PHOENIX - The Giants kept some pitchers off the mound in Triple-A on Friday night, fearful that Chris Stratton's rough start might put the bullpen in a bad place. It turned out to be the right decision.
Stratton was very nearly knocked out in a five-run, 40-pitch first inning and made it through just three in a 6-3 loss to the Diamondbacks. He allowed 10 hits and walked four, becoming just the second Giants starter to allow 14 baserunners while recording fewer than 10 outs.
Afterward, manager Bruce Bochy said there will be at least one roster move Saturday, and possibly two. It wouldn't be a surprise at all to see Stratton sent right back down after his brutal return to the rotation. The Giants have an off day Wednesday that can help them shorten the rotation temporarily, and then they can figure out what to do with the fifth spot.
Stratton had the opportunity after Johnny Cueto went down, but he fumbled it in the first inning. The first big mistake was walking .171 hitter Alex Avila. The second was throwing an 0-2 fastball right down the middle to Patrick Corbin. The opposing pitcher bounced a two-run single up the middle, giving the Diamondbacks a 5-1 lead.
"Can't let that guy (Avila) get away from you, especially with the pitcher up next," Stratton said. "Corbin was late on two fastballs and I literally threw one right down the middle."
Bochy said Stratton's stuff is playable. It's another issue on the mound.
"What he needs is confidence," Bochy said. "There's no reason why he doesn't have it because his stuff is fine."
Pierce Johnson appears a lock to return Saturday. Derek Law pitched in the Triple-A game, so he likely is not on the list, but Josh Osich and Steven Okert are still down there. The Giants also could finally take a look at Tyler Rogers because they have open 40-man spots.
--- Mark Melancon pitched in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Melancon has been watched closely since returning from a flexor strain, but he told Bochy recently that he was bouncing back better and felt up to the task. He gave up a leadoff single, but then got a double-play grounder and a soft roller to second.
--- Paul Goldschmidt joined Luis Gonzalez as the only Diamondbacks with 200 homers. He has 23 against the Giants, including his first and 200th. The first came almost exactly seven years ago, on Aug. 2, 2011.
--- A night after throwing two innings, Ty Blach saved the bullpen with 2 1/3 more. He got Stratton out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. Blach has a 1.50 ERA in his last eight outings.