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Giant tumble continues with historic sweep

SAN FRANCISCO — The struggling San Francisco Giants continued their free fall Sunday afternoon, mustering just two hits in an abysmal 4-0 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds.

Photos by Ali Thanawalla/SFBay

A excellent performance from Giants starter Tim Hudson (L, 7-5, 2.59 ERA) was not enough to stop visiting Cincinnati from completing the sweep, marking the first time the Giants have ever been swept in a four-game series at AT&T Park.

Reds starter Homer Bailey (W, 8-4, 4.39 ERA) took a perfect game into the seventh inning in what looked like a sickening case of deja vu for San Francisco.

Giants fans will remember Bailey — who has struggled for most of 2014 — for his no-hitter against the Giants last July 2.

Bailey once again took advantage of an inept Giants line-up, notching his first complete game shutout since last season’s no hitter, striking out seven in the process.

It’s hard to say how much the Giants’ cold bats had to do with Bailey’s performance, but Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy gave a less than glowing analysis of the recent offensive production:

“If you look at the order we don’t have anybody except (Buster Posey) who is locked in and swinging the bat well. We have a day off. I’ll think about this and see where we’re at come Tuesday with this batting order.”

Bochy praised the performance of the entire Reds pitching staff during the series sweep, but was at a bit of a loss when trying to explain the last two weeks:

“I wish I had a good reason for why these things happen, but I don’t. Sure we’re banged up, but we got two great starts in this series and we couldn’t win a game and that’s frustrating.”

The loss extends an atrocious streak for the Giants,who have lost 15 of their last 19. The Giants are now tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West, after being 9-1/2 games ahead of their rivals less than three weeks ago. Bochy is as shocked as anybody:

“It’s really unbelievable. You look at what’s happened the last two weeks you might think we’re 15 games back. We have to look at the big picture — where we’re at — not what’s happened. We’re in a fight now.”

A brilliant performance by Bailey obscured an almost equally impressive outing from Hudson. The 38-year old righted the ship after surrendering 11 runs in his last 10-1/3 innings, giving up only five hits with no walks in eight innings.

The lone blemish came on a two-out, two-strike double by Billy Hamilton in the third inning that scored Skip Schumaker from second base.

Jeremy Affeldt — one of the favorites to fill in for now-deposed closer Sergio Romo — entered the game in the ninth inning and proceeded to throw a wild pitch, commit a balk and hit Jay Bruce in the head on a wayward curveball. RBIs from Bryan Pena, Brandon Phillips and in the ninth sealed the game for Cincinnati.

The other contender for the closer role — Santiago Casilla — didn’t exactly impress either, letting an easy ground ball roll under his glove shortly after spelling Affeldt.

The Giants will need to turn things around quickly if they hope to regain a secure hold of first place and stay in the National League playoff race. Unsurprisingly, Bochy is staying positive:

“We can’t let these two weeks define who we are, we have to keep remembering how good we’ve been. That could happen again. You’ve just got to keep believing and get that confidence back…I like what I’ve seen from our starters.”

The Giants receive a much-needed day off on Monday and return to action Tuesday at AT&T Park to start a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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