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What we learned as Giants' bullpen starts slow, snaps streak

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants entered Wednesday with a nine-game winning streak, a stretch that included six runs in each game. They hit that magical half-dozen mark again, but on this night they needed to do a lot more damage.

The San Diego Padres jumped out to a big lead and held on for a 9-6 win despite four homers from the Giants. About five minutes before the game ended at Oracle Park, the Dodgers closed out their sixth straight win. They are back within 1 1/2 games in the NL West standings. 

The latest bullpen game was disastrous early, but the Giants hung around and kept chipping away through the middle innings. Kris Bryant's solo shot in the bottom of the sixth cut what had been a five-run deficit to two. That didn't last long. 

Jose Quintana got out of a jam in the sixth and was a strike away from stranding another runner in the seventh, but he grooved a 3-2 fastball and Jurickson Profar crushed it to left. The four-run lead didn't last long, either. 

Steven Duggar and Brandon Belt hit solo shots in the seventh, once again getting the Giants within a pair. They looked like they would complete the comeback in the eighth when Emilio Pagan issued two walks to open the frame, but Brandon Crawford popped up, Evan Longoria flied out, and Steven Duggar struck out on a high 3-2 fastball. 

In A Pinch

With a runner on and two outs in the second, Gabe Kapler sent Wilmer Flores to the on-deck circle, surely hoping he would get a chance to try and swing for the fences with two runners on base. The inning ended, and Flores gave way to young infielder Thairo Estrada in the third. He also was swinging for the fences. 

 

Estrada hit a screamer over the left field wall to cut the deficit to 5-2 and give the Giants their 15th pinch-hit homer, a franchise record. That ranks second all-time behind just the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals, who hit 17 pinch-hit homers. This one was the first of Estrada's career, and his seventh homer this season overall. 

Unusual Start

The Giants have had a lot of success with their bullpen games lately, in large part because of "starter" Dominic Leone. But their formula didn't work Wednesday. 

Leone was done after throwing 21 pitches to record just one out in the first, and Jarlin Garcia took over and loaded the bases. Adam Frazier's two-run double down the left field brought a pair of runs home. Crawford's play in the hole prevented further damage, but the Padres got three more runs in the second inning against Garcia and Zack Littell. 

Those three relievers have generally handled the first half of bullpen games, but they needed 65 combined pitches to get through the first two innings Wednesday. 

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Tied At The Top

On Monday night, Mike Yastrzemski tied Belt at 23 homers and then watched as Belt quickly hit No. 24. Two nights later, The Captain did it again. 

Kris Bryant's solo shot to center in the sixth was his seventh as a Giant and 25th on the season. This is his sixth full big league season and the fifth time he has hit at least 25 homers. Belt, on the other hand, is there for the first time. His solo shot an inning later pushed him to 25, seven more than his previous high. 

Bryant's blast was the 220th of the season for the Giants. This is just the fourth time in franchise history that they have hit at least 220 homers and -- after the Duggar and Belt homers -- they're 13 away from their single-season record set in 2001.

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