SAN FRANCISCO -- Sitting in the visiting clubhouse in Cincinnati last July, a frustrated Bruce Bochy dropped what would be his most famous quote of the season, saying he hoped his slumping team had hit "rock bottom" and would bounce back.
That group never did, but almost year later the Giants are far from the bottom. They remain on top of the division -- just barely -- thanks to two spectacular months. With the Reds again on the other side of the field, though, the Giants have looked nothing like a contending team this series.
The lineup stalled once again Friday, and Madison Bumgarner gave up five runs in a 6-2 loss that was San Francisco's 13th in 17 games. The Giants have the worst record in the majors since this current skid began June 9. They've lost every which way, and in what looked to be an epic pitchers duel at AT&T Park, the Giants once again were outclassed. Right-hander Johnny Cueto, the major league ERA leader, gave up just three hits while pitching into the ninth.
"We raised the guy's ERA tonight," Bochy said, smiling and taking some solace in the fourth loss in the first give games of the homestand.
That was more a testament to Cueto's stellar season (8-5, 1.88 ERA) than to the Giants, and Bochy knew it. A night after he said the Giants needed to get in gear offensively, they went down quietly one inning after the next. More than one hat was tipped in Cueto's direction.
"He's got that ERA for a reason," catcher Buster Posey said. "He was moving the ball back and forth with high velocity, sinking it, cutting it, with a good changeup. He just doesn't give you the same look more than once."
The Giants' best shot was to ride Bumgarner, and early on he looked capable of carrying the load. The big left-hander gave up two singles in the first inning but picked off both runners, becoming the first Giant to accomplish the feat since Bud Black in 1992. The two aces combined for 50 strikes and just 17 balls in the first three innings, but the wheels came off for Bumgarner in the fifth.
The Reds hit around, picking up five runs on six hits. Bochy thought Bumgarner "got in the same area with some pitches and got up (in the zone) a little bit." Posey felt the Reds were more aggressive the second time through the order and took advantage of a pitcher who was a touch off for an inning. The inning was full of soft hits, raising the frustration level for Bumgarner.
"For the most part, I felt we were making pitches and they were just getting hits," he said. "That's a frustrating time. You try to minimize the damage, and they keep getting hit after hit, whether they're hard-hit line drives, bloopers between outfielders or anything. It's frustrating."
Bumgarner said the inning just snowballed on him. When his day was over, his ERA at AT&T Park was up to 4.94, light years from his 1.32 mark on the road.
"That's why we love it and that's why we hate it sometimes," Bumgarner said of the sport he usually excels at. "It's frustrating. It's why it's so interesting, I guess."
Cueto recorded an out in the ninth before putting two runners on. Aroldis Chapman entered and closed out the Giants, throwing three 102 mph fastballs and six that cracked the 100 mph barrier.
The loss was the 10th in the last 12 home games for the Giants, who have been outscored 60 to 36 over that stretch. Cueto gave them little choice but to accept their fate Friday and hope for a better result Saturday.
"You just come out and play," Posey said. "Hopefully tomorrow is the day (it turns), because you've got to do it at some point."
Cincinnati (Alfredo Simon 10-3) at Giants (Matt Cain 1-6),
7:05 p.m., CSNBA