SAN FRANCISCO -- It seemed inconceivable the Giants could find a more depressing way to lose than they have in a number of their recent punchless setbacks.
But Wednesday night's 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers offered a new depth to defeat, their fourth in five games overall and 17th in 23 games at once-friendly AT&T Park.
Madison Bumgarner pitched brilliantly for seven innings, and the Giants finally scratched out a run for him in the seventh, only to have the whole thing melt down in the top of the eighth.
After allowing just two hits and no runs heading into the eighth, Bumgarner went out to protect his 1-0 lead and surrendered three straight hits, then committed a throwing error to third base on a sacrifice bunt try. The floodgates subsequently opened for a four-run Brewers breakthrough.
What's more, the Giants continued to fail miserably at the plate. Even though they hit some balls hard -- Buster Posey was robbed of a possible two-run double on a diving catch by Brewers left fielder Khris Davis that manager Bruce Bochy called "a game-changer" -- the final line said it all.
Three hits. One run. No home runs by a Giant at AT&T for 11 games and 101 consecutive innings now. And a parade of leadoff hitters who have gone 22 plate appearances without a hit or walk, and are just 6 for 74 since the All-Star break (.081).
Needless to say, Bochy's patience is running very thin. His postgame news conference lasted just three questions, yet he still managed to get his point across.
"We're playing like where we're at," Bochy said of his last-place team. "To get this kind of pitching and not get some wins, shame on us."
Asked if he thought his players have been putting too much pressure on themselves, Bochy shot back, "No, I don't think so. They shouldn't be. It's not like there's a lot of pressure, especially where we're at."
Bumgarner, too, sounded an alarm bell when he hinted that the Giants haven't always been on their game mentally as this slide has mushroomed. Asked if he thought players have "checked out" at times, he responded affirmatively.
"Sometimes it's like we come in here and sometimes we don't," the pitcher said.
Even though Bumgarner has had a strong season personally, he's baffled by what has happened to the team.
"For whatever reason, we're not the same team we were last year even though we have most of the same guys out there," he said. "It's just not going our way."
Bumgarner (11-7) entered Wednesday's start having allowed two runs or less in nine consecutive starts, and he looked like a lock for a 10th. With the aid of two double plays, he shut down the Brewers on two singles and three walks through the first seven innings.
The Giants had a chance for a big inning in the seventh, but even though they only managed to get one run, it seemed like it might be enough. But Davis opened the eighth with a single, and Yuniesky Betancourt doubled over the head of left fielder Roger Kieschnick.
Jeff Bianchi hit a grounder to short that scored Davis with the tying run, but when Brandon Crawford hesitated on his throw to first trying to hold the runner at second, Bianchi beat Crawford's throw.
Logan Schafer then dropped a bunt that bounced straight to Bumgarner, but the left-hander made a weak, errant throw to third and the go-ahead run scored. That was it for Bumgarner, and his relief, Santiago Casilla, couldn't stop the bleeding. Casilla gave up a one-out, two-run single up the middle to Norichika Aoki, and the damage was complete.
Barry Zito made his first relief appearance of the year in the ninth and surrendered two more runs, including a home run by Davis.
The evening began with Bochy offering his most radical revamped lineup yet, with Hunter Pence in the leadoff spot in place of Marco Scutaro, who got the day off. Brandon Belt hit third for the second time in his career and Jeff Francoeur batted seventh and played center field.
But the new alignment managed just one hit against Brewers starter Marco Estrada over the first five innings, even though Estrada was pitching his first game since June 3 after a long stint on the disabled list.
Milwaukee (Donovan Hand 0-3) at Giants (Tim Lincecum 5-11), 12:45 p.m., CSNBA