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04/13/09 9:48 PM ET
Giants, Unit battered in loss to Dodgers
San Francisco not panicking after fourth straight defeat
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Tuesday's scheduled off-day was a primary topic of postgame conversation in the Giants' clubhouse Monday, which summarized their season-opening performance all too well. Something's wrong anytime a ballclub focuses more on resting than playing. The Giants dropped their fourth consecutive game Monday, an 11-1 thrashing administered by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Randy Johnson lost at Dodger Stadium for the first time in 12 career starts and the offense advanced only one runner past second base, leaving the Giants feeling like they needed a break. Before the Giants began their 24-hour furlough, manager Bruce Bochy called a brief meeting and somehow left them with positive thoughts to swirl around their craniums until they resume activity Wednesday. "Relax. Just go out and play our game," Bochy said, sharing the theme of his message. "... We'll be fine here. We'll come out of this. We have to get back to playing with passion and having fun. I think guys are pressing a little bit." Check out the infield. Shortstop Edgar Renteria, whose 14 years in the Major Leagues should leave him impervious to early-season stress, is batting .160. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who by contrast might be vulnerable to anxiety at age 22, is hitting .192. First baseman Travis Ishikawa is at .227, though he drove in San Francisco's lone run with a fourth-inning single. Second baseman Emmanuel Burriss' average sank to .100 after he struck out in both of his at-bats. Bochy urged the Giants to maintain perspective. "One thing I'll demand is nobody hangs his head," Bochy said. "We have to realize that you're in this thing for the long haul. We have a lot of games, a lot of at-bats. There's no need for anybody to be pressing right now." Center fielder Aaron Rowand called the off-day's timing fortunate for a team that has recorded a .211 batting average and an 8.16 ERA during its losing streak. "Relax, regroup and refresh your mind. Come back on out and get back after it," Rowand said, offering his version of Bochy's address. "I think the timing of Boch saying what he said is good. I think you're going to see all the guys lighten up a little bit. We're not all that far into the season yet. We still have a lot of games left. I don't think anybody's lost any kind of faith in what this group is capable of doing." Johnson's presence on the mound gave the Giants ample reason to feel confident. The 295-game winner entered the game 7-0 with a 2.04 ERA lifetime at Dodger Stadium. He proceeded to allow seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, altering those numbers significantly. Johnson initially looked stable as he struck out four batters in the first three innings, though Orlando Hudson's third-inning home run and a pair of warning-track fly balls seemed mildly ominous. With the score tied, 1-1, the Dodgers chased Johnson by scoring six fourth-inning runs. Johnson struck out Russell Martin to open the inning, but needed 10 pitches to do so. Bochy thought that this standoff drained some of Johnson's energy, but the left-hander denied that it affected him. Something was amiss, because the next batter, Andre Ethier, hit his first of two home runs on Johnson's first pitch. A walk, an infield single and a sacrifice bunt left runners at second and third, but Johnson needed just one out to escape the inning with a mere 2-1 deficit. Instead, Rafael Furcal, the shortstop the Giants tried to sign in free agency but couldn't, lined a two-run single. Hudson, Johnson's former Arizona Diamondbacks teammate who ultimately hit for the cycle, lashed an RBI double. Johnson was lifted after walking Manny Ramirez intentionally and James Loney unintentionally to load the bases. In came Merkin Valdez, who yielded Martin's two-run single. "I pitched behind on the count a little bit. That kind of hurt with a good-hitting team," said Johnson, whose ERA soared to 11.42. "They can sit on pitches. My location with those pitches when I was behind on the count wasn't great. I got hurt today." Johnson was hurt in his previous outing by Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo, who became the first pitcher to hit a home run off the future Hall of Famer during his 22-year career. With that in mind, Johnson said of his first Dodger Stadium loss, "My last two starts, a lot of things have happened that I've never done before."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.