Giants come back, but fall late
Bonds becomes NL home run king; Alou goes yard in loss
MILWAUKEE -- If you look at the videotape of this Giants road trip, you'd get dizzy seeing the same events happen over and over again, as if it were on constant loop, and always with the same lousy ending.Groundhog Day all over again. The Giants want to wake up from this seemingly never-ending nightmare, but Saturday night's 10-8 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park seemed yet another replay of the dismal 1-7 road trip, which mercifully ends after Sunday's afternoon affair. When Giants starter Noah Lowry yielded five runs in the first inning, there was a collective here-we-go-again gasp from his teammates, who have seen the starters give up 26 runs in the initial frame in the seven defeats. Yes, the Giants don't have the word "quit" in their vocabulary -- they rallied from a 6-1 deficit to go ahead 8-6 -- but they haven't seen "victory" used very often lately, with San Francisco winning only three of its last nine games after still being in contention for a playoff spot. And beaten by the likes of 14-4, 20-8, 12-4 and 13-12 during this junket can play games with the mind, the Giants realizing all their efforts this season have been futile. There likely will be no playoffs, only time off. Despite blasting his 26th homer of the season and his 734th lifetime, setting a National League all-time record, outfielder Barry Bonds admitted he hasn't seen such a bizarre series of games for a long time. "They've been ugly," he said. "Weird. I haven't seen anything like that since my young days at Pittsburgh." Whatever joy Bonds might have felt for establishing the NL mark was lessened by another frustrating loss, and manager Felipe Alou was subdued and fairly matter-of-fact about Bonds' homer. The record is a personal achievement -- very nice, thank you -- but not what drives ballplayers. "Yeah, it takes the fun out of it," Alou said. "The main thing isn't the record. They want to win the game, and this has been an ugly road trip. They keep coming back and coming back, and we give it up at the end." The Giants pitchers have given up 88 runs on the trip, and the relentlessness of the opposition jumping out to leads and always playing from behind takes a horrific toll on athletes' psyches. "To me, as the manager of the San Francisco Giants, the effort that is being put on by the team ... that is what is disheartening," Alou said. "I sat in the pressbox last night [while suspended for the contest] and saw the same thing from the bench -- these guys really want to do something about winning the game." As for the run of bad luck -- or whatever -- from always playing catchup? "I never saw it before," said Alou, who has been in the game for half a century. "I've never seen so many four-, five-, three-run innings in my life. Never. And it has nothing to do with anything; it just happens in this game." Talk about repeats: This contest was 3 hours, 33 minutes long, identical to Friday's night's fall-behind, comeback, lose-at-the-end affair. But there was a consolation in the game, with Lowry -- in the midst of a three-game losing streak -- shaking off those first-frame blues to retire 10 straight batters for a clean final 3 2/3 innings. "He pitched well," said Alou. "He threw his changeup and breaking ball, kept the ball down. I think of next year, seeing him healthy and aggressive. I always worry when I see a guy not throwing the ball well." Lowry, 7-10 with a 4.84 ERA overall this season, is 0-3 with a 14.67 ERA in his last four starts, but will remember vividly how things changed for the better after that first frame. "I try to take something positive out of every start and tonight after settling down I was able to make an adjustment," he said. "It's a positive I'll try to carry into my next start. I was able to get the ball back on a downward plane and able to get ahead of guys." There wouldn't be much consolation for losing pitcher Jack Taschner (0-1), however, as the reliever allowed two eighth-inning runs. Still, from the Giants' offensive point of view, it was fun to watch, especially if you're watching Moises Alou, who had two doubles and a home run to reach 1,999 lifetime Major League hits. Oh, he came so desperately close for No. 2,000. In the ninth, the veteran ripped a liner to left field that seemed a sure safety, yet left fielder Corey Hart made a spectacular sliding catch. It was a painful game in other ways. San Francisco second baseman Ray Durham was pulled in the sixth after fouling a ball off his right knee, catcher Todd Greene left in the second inning with a bruised thigh -- he's been hit three times by a foul tip there this road trip -- and replacement backstop Eliezer Alfonzo was out of commission for several minutes after being hit in the groin by a pitch.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.