PHILADELPHIA — Hunter Pence was in the locker room before Sunday’s series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was enjoying a cup of coffee while joking with reporters, his left leg wrapped in a lymphedema of Ace bandages, his hair a tortured frazzle.
“Hunter will be active today,” said Bruce Bochy of the three-time All-Star. “He got in early this morning, a little after one. He’ll be used off the bench, and will be starting tomorrow.”
The full-throttle Pence, sidelined since May 15th with a left hamstring strain, is the club’s inspirational leader, and the Giants were looking to feed off his energy for their 24th win of the season at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.
It was not to be, as the Giants fell, 9-7, to the worst team in baseball.
Right-handed starter Matt Moore, who remains winless in five games on the road this year, lasted just four innings in the loss, his earliest exit since a third-inning curtain against the Dodgers last month.
“With each at-bat it seemed like I was behind way too much,” said Moore after the game. “I wasn’t able to command the heater, which made my off-speed pitches a little less appetizing. From the get-go, the fastball command wasn’t there.”
Moore threw 88 pitches, allowing four runs on six hits, including a 2-run home run to shortstop Freddy Galvis in the bottom of the second that gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead.
“He was battling out there,” said Bochy, defending his starter, “but he just wasn’t on top of his game.”
The offense had a long afternoon against Phillies’ starter Jeremy Hellickson, whose behavior on the mound was so labored that an office tower was added to the Philly skyline during one of his endless wind-ups.
But the heart of the order showed punch and stamina, especially in the top half of the seventh, when shortstop Brandon Crawford stroked a 2-run double off reliever Joely Rodriguez to put the Giants up 7-6.
“They had some long innings out there,” said Bochy of his hitters, “and that can drain the guys, but they kept fighting and took the lead there. We had them on the ropes, but we just made some terrible pitches. The bullpen had a rough day.”
Reliever Derek Law was credited with the loss, and for good reason.
With the score tied at seven in the bottom of the eighth, the right-hander coughed up a solo shot to Maikel Franco on an 0-1 pitch. The switch-hitting Galvis then homered off Law for his second long-ball of the day, making Galvis the first Phillie to homer from both sides of the plate in one game since Jimmy Rollins did it in June of 2011.
“Bullpen has to be smarter with their ahead-of-the-count pitches,” said Bochy in frustration. “They made some mistakes today, and we paid for it.”
As for Pence, he appeared briefly in the eighth inning, but to little effect. A member of the Phillies for parts of two seasons and still a fan favorite here, perhaps he’ll make his presence felt in greater stead tomorrow when the Giants head to Milwaukee for a four-game set against the Brewers, who lead the NL Central.