EXTRAS: Six-game East Coast road trip remix, etc.

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EXTRAS: Six-game East Coast road trip remix, etc.

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Between two six-game East Coast road trips, the Giants were gifted a break for the All-Star Game and a home series with the Houston Astros. They did what they had to and went 4-0, clinching home field advantage in the World Series and drop kicking the Astros down to San Diego with their 13th consecutive loss away from home.

RECAP: Instant Replay -- Giants 3, Astros 2

Coupled with a pair of weekend losses for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants moved into first place in the N.L. West. But they'll need to remain focused for all 73 remaining games; it's a race that everyone in the clubhouse is expecting to go down to the wire.

"We have to show we can play on the East Coast," Bochy said. "We got slammed pretty good on the last one."

Slammed to the tune of a 1-5 record, yes they did.

"Those were two really hot teams," Affeldt said of the Pirates and Nationals, without consciously bringing the warm weather into the conversation.

Their upcoming trip pits them against equally hot, and traditionally more dangerous, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The Braves are riding a seven-game winning streak that has seen them outscore opponents 43-22. And they'll be well rested, on the heels of a day off.

RELATED: Bullpen bails out Cain, sets tone for road trip

The Phillies, while they are scuffling through their worst season in recent memory -- playing the N.L. East doormat -- just took two of three in Colorado and could get a boost from the return of Cy Young pitcher Roy Halladay on Tuesday.

"This is a big road trip coming up," Buster Posey said.

Against such foes, Bochy knows the team will need more than the three-run outputs with ten-plus runners left on base, as they have achieved in each of their last two wins against Houston.

"We're going to have to turn it up a notch with this offense, to get this done."

Hoping on Huff

After alluding to an imminent activation before Sunday's game, Bochy backtracked on Aubrey Huff's progress.

"I just felt he needs a few more games," Bochy said. "I want to make sure he's ready. When players come back, they need to be ready -- fully ready. There's not a break-in period.

"Aubrey agreed. A few more games playing first base would benefit him. And it should benefit us in the long run."

From the sound of it, it appears Bochy has every intention of bringing Huff back and playing him at first base.

While Belt seemed to make Huff -- and Brett Pill -- expendable during his torrential 11-game hitting streak from June 12-23, the young first baseman is just 8-for-his-last-46 (.173) since.

The plan is for Huff to report to Triple-A Fresno on Monday, after going 4-for-16 (.250) in five rehab games with Single-A San Jose. After a few more games playing in the field, when Huff is "fully ready," he'll be back.

Aaand, stay out

AT&T Park has not been kind to Houston Astros with Bay Area ties this year, and there are a number of them.

Marin county native Bud Norris faced the Giants in each of the Astros' two AT&T Park series. His first outing lasted just 3 13 innings when he was forced out of the game -- and onto the DL -- with a sprained knee. Sunday, Norris made it through six innings but was again tagged with the loss.

Castro Valley native and former Stanford Cardinal Jason Castro went 1-for-8 with and RBI in the first series, and missed this series with an injury.

Jed Lowrie, who also played collegiately at Stanford, went 0-for-10 with a run in the first series. He was 1-for-5 in this series before Gregor Blanco slid into his ankle at second base -- on a clean play -- and dropped Lowrie in writhing pain.

Castro and Lowrie were each placed on the disabled list Sunday.

First baseman Brett Wallace, who grew up in Sonoma, was sent down after he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Matt Cain's perfect game and hasn't made it back to the majors yet.

Giants lineup: Posey, Arroyo out against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey, Arroyo out against Braves

Mired in a big slump, rookie Christian Arroyo is getting a night off, while Nick Hundley is catching in place of Buster Posey Saturday.

Atlanta Braves:
1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Tyler Flowers (R) C
7. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
8. Danny Santana (S) 3B
9. Mike Foltynewicz (R) P

San Francisco Giants:
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
3. Joe Panik (L) 2B
4. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Aaron Hill (R) 3B
7. Nick Hundley (R) C
8. Mac Williamson (R) RF
9. Ty Blach (R) P

 

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.”