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Giants must dig deep to end worst stretch of Kapler-Zaidi era

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Leone

PHOENIX -- Even with a loss in the first game of this series at Chase Field, the Giants were 25-5 over their last 30 games against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That's tied for the best 30-game span they've ever had against an opponent, and it's a huge reason why they shocked the baseball world last year and won 107 games and the National League West. 

But every year is different, and the Diamondbacks are showing signs of life. They are getting younger and more athletic, and they are playing right now with the type of fight that one might expect from a team that surely remembers how bitter it was to be on the other end of all of those butt-kickings last season. 

That showed in the eighth inning, when a 2-1 Giants lead evaporated in a mess of missed locations. The Diamondbacks scored five runs off Dominic Leone and Camilo Doval, storming back for a 6-2 win that dropped the Giants to 3-12 over their last 15 games. 

The rally started when Josh Rojas put down a bunt single on a 95 mph two-strike pitch. Leone spent the next few minutes with one eye on Rojas, and when he did come to the plate, he had no command. Leone left the bases loaded and the score tied, and Doval gave up a sac fly and three-run homer.

"They're scrappy," Leone said of the bunt. "And they don't go away."

That's been part of the story over the last couple of weeks, the worst of the Farhan Zaidi/Gabe Kapler Era. The Giants have played poor baseball and done so against teams that are unlikely to make the postseason, teams that are all too happy to strike back against one that beat everyone last year. 

 

"Nobody is going to lay down because we won 107 games," Leone said. "We've got to find it within ourselves to get back on the horse and keep battling. This is baseball, it's not going to be as easy as it was (last year) every year. We've got to keep fighting, keep grinding, keep showing up at the park and finding ways to get better."

Leone joined a chorus of Giants who have said the same thing in recent days. Kapler found a silver lining in the pregame work the Giants did Tuesday, which he said was a step in the right direction, but once the game started they had a runner doubled off first right away and then scored just one run after loading the bases with no outs in the fourth. 

That left no margin for error for the bullpen, but despite a couple of scares, the Giants got a lead to Leone and Doval, who might be their two best relievers right now. Leone had a 1.84 ERA in 88 previous appearances the last two seasons, but he didn't have his normal command, and the bunt single was the first of four baserunners, including two walks. A wild pitch brought the tying run home. 

Kapler turned to Doval with one out, hoping he could get a couple of strikeouts. But a long sac fly gave the Diamondbacks the lead and Daulton Varsho, another energetic young player, turned on a 102 mph fastball to put the game out of reach. 

"That one's really on me," Leone said. "I didn't do my job tonight. I kind of let the guys down."

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Leone had the biggest hand Tuesday, but this two-week stretch of awful baseball is entirely a team effort. It has dropped the Giants to one game over .500 and all but ended their hopes of a repeat NL West title. They're 10 1/2 games back now as they approach the halfway point of their season, but they have much bigger things to worry about. They're trying to keep the season from spiraling even further. 

"It's coming to a head," said Alex Wood, who pitched five solid innings. "It has to stop now. Hopefully tomorrow we can sneak a win and get out of here without getting swept and go play some good baseball against the Padres. But, I mean, it's coming to a head. If this is who we're going to be -- we're going to find out in the next four or five days if this is who we're okay with being or if we're not."

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