SAN FRANCISCO -- After struggling in each of his last three outings, Matt Cain talked about how he felt he was a couple of pitches away from an outstanding start. Saturday night, he didn't have any offerings to bemoan. Sergio Romo couldn't say the same in the Giants' 7-3 loss.
On his 33rd birthday, Brandon Phillips crashed the Giants' "All Brandon Weekend" party with a devastating two-run home run off Romo. The blast gave the Reds a 2-1 lead and was the sixth long ball Romo has surrendered this season, which tied a career high. The Giants countered to tie the game with their own ninth-inning rally, but a five-run 11th by the Reds dealt the Giants their third consecutive defeat and 14th in their last 18 games.
Facing Jean Machi with two runners on and two outs in a 2-2 game in the 11th, Zack Cozart hit a two-run, go-ahead double. Three more two-out runs later, AT&T Park was half-empty and the Giants were done. Entering Saturday, the Reds were 0-32 when trailing after eight innings.
After the game, Romo talked about needing to become less predictable and said he felt he was "one pitch away" from recording the save. He threw Phillips six pitches. Each was a slider.
Said Romo: "If you're going to get beat, get beat with your best pitch. ... I got beat tonight."
The problem is, that's become commonplace for the 31-year-old. Romo has blown three consecutive saves at AT&T Park and has allowed 15 runs in his last 15 innings. Manager Bruce Bochy said the closer role will be discussed Sunday, and a change will be made if necessary.
A change in results is necessary for the Giants; what three weeks ago was a 9 1/2-game lead on the Dodgers in the National League West has been whittled to just a one-game advantage.
"It's a long season; it's going to happen," Cain said of the team's calamitous three-week stretch. "You have to be resilient. I think [how we respond] is going to show what kind of team we have. We know the guys we have in here are able to do that."
Wins have been elusive for the Giants in the last three weeks. Saturday proved to be no different, just more gut-wrenching.
Still, at the midway point of their season, the Giants are on pace for 92 wins. That's a far cry from their 108-win pace on June 8, but it'd likely still be enough for a return to the postseason. Cain pitching like he did Saturday would be a step in October's direction.
Cain threw seven shutout innings and looked more like a three-time All-Star than the command-challenged liability he's been recently. He wasn't dominant -- the Reds tagged him for six hits in seven innings -- but he made the pitches necessary to get out of jams, a successful outcome that had eluded him in previous outings. The difference? He kept his offspeed pitches down and attacked both sides of the plate with his fastball.
After Romo's unsuccessful save attempt, Aroldis Chapman took the mound for the Reds for a fourth consecutive day, for just the second time in his career. Hunter Pence began the inning with a single. Pablo Sandoval drew a 10-pitch walk. Buster Posey then pulled a 101 mph fastball into left field for a double, which allowed Pence to score the tying run from second. Sandoval was held at third with no outs. He was stranded there as Hector Sanchez, Joaquin Arias and Adam Duvall went down in order.
"We're just not quite getting it done," Bochy said of his team's missed opportunity in the bottom of the ninth.
It's applicable to the last three weeks as a whole, too. They've fallen one pitch short here; they've been one swing away there. The losses are mounting. And the Dodgers are coming.
"You're going to have some really, really tough times in this game, which we are now, especially here at home," Bochy said. "Tonight ... that would've been a nice one and it ended up being a real tough one to take."
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.