SAN FRANCISCO — Even the hits the San Francisco Giants are getting right now are coming at all the wrong times.
Hunter Pence matched his career-high with five hits and drove in a run in San Francisco's frustrating 8-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.
The Giants had 15 hits while the Reds had just 13. But San Francisco was 4 for 16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 on base. Adding to the embarrassment, even the chalk that makes up the batter's box was off-center.
The Giants (46-55) have lost four of their last five and are 7 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
"If you look at the numbers, they're not all that bad except for the timely hitting," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's what wins ballgames for you."
Mike Leake (10-4) pitched six-plus innings of wildly effective ball for the Reds, allowing a career-high 12 hits but giving up just one run. He also snapped an 0-for-26 skid – his longest hitless streak – with the third three-hit game of his career.
"I don't know if that combination happens too often," Leake said.
The last pitcher to give up at 12 least hits and record three of his own was Houston's Mike Hampton at Colorado on July 28, 1999.
Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco each drove in two runs to power the Reds to another impressive win against the defending World Series champions. After allowing San Francisco to rally from an 0-2 deficit to win the NL division series last fall, Cincinnati finished 6-1 against the Giants this season – and most of the wins weren't even close.
The Reds outscored San Francisco 45-14 in seven games, including Homer Bailey's no-hitter on July 2. They also outscored the Giants 31-11 in four games this week at AT&T Park.
The 55 hits the last four games are the most by a team at San Francisco since the Dodgers had 60 in another four-game series from July 1-4, 1977, at Candlestick Park.
"They pretty much had their way with us," Bochy said.
Buster Posey was out of the starting lineup after playing first base in the opener and catching the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader. He grounded into a fielder's choice as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, when the Giants loaded the bases with no outs before reliever Sam LeCure shut them down.
Chad Gaudin (4-2) gave up six runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings in his worst – and shortest – start of the year for San Francisco. He also allowed a season-high five walks.
"I didn't command the fastball, I didn't get ahead of hitters and against a team like that you can't fall behind," Gaudin said.
In the last regular-season matchup of this one-sided series, the formula remained the same: early runs and patchwork pitching for a runaway Reds win.
Shin-Soo Choo hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Votto's flyout to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
In the third, Votto scored from first when Pence missed Phillips' two-out single to right field. The ball trickled off the glove of Gregor Blanco behind him. Bruce followed with an RBI double, and Mesoraco had an RBI single to put the Reds ahead 4-0.
Pence had five singles, including one in the third that put San Francisco on the board. But after Brandon Belt singled, Jeff Francoeur grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Reds manufactured two more runs in the fourth. Votto drove in a run when he grounded out with the bases loaded, and Phillips hit a sacrifice fly to extend Cincinnati's lead to 6-1.
The Giants also loaded the bases in the fourth – and wasted that scoring opportunity. Leake got Pablo Sandoval to pop out, ending San Francisco's rally.
After Votto tripled leading off the sixth, Phillips singled him home. Mesoraco's two-out single put the Reds up 8-1, sending a large chunk of the announced sellout crowd of 41,512 to the exits.
Sandoval's two-run double off Logan Ondrusek in the eighth accounted for the only other San Francisco runs.
Reds manager Dusty Baker, mindful of San Francisco's remarkable rallies last October, even had closer Aroldis Chapman warming up in the bullpen – just in case.
"You can't figure it out," Baker said. "We dominated them in the first two games of the series last year, then they came back and won. So it's just baseball. I've been around so long, nothing surprises me too much. I just like to win."
NOTES: Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong said "everything feels pretty good" after throwing two scoreless innings in his first rehab assignment Tuesday in the Arizona Rookie League. Vogelsong, sidelined since breaking bones in his right pinkie on May 20, will throw about 40-45 pitches for Class-A San Jose at Stockton on Friday. ... Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti missed the game after having surgery on his left elbow. He will be back with the team Friday. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner was the active pitching coach, and part-time coach Shawon Dunston was added to the staff. ... The Giants are off Thursday. They begin a three-game series at home against the Chicago Cubs on Friday.