Short-handed Giants iced by Braves

The Giants were without Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence in Saturday night’s lineup and couldn’t get away with it, falling 3-1 to the lowly Braves. It’s just part of an August day’s work, said Bruce Bochy:

“Sure, you’re gonna miss those guys, unfortunately it happens once in a while.”

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Belt was scratched from the lineup just minutes before first pitch with a stiff neck, an injury he gets once a year and typically out of the way by Spring Training:

“I just woke up, turned over and it locked up.”

Pence missed his second game with a tight hamstring — he’s due back by Tuesday — and Posey was in dire need of a day off. It’s that time of year, said Belt. The players need to consider every ache and cramp:

“It’s getting to that time of year where it doesn’t take much for stuff to happen.”

Sure, injury precautions are crucial now. Pence and Jake Peavy took precautionary MRIs before Saturday’s game and Jarrett Parker was hanging around warmups just in case something unexpected popped up.

But these healing moments come with one hitch: busted momentum.

A heartier lineup went 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position Friday night and, depleted, went 0-for-8 Saturday. It was one of those losses again, and Bochy found himself repeating a familiar line:

“We just couldn’t get a big hit.”

But the Giant’s failures tonight can be mostly attributed to Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz. He was powering fastballs through the zone and drawing soft contact otherwise.

Brandon Crawford‘s solo home run in the second inning was all he would allow through 7-2/3 innings of five-hit ball.

That should have been the key to a Giants win: a keen eye for Foltynewicz’s stuff. Crawford was 3-for-7 with two home runs against him entering Saturday, he added another home run and a leadoff double that went for naught to up his ownage.

Denard Span continued his hot streak, going 2-for-4 on the night, but this team needed an extra boost.

That’s where Posey and Belt, especially, could have come into play. Belt holds a career 4-for-9 average with two home runs against Foltynewicz. Posey has two home runs of his own against him.

Or maybe Foltynewicz wasn’t going to let anyone by him this time around. He certainly wasn’t pitching like a guy with a 4.34 career ERA against the Giants — he’s now given up only two runs through two starts against the Giants this season.

Albert Suarez knew Friday night, after getting scratched from his start with Sacramento, that he’d be taking the mound in San Francisco in place of an injured Peavy.

Suarez, in his first start since July 3, showed little rust.

He kept the Braves (48-82) hitless through the first three innings, but fell victim to the heart of their lineup the second time around.

Adonis Garcia‘s leadoff single prompted a Freddie Freeman double and Matt Kemp waved the dagger, pummeling a three-run shot deep to center field to put the Braves up 3-1. The fastball to Kemp was one of few mistakes he made, he chuckled:

“(The fastball) was supposed to be outside, but it wasn’t.”

That was all Foltynewicz needed.

The Dodgers beat the Cubs earlier Saturday, pushing the Giants (70-59) to two games back in the NL West.


Jake Peavy was placed on the DL with a lower back strain, forcing the Giants to call Suarez up midday Saturday. Peavy’s injury comes on the heals of Matt Cain‘s first rehab appearance in Sacramento, where hi gave up six runs (four earned) in five innings. Bruce Bochy said Cain’s expected to start September 2 in Chicago.

Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at for full coverage of Giants baseball.