By Gideon Rubin
SAN FRANCISCO — The way the San Francisco Giants are going these days, even a solid outing from their four-time All-Star and staff ace wasn’t much help.
Jay Bruce homered in his career-high fifth straight game, connecting off Madison Bumgarner and leading Dan Straily and the Cincinnati Reds over the slumping Giants 2-1 on Wednesday.
The NL West leaders got just four hits and lost for the ninth time in 11 games since the All-Star break. The last-place Reds are 8-4 over that stretch.
“This is the way the game goes sometimes,” Bumgarner said. “Especially right now with this tough stretch we’ve been in, things have gotten magnified. It’s unfortunate but we just have to keep coming out and battle them.”
Bruce connected for his 25th homer of the season. His sixth home run during his five-game streak broke a 1-all tie in the seventh inning.
“He’s an ace in every sense of the word. When he gives you something to hit, you’ve got to do something with it, and I was able to do that today,” Bruce said. “He really made one mistake all day and I was able to hit a home run. You really have to be aggressive with him. He’s a strike-thrower, he’s going to be around the plate and he’s going to make you put the ball in play. I was able to put a good swing on the ball and not miss it.”
Bumgarner (10-6) allowed one earned run and five hits in eight innings, striking out nine.
“It’s disappointing when you have Bum throw the ball the way he did today,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He gave up five hits and couldn’t get a win. We just couldn’t figure out Straily. We couldn’t generate much offensively and it’s disappointing when you have your starter throw like that.”
“We just couldn’t get it going. It’s a tough one,” he said.
The Giants have lost six of Bumgarner’s last eight starts. He hasn’t had much run support of late, with the Giants scoring 10 runs in his last five games.
“We’re trying to score as many runs for him as we can,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. It stinks and we have to find a way to get back on track.”
Straily (6-6) gave up three hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out five in his longest outing of the season. Straily improved to 2-0 in his career against Bumgarner.
“Definitely, you take pride in battling against the best in baseball,” Straily said.” It’s no different than any other game, but when it happens on a day like today it makes it a little more special.”
Tony Cingrani pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save.
Conor Gillaspie hit a solo homer for the Giants in the second.
San Francisco left fielder Angel Pagan dropped a flyball in the fifth, setting up Tucker Barnhart’s tying sacrifice fly.
“The ball was hit hard, a tough play,” Bochy said. “I don’t know if he lost it in the sun, He almost made a great catch, too.”
Pagan singled leading off the ninth but was forced out at second when shortstop Zack Cozart robbed Mac Williamson with a nice grab on a ball hit up the middle.
“If Williamson’s ball gets in, it’s a different game,” Bochy said. “We would have had first and third there, but their shortstop made a great play on the ball.”
Joey Votto had two of the Reds’ six hits, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He’s batting .500 (20 for 40) over that stretch.
Brandon Belt was 0 for 2 with a walk, snapping his 11-game hitting streak against the Reds. He went into the game as a career .398 hitter vs. Cincinnati, including a .522 mark since the beginning of last season.
The Reds set an AT&T Park record with eight home runs in a three-game series (the Marlins hit eight in a four-game series in July 2010).
Giants: INF Ramiro Pena, who left Tuesday night’s game early with a groin injury after taking a bad hop, was a late scratch from Wednesday’s lineup.
Reds: Off Thursday, then LHP Brandon Finnegan (5-8, 4.93 ERA) starts at San Diego. He has an 11.05 ERA over his last four outings.
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (13-2, 2.53) will pitch Thursday in the opener of a four-game series against NL East-leading Washington. He is 7-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 11 career starts against the Nationals with a 16-inning scoreless streak dating to 2014.
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