SAN FRANCISCO -- One line in the box score told the story of the Giants' extended slump, and it didn't belong to a player in orange and black.
Hitting third for the A's, Yoenis Cespedes went 0 for 5, struck out four times and hit into a double play. But his A's topped the Giants rather easily, winning 6-1 at AT&T Park thanks to contributions from a slew of others. In a hushed Giants clubhouse, players sat in small groups, talking quietly. It wasn't hard to imagine some of them going back over the loss and thinking, "That used to be us."
Gone are the days when the Giants fielded a balanced attack, and there are no signs that it's returning. The Giants managed just three hits against Scott Kazmir on Thursday and got outscored 19-7 while dropping three of four to the A's this week.
"One through nine, they've got guys going," first baseman Brandon Belt said of the A's. "If someone goes down, someone else is there to pick him up. That's what we've done in the past, and I think that's what we can still do. We're just trying to find a way."
The search has been painful, leading to one dead end after another. The Giants hoped Belt would provide some fuel after returning from a broken thumb, but he's just 2 for 25 since sliding back into the lineup. Belt said his thumb is fine and that fatigue isn't an issue. Timing at the plate is.
"People are in midseason form, and the reality is that I'm not," said Belt, who missed eight weeks. "But what gives me confidence is just knowing I've been through struggles before and I know I'll come out of it. I know where I stand as a hitter. It's just a matter of getting that timing back."
Belt has at least shown flashes of his past form, hitting a game-winning homer Saturday. Others have been lost for weeks, and issues exist up and down the lineup.
With Angel Pagan (lower back inflammation) out until late July, the Giants have lost the 1-2 punch they had atop the lineup. Gregor Blanco (1 for his last 22) wasn't a solution at the top, and while Hunter Pence has been productive in the leadoff role, the move leaves the Giants without an experienced No. 2 hitter. Thursday, Brandon Crawford was the latest to try the role and went 0 for 4.
The biggest problems might be in the heart of the order. Michael Morse is hitting .268 with only seven extra-base hits since this swoon started June 9. Pablo Sandoval has a .307 average over that span, but only six of the hits have gone for extra bases, and he has just eight hits in his last 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The Giants feared they might have a weak bench, but they didn't expect it to get this bad. Backup catcher Hector Sanchez is hitting .207, once-trusted infielder Joaquin Arias is at .182 and Brandon Hicks, a surprise contributor early on, doesn't have a hit since June 11.
"It just looks like we're caught in between as an offensive group," manager Bruce Bochy. "We're a little late on the fastball and out front on off-speed pitches. Last night (a 5-2 win) was a good game for us and you like to think, 'OK, we'll build off that.' But their guy threw well."
Buster Posey put the Giants' 8-21 skid in stark terms: "We're just getting outplayed," he said.
The Giants haven't been outpitched much lately, but Tim Hudson was charged with six runs in 51/3 innings against his former team.
In a sign of the times for this team, Hudson might have provided the two offensive highlights of the day. In the third inning, he drew a 10-pitch walk. With two runners in scoring position and two outs in the fifth, Bochy let Hudson hit for himself. The pitcher cracked a deep fly ball to center, but the speedy Craig Gentry caught it on the warning track.
Bochy stuck with Hudson over a pinch-hitter because he felt the right-hander could go deep into the game and give the lineup a chance to erase what was a two-run deficit at the time. But Hudson gave up four straight extra-base hits in the sixth and didn't make it out of the inning.
"I felt all right today, but obviously the sixth inning got away from me a bit," he said. "There were a couple of bad pitches that they took advantage of."
That was the theme of the series. The A's got contributions from All-Stars, backups and even their third catcher. The Giants had nowhere to turn when looking for consistent production. They now have dropped 15 of their last 19 games at AT&T Park.
"This has been a little long," Bochy said of the slump. "There's no getting around that."
Arizona (Mike Bolsinger 1-5)
at Giants (Tim Lincecum 8-5), 7:15 p.m. NBC Bay Area