SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The bats were nearly silent, and so was the San Francisco clubhouse.
Things are going so sour for the Giants these days, maybe they feel talk is cheap. The Houston Astros, the team with the worst record in baseball, beat San Francisco 3-1 Thursday night to leave the defending World Series champs three games back of first-place Arizona in the NL West.
``We've been talking about it for a while now,' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``We're trying different things, mixing things up. What else can we do different? These guys are going to have to go out there and swing the bats.'
The Astros are 4-10 in their last 14 games against NL West teams, including a 3-1 mark against the Giants during that span. The Diamondbacks took three of four from Houston, while both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies swept three-game series against the Astros.
Jordan Schafer homered and scored three times, Henry Sosa pitched six strong innings against his former club to earn his first career victory and the Astros ended a four-game losing streak.
J.D. Martinez doubled twice and had two RBIs for the Astros, who stole a season-high four bases and turned three double plays on defense.
``I didn't have much stuff-wise and my location wasn't all that great,' Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong said. ``It was evident I was struggling to make pitches and I didn't give Eli (Whiteside) much of a chance to throw guys out.'
Orlando Cabrera drove in San Francisco's only run with an RBI groundout in the third. The Giants have lost nine of their last 13 home games.
Sosa (1-2) pitched with runners on base every inning but limited the damage with a crisp fastball and slider that baffled the Giants most of the night.
The rookie right-hander, who began the season with the Giants before being shipped to Houston as part of the July 19 trade that sent infielder Jeff Keppinger to San Francisco, allowed only four singles and struck out three in his second straight start against his former team.
Sosa got just enough support from his teammates.
Vogelsong (10-4) gave up six hits over 7 1-3 innings but lost for the third time in four starts.
After beginning the season 8-1, Vogelsong is 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA over his last four starts. The Giants have scored only one run in the three losses.
``We got the leadoff hitter on enough times to find runs,' Bochy said. ``We just couldn't keep the line moving.'
It was just the latest setback for San Francisco's pitching staff, which has been beset by a rash of injuries lately.
The Giants, who have lost the opening game in their last 11 series, have even bigger issues with their offense. They put the leadoff hitter on base in five consecutive innings but hit into three double plays and had two runners caught stealing.
``It's not from lack of effort,' Vogelsong said. ``We're trying everything we can to get some runs across. Once again we hit some balls hard and they made plays on us. We just have to keep fighting.'
The Giants, held to two runs or fewer in four of their previous eight games, cut the gap to 2-1 on Cabrera's RBI groundout in the third. They got some help from Sosa, called for a balk after Whiteside singled and was sacrificed to second.
NOTES: San Francisco's last win in a series opener was July 18 against the Dodgers. ... Giants closer Brian Wilson played catch briefly before the game but Bochy is unsure if the All-Star closer will be ready to come off the disabled list when he's eligible next week. ``I wouldn't rule it out, but it's going to be tough for him to be ready to go when his time is up,' Bochy said. ... LHP Barry Zito (mid-foot sprain) may throw off the mound in Arizona as early as Friday. ... Whiteside was activated from the disabled list. Backup catcher Hector Sanchez was optioned Class-A San Jose to make room. ... The Astros called up LHP J.A. Happ from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start Friday. Happ (4-14) had a 1.50 ERA in three starts in the minors. ... The Astros optioned OF J.B. Shuck down to make room for Happ. ... LHP Madison Bumgarner (7-12), who has a 3.51 ERA over four starts in August, goes for the Giants.
The Associated Press News Service
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