Sandoval, whose wild throw past first base enabled McCutchen to score. The error -- San Francisco's National League-high 14th of the season -- set up Josh Harrison's run-scoring squeeze bunt. In the bottom of the inning, Angel Pagan drilled a leadoff triple but held as Melky Cabrera hit a grounder to first that should have scored him easily. Pagan told Bochy that he couldn't track the ball, causing him to hesitate -- which in turn left him reluctant to break for home once he realized what had occurred. "It didn't really change the game," Bochy said. "But that was one of those small mistakes that came back to haunt us." Perhaps the Giants' productive offense was due for a lull. San Francisco ranked second in the NL entering Sunday with an average of 5.25 runs per game and was the Majors' only team to score at least four runs in each game. But the Giants moved only three runners as far as second base in six innings against Correia, who yielded three hits. "Correia did a good job of mixing it up," catcher Buster Posey said of the ex-Giant. "He didn't repeat pitches too much and he stayed away from the middle of the plate." The Giants' lack of offense nullified Vogelsong's encouraging 2012 debut. Recovered from a strained lower back that forced him to begin the season on the disabled list, Vogelsong surrendered two runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings. Though Vogelsong's statistical line looked impressive, he described his performance as a "battle."
Added Vogelsong, "I was inconsistent. I was fighting myself all day."Vogelsong retired 12 consecutive batters from the third through seventh innings. But he attributed this streak to ample fielding help. Indeed, the Giants actually looked impressive defensively more often than not. Right fielder Nate Schierholtz began the series of eye-catching plays in the first inning, ranging to the fence at the second archway and leaping to catch McCutchen's drive. Two innings later, shortstop Brandon Crawford gave fresh meaning to the term "heads-up play" by grabbing Posey's wide throw and swiping his tag on a sliding McCutchen's face to foil a stolen-base attempt. Second baseman Emmanuel Burriss opened the fourth inning by diving to snare Pedro Alvarez's grounder and throwing from his knees for the out at first base. Sandoval recorded the most acrobatic play in the sixth with his over-the-shoulder grab of Jones' popup. Racing toward the Giants' bullpen, Sandoval started to tumble as he made the grab and slid on his posterior as the ball nearly squirted out of his glove. McCutchen lost another bid for an extra-base hit in the eighth as Gregor Blanco, who entered the game as part of a double-switch one batter earlier, outran a deep fly to the right-center-field gap.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.