SAN FRANCISCO -– The Giants came within seven outs of getting no-hit by Homer Bailey yet again before Buster Posey broke up the bid.
But they still created some bad, bad history in a 4-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds Sunday afternoon.
The Giants were swept in a four-game series for the first time in their 15-year history at AT&T Park. The offense went from malaise to full recession mode as Bailey threw a three-hit shutout to hand the Giants their 12th loss in their last 14 home games.
And they were in position to lose sole possession of first place in the NL West for the first time since May 7.
Bailey faced the Giants four days short of the one-year anniversary of his no-hitter against them in Cincinnati. He had allowed just one walk when Posey singled with two outs in the seventh inning.
Tim Hudson took a 1-0 game into the ninth inning before the Giants’ reshuffled bullpen failed to handle a non-save situation and the Reds blew it open.
Giants starting pitchers have combined to allow two runs over the past two games, but neither Hudson nor Matt Cain has a victory to show for it.
Hudson, who had allowed 21 hits over his previous two outings, returned to form while holding the Reds to five hits and two runs (one that scored on Jeremy Affeldt’s watch) over eight-plus innings.
Hudson induced 14 ground-ball outs, struck out six and allowed the leadoff batter to reach just once in his first eight innings. Skip Schumaker was the exception in the third and the Reds managed to plate him following a sacrifice bunt and Billy Hamilton’s two-out double.
Hudson began the ninth trailing 1-0 and gave up a single to Todd Frazier, then received a standing ovation as Jeremy Affeldt replaced him.
It was the third time in his 16 starts as a Giant that Hudson pitched into the ninth.
The Giants shuffled bullpen roles prior to the game, as Bruce Bochy took Sergio Romo out of the closer role. Then Bochy’s top two committee members, Affeldt and Santiago Casilla, completely despoiled a non-save situation.
Affeldt retired just one of the five batters he faced, and that was on a sacrifice fly. He hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and committed a balk amid his hectic appearance. At least the hits themselves were soft, and two were off infielder’s gloves. One was entirely the fault of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who clutched as he looked home, then clutched as he looked to second base and then threw late to first base after fielding Schumaker’s grounder.
Casilla entered and committed a fielding error that loaded the bases, and needed an overturned call on a 3-6 double play tag to escape the inning.
At the plate
It’s been over 100 years since a pitcher no-hit the same team twice in his career. We nearly saw it for the second time in a week.
Just four days after Tim Lincecum no-hit the San Diego Padres for the second time in two seasons, Bailey nearly no-hit the Giants again. The Reds’ power pitcher entered with a 4.80 ERA but allowed just one baserunner through six innings, when Gregor Blanco drew a leadoff walk in the fourth.
Inexplicably and inexcusably, Blanco took off from second base with one out and Posey at the plate while Bailey stood with the ball on the mound. Bailey threw to third for a gift-wrapped out.
The Giants didn’t get another baserunner until there were two out in the seventh, when Posey stayed up the middle for a single to break up the no-hitter. Bailey finished seven outs away from what would have been the third no-hitter of his career; he would’ve been the first pitcher to throw one in three consecutive seasons since Nolan Ryan for the 1970s Angels.
Pablo Sandoval followed with a blooper that fell in between three reds in shallow left field, putting runners at the corners. But Michael Morse didn’t get the benefit of a checkswing appeal from first base umpire Pat Hoberg, and with an 0-2 count, the next pitch was taken down the middle to end the inning.
What happened to all those two-out RBI hits from Morse that flowed so freely in April and May?
Bailey needed 107 pitches (75 strikes) to throw his fourth career shutout.
Reds shortstop Zack Cozart didn’t drive in the go-ahead run for a fourth consecutive day, but he did dive up the middle to stop a ground ball and take a hit away from Tyler Colvin in the ninth.
The Giants announced 41,549 paid. No refunds.
The Giants take Monday off before beginning a three-game home series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. Right-hander Tim Lincecum (6-5, 4.42 ERA) takes the mound against Cardinals left-hander Marco Gonzalez (0-0, 9.00). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. It’ll be Ryan Vogelsong (5-4, 3.96) vs. right-hander Adam Wainwright (10-4, 2.01) on Wednesday and Madison Bumgarner (9-5, 2.90) vs. right-hander Carlos Martinez (1-3, 4.13) on Thursday.