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MIL@SF: Cain fans six, gives up two over seven frames

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's not a matter of getting them over, it's a matter of getting them in.

The Giants have had plenty of runners in scoring position recently. Driving them home, though? That's been an entirely different issue.

Despite a seven-inning gem from starter Matt Cain, San Francisco's offense sputtered again in a 3-1 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday night.

"It's kind of run rampant right now throughout the lineup," manager Bruce Bochy said of his team's struggles at the plate. "We're getting the right guys up there -- and they're not always going to do it, we know that -- but it's kind of hit us as a club as a whole. And it's been here for a while."

The Giants are scuffling, having lost 10 of their past 15. In that span, they've averaged just 2.2 runs per game, while their woeful performance with runners in scoring position continued Tuesday, going 1-for-9. For the series, they're just 2-for-22 with RISP.

"It's frustrating," Buster Posey said. "I think all of us take a lot of pride in being in those situations and coming through."

Take a look at the box score for San Francisco's 3-4-5 hitters Tuesday and there isn't much to see. The trio of Hunter Pence, Posey and Pablo Sandoval went a combined 1-for-11 with a hit by pitch. Bochy didn't mince words when giving his assessment of Sandoval, in particular, who is batting just .189 (7-for-37) in his past 10 games.

"He's out of sync. You can see it," Bochy said. "The biggest thing I see more than anything -- overstriding a little bit. It's created a little bit longer swing and he's had a tough time catching up. We're trying to get him on track to shorten up a bit to where he can get to the ball. Right now he's late with everything."

The Marco Scutaro experiment at leadoff the past two games also hasn't translated into results, as the second baseman went 0-for-4 Tuesday and is now hitless in nine at-bats as the No. 1 hitter. Bochy said he planned on giving Scutaro a day off Wednesday.

The underperforming offense came at the expense of another solid outing from Cain, who has reverted to his dominant form of late, posting a 1.67 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break. On Tuesday, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, giving up four hits and striking out six while walking none. Cain was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning despite throwing just 87 pitches.

"I felt like I was getting ahead of those guys," Cain said. "Buster and I got things going pretty quick and I was feeling pretty good."

Receiving little run support is nothing new to Cain, who has dealt with the issue throughout his career. So as he looks at the offense's tough times at the plate, he sounds optimistic that his teammates can turn it around.

"We're not worried about the offensive guys," Cain said. "They're going to do their thing and we just got to keep going out there and throwing the ball well."

Cain's counterpart, Brewers righty Wily Peralta, showed flashes of dominance throughout his start, striking out six of nine batters at one stretch. Peralta finished 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out six. The lone run he surrendered came in the seventh inning, when Brandon Belt roped a double to the right-field corner before he scored on a fielder's choice from pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias.

"I feel good. I think I needed an outing like that," Peralta said.

It wasn't just a poor offense that doomed the Giants on Tuesday night. Posey also had a crucial throwing error in the fourth inning, when he tried to nab Norichika Aoki leading off third base but threw the ball way wide of Sandoval and into left field.

"I just tried to be a little bit too quick with it," Posey said. "I think that was the biggest issue."

The error allowed Aoki to score without a throw, and it moved Milwaukee's lead to 2-0 after Carlos Gomez hit a solo shot in the second inning. The Brewers would tack on another run in the top of the ninth, when Jonathan Lucroy hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Aoki.

The Giants were literally just inches away from tying the game up at 2 in the bottom of the eighth. Brandon Crawford led off the inning and sent a pitch deep to right field, but it bounced off the top of the brick wall and back for a double. Crawford wound up being stranded at third base as Posey grounded out to shortstop and Sandoval popped out to end the inning.

Throughout his six-plus seasons at the helm of the Giants, Bochy has seen his team get hot and go on big winning streaks. But with 50 games left and his team 12 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West cellar, time is quickly running out on the offense.

"That's what's missing," Bochy said. "We're getting the pitching to get that kind of run, we're just not getting those timely hits."

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