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SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants played uninspired ball from start to finish in a 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals on Monday night.
They neither pitched nor hit well. They allowed one run on a balk, another one on a fly ball that center fielder Kevin Pillar lost in the “twilight” and a final run on a poorly defended double steal.
“It was one of those nights,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
With their seventh loss in 11 games, the Giants (56-57) are now 3 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot, tied for sixth with Arizona and trailing Washington, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Milwaukee and the New York Mets.
They are below .500 for the first time since July 20.
Here are the takeaways:
A clunker opens a huge week: Bochy talked before the game about how big this nine-game homestand would be, and the Giants hardly got off on the right foot.
But starter Jeff Samardzija (8-9) said even with seven games against two teams the Giants are chasing, this week won’t write the final chapter on the season.
“With it being those two teams and where they’re at, it puts a little bit more importance on it,” he said of this stretch against the Nationals and Phillies. “But regardless of what happens, there’s still a lot of baseball to be played. No matter how it turns out, it really doesn’t matter.
“You still need to keep playing for another month and a half. There’s still work to be done after they leave.”
A rough night on the mound: Giants pitchers allowed just six hits but walked eight batters and issued a run-scoring balk.
Samardzija and reliever Sam Coonrod were particularly out of rhythm. The two labored through five innings, totaling 137 pitches that included going to a full count nine times.
Samardzija was 4-1 with a 2.09 earned run average in July, but he continues to struggle at home. Gone after throwing 98 pitches in four innings, he’s won just one of his past seven starts at Oracle, dating to May 22.
“Outside of just battling and fighting, there wasn’t too much positive out there for me,” Samardzija said. “They made me work, slider wasn’t very good today. They fouled off a lot of pitches so the pitch count got a little high. That was the story.”
Coonrod, who had allowed just one hit in his previous seven innings over seven outings, threw 39 pitches in his one inning and made things worse by balking after loading the bases with three walks.
“Some guys just had trouble locating their pitches. Some long innings by everybody,” Bochy said. “Had to use a lot of guys in the bullpen. We’ll talk about what we’re going to do tomorrow.”
Rookie Conner Menez will make his second career start on Tuesday, and Bochy would love to get some innings from him.
It remains to be seen how much the Giants will miss traded relief pitchers Sam Dyson (49 appearances), Mark Melancon (43) and Derek Holland (24), who combined to come out of the bullpen 116 times.
Giants bats have cooled: During their 17-3 tear in July, the Giants won close games but also scored lots of runs. They reached double figures six times and won the only three games in which they were limited to no more than two runs.
But the Giants have been held to two runs or fewer seven times in their past 11 outings..
Nationals starter Erick Fredde, who allowed nine runs in 3 2/3 innings in his most recent outing vs. Atlanta, only once let the Giants get more than one hit in an inning.
Bochy said the Giants hit in a bit of hard luck, but added, “Their guy did a nice job on us. You get in these things, now you’ve got to fight your way out of it.”