Giants' Bullpen Melts Down at Worst Possible Time: ‘Lightning Hit Us Twice'

SAN FRANCISCO - Bruce Bochy stopped as he walked out of the dugout Tuesday morning after his session with the media. He thought back to the previous night's result. 

"Those are the ones that are really difficult," he said, before slowly making his way back to the clubhouse. 

It's even more difficult when it happens a second time.

A few hours after the Giants blew a late one-run lead and lost 3-1 to the Astros, they did it again. This time the final score was 2-1, the decisive blow coming on another homer, this time in the eighth instead of the ninth.

"Lightning hit us twice," Bochy said Tuesday afternoon.

It would seem hard for that to happen, but the Giants have made a habit of this over the years. First it was Matt Cain for so many starts, and in recent years it has been Madison Bumgarner. Seven shutout innings are not always rewarded by this lineup, and on back-to-back days, Bumgarner and Dereck Rodriguez got 21 outs without giving up a run and also ended up with a no-decision.

Tuesday's loss had a bit more buildup than Monday's, starting with a sequence in the bottom of the seventh. Bumgarner had thrown 100 pitches and Bochy went up for a handshake. Bumgarner's hands were at his hips, and he looked a bit surprised to be pulled, but his spot was coming up and Bochy had a dominant arm ready for the eighth. 

Asked if he wanted to stay in the game, Bumgarner paused. 

"I'm never going to tell you anything different whether it's the truth or not," he said. "The bullpen has been really good. Ray (Black), is that the first hit he's given up in a month?"

The homer was, in fact, the first hit Black had allowed since July 8. But first, the Giants had to do what they do so often. They wasted a golden opportunity to tack on. Alen Hanson led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple but Steven Duggar popped up. The Astros brought in side-arming Joe Smith, and Bochy thought back to a matchup in Phoenix, where Hunter Pence drove in a run against Brad Ziegler. This time, Pence struck out. 

"He's been getting some big RBI over the last three weeks," Bochy said of Pence. "(Smith) just got a big strikeout. (Pence) fought pretty hard, he fouled a couple pitches off. He just couldn't put the ball in play."

Andrew McCutchen didn't either, striking out to end the inning. Black was called on with a hitless streak of 10 1/3 innings going. Marwin Gonzalez greeted him with a double. Two batters later, Tyler White hit a high two-run shot into the left field seats. The Giants had done it again.

Facing an Astros team without their three best hitters, the Giants got 14 shutout innings from their starters. But they managed just two runs off Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel, and the bullpen, so good for two straight months, melted down at the worst possible time. 

"I felt like we had good changes to win both those games, really good chances," Bumgarner said. "We let them slip away."

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