Giants dry spell continues with third loss to Nationals

What seemed impossible for the San Francisco Giants in late July is now the team’s stark reality. The Giants have lost a game, their fourth in a row and sixth in seven contests.

In the series finale against the Washington Nationals – who hold the first NL wild card spot – the Giants looked lifeless, registering a paltry three hits in a 4-1 defeat that completed a Washington sweep. The Giants (56-59) continue to fall behind the pace in the NL wild card race and now sit four games back of the Philadelphia Phillies for the second spot.

In seven games since the July 31 trade deadline, San Francisco has scored a total of 17 runs – an average of 2.4 runs per game – and lost all but one. During the dry spell, the Giants have closely resembled the team that struggled mightily earlier in the year, headlined by average pitching and an utter lack of run-scoring threats.

Shaun Anderson (3-4, 5.33 ERA) was the latest Giants starter to disappoint as the right-hander allowed four runs over three innings in which he walked three. He would leave the game in the third inning after a blister on his middle finger burst open in the second and the trainers advised him to cut his start short.

Manager Bruce Bochy said after the game that the blister could also affect Anderson’s next turn through the rotation and that he may need to miss a start.

The Giants would receive even more bad injury news in the fourth inning when Steven Duggar made a sprawling catch in right field with the bases loaded to save multiple runs. Duggar came up from the play holding his left shoulder – on which he previously had surgery – and Austin Slater would replace him in the leadoff spot in the top of the fifth.

The injury has been labeled a left shoulder sprain and could land Duggar on the injured list, a move that would further eat into the team’s outfield depth after news Wednesday that Alex Dickerson’s return to play from a right oblique strain will be delayed past the originally-scheduled ten days.

The three-inning effort was Anderson’s shortest of the season and continued the 24-year-old rookie’s struggles since the month of June. In seven starts since June 23, he has not posted a quality start and has a 7.05 ERA over 37 innings in that span.

“He has not been as sharp with his command,” Bochy said. “He’s got to get that good command that he had when he came in here.”

With one out in the third inning, Asdrubal Cabrera took Anderson deep on a misplaced fastball, increasing Washington’s lead to 4-0, after the starter allowed a single and a walk to open the inning. Still Anderson feels like he is trending in the right direction.

“Honestly today I felt great,” Anderson said. “A lot better than I’ve felt in recent outings. It’s unfortunate how things played out but we’ll take time to get this right.”

Even with Anderson’s struggles, an anemic Giants offense was the more prominent issue as the unit continues to profile as the worst in major league baseball at Oracle Park.

On the afternoon, the Giants tallied seven baserunners to the Nationals’ 12 and Brandon Crawford was the team’s only hitter to record multiple hits. In the limited opportunities they were afforded – with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth and runners on second and third in the eighth – San Francisco went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position tor drop their batting average in run-scoring situations to .176 (19-for-106) in the past 13 games.

“You go through those tough times when you can’t get a hit,” Bochy said. “We’re just missing that one hit. These things are hard to explain but you go through them and you have to deal with them.”

The only sign of life for San Francisco came too late in the game, when Brandon Crawford sent a knee-high four-seam fastball caroming off the brick wall in right-center field to drive in Kevin Pillar from first. The next two batters would quickly be retired to end the game.

“More than anything, we’ve got to get this offense going,” Bochy said.

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