Defense played a decisive role in the Giants' 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park on Wednesday.
Brewers outfielders robbed Buster Posey twice with runners on base and an eighth-inning defensive meltdown buried the Giants as they lost for the 12th time in 17 games.
“Our execution killed us in the eighth,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Giants opened the door to a four-run Brewers eighth when pitcher Madison Bumgarner and third baseman Pablo Sandoval misplayed a bunt with the score tied 1-1. With runners on first and second, Logan Schafer laid down a sacrifice bunt that Bumgarner fielded, but Sandoval took his first step toward home instead of covering third base. Bumgarner rushed his throw and, when it arrived, Sandoval wasn't fully ready to receive it. The ball deflected off his glove and rolled toward the bullpen.
Yuniesky Betancourt scored on the play and Bumgarner received an error.
“The bunt had dropped back to me and we had a chance to get him at third. I come up to throw and the guy's not on the base,” Bumgarner said.
The Brewers scored two more runs in the inning when Norichika Aoki singled in Jeff Bianchi and Schafer.
Prior to Bumgarner's error, shortstop Brandon Crawford spoiled a chance to get the first out of the inning with runners at second and third when he hesitated on his throw to first, allowing Bianchi to leg out an infield single.
“That really hurt,” Bochy said. “Not getting the out on the bunt. We're playing like where we're at right now.”
The Brewers added two runs in the ninth when Khris Davis homered and Martin Maldonado delivered an RBI single off Barry Zito, who made his first relief appearance of the season.
Bumgarner (11-7) tossed seven shutout innings before things fell apart in the eighth. The 24-year-old surrendered three earned runs on five hits.
“He threw great,” Bochy said. “He's thrown great all year.”
Despite a new lineup that featured Hunter Pence in the leadoff position and Brandon Belt in the No. 3 hole, the Giants continued to struggle at the plate. They managed to produce only five runners with Brewers pitchers retiring 17 straight batters at one point.
The Giants scored their only run in the seventh when Crawford scored on a Posey sacrifice fly.
Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez robbed Posey with an acrobatic catch on the warning track and Davis stole a hit from Posey by making a fully extended diving catch on a hard-hit line drive.
“Had a lot of games like this,” Bumgarner said. “For whatever reason, we just don't look like the same team we were last year, even though most of the same guys are out there. It's just not going our way.”