EXTRA BAGGS: A pearly result for Pagan, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: A pearly result for Pagan, etc.

DENVER What happens when Angel Pagan reaches base ninetimes in a two-game span?

He smiles.

I didnt know he had teeth for a little while, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy said.

After more than a month of frustrating at-bats, scowls atumpires and one painful moment of self-immolation with an inanimate object,Pagan is smiling again. He made an adjustment to help him from the left side ofthe plate. Its translating to better contact from the right side, too.

I felt like I opened my eyes, Pagan said. You can neverlose your confidence, plain and simple. You cannot lose your belief inyourself. You get here early and theres so much work you put in so you canhelp the team in any way. When you do, you feel good.

Right now, I feel great.

Bochy said Pagan could be a real shot in the arm if hekeeps producing, especially if he can stamp himself as the Giants leadoff man.

Entering the game, here is what the Giants had received fromthe top spot in the order:

Name StartsAverage OBP
Gregor Blanco 68 .240 .334
Angel Pagan 26 .259 .289
Nate Schierholtz 8 .207 .303
Justin Christian 6 .211 .286
Marco Scutaro 2 .250 .300

No, Pagan is not an ideal leadoff man. But with Hunter Pencehitting fifth and Pablo Sandoval soon to return as the No.6 hitter, there mightnot be a better fit for him. Hell have to outperform Gregor Blanco, a moreprototypical leadoff presence, to keep getting at-bats in center field.

And that means Pagan will have to keep making contact. InJuly, he struck out 19 times and drew just four walks in 86 plate appearances.In two games at Coors Field, he hasnt whiffed once.

He started at leadoff because the Rockies were throwingleft-handers in each of the first two games in the series. He hit his home run Saturdayoff Rockies lefty Rex Brothers, But he did plenty of damage from the left sideagainst the Rockies right-handed relievers, too.

Youve just got to keep believing, man, he said. You seewhat you can do to make it better. It can be just a hair of an adjustment, butsomehow you have to make it better and have better at-bats.

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Bochy was pleased that the Giants and Xavier Nady were ableto come to terms on a minor league contract.

Its well worth taking a look, Bochy said. I know him andI know hes got a big bat, with great power.

Nady, who broke in while Bochy was managing the San DiegoPadres, hasnt played since late June because of a wrist injury. Bochy saidaccording to what he knows, Nady is healthier now.

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The Giants continue to turn over stones looking forright-handed relief help. Id be shocked if they didnt make at least one ortwo waiver deals over the coming days and weeks.

Theyll get one guy back soon. Guillermo Mota can beginworking out at the Giants complex in Arizona 20 games before his 100-gamesuspension is up. Mota, who blamed his positive drug test on childrens coughsyrup, is eligible to return Aug. 28.

Saturday nights game was made for Mota. Instead, Brad Pennymissed over the plate and Clay Hensley walked the leadoff batter in the eighthdespite a five-run lead. No, it hasnt been pretty.

You know what? Im not concerned, Bochy said. Penny, Ithought he had good stuff. Hensley has been pitching a lot and Im sure hes alittle tired. I think well be all right, especially with that 13thpitcher.

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Brandon Belt watched with approval as the U.S. team rompedto victory in the 4x100 medley relay. He said he was quite the swimmer as a kidand holds an undefeated record at the city pool where he grew up in Texas.

How could I lose with these flippers? he said, pointing tohis size 15s.

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Instant Analysis: Giants bats silenced, losing streak now at four games

Instant Analysis: Giants bats silenced, losing streak now at four games

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The return to AT&T Park was a huge boost to Matt Cain, who has wild home-road splits this season, but it did predictable things to an already-limp Giants offense. 

The Giants entered the night as the lowest-scoring team in the National League and they got blanked 2-0 by Jaime Garcia and the Braves. Garcia out-dueled Cain and provided the only offense of the night, as well. The Giants have dropped five of six.

Here are five things to know from AT&T Park, where they keep having Star Wars Night but they’ve never once celebrated Super Troopers … 

--- Cain entered the seventh with a 0.94 ERA at home this season, but the opposing pitcher busted him. With one on and two outs, the Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, a career .145 hitter. He bounced a single into shallow left and it looked like Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw home hit the runner. That allowed Swanson to race home for a 2-0 lead. 

--- Cain’s final line: seven innings, one earned run, one walk, three strikeouts. Yep, that’s a Caining.

--- Justin Ruggiano is here for the opportunity he was given in the sixth. Ruggiano has always crushed lefties, and Bruce Bochy put him behind Buster Posey on Friday night. The Braves intentionally walked Posey to load the bases for Ruggiano, who grounded out to third. Even the platoon splits are failing the Giants. 

--- If you need a little perspective on Christian Arroyo’s struggles, look across the field. Swanson, the former No. 1 overall pick, is batting .198. The shortstop slashed .302/.361/.442 as a rookie but his numbers are way down across the board, and he’s nearly two years older than Arroyo. These things take time. Having said that, Arroyo’s hole is pretty deep. He’s hitless in his last 21 at-bats after an 0 for 3.

--- There were three no-pitch intentional walks. I hope you used the extra ninety seconds wisely.