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SF Giants’ offense falls flat in Bruce Bochy Oracle Park return

SF Giants’ offense falls flat in Bruce Bochy Oracle Park return

SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy’s tribute video and accompanying standing ovation with a “Bochy” chant were the only sounds disrupting and otherwise quiet first five innings to open this series between the Giants and Texas Rangers.

Then two loud pops came in the sixth inning. Back-to-back home runs from Nathaniel Lowe and Mitch Garver off an otherwise steady Ross Stripling gave the Rangers a 2-1 win on Friday night at Oracle Park.

The Giants returned home from a 1-4 road trip with series losses to the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels needing desperately for their anemic offense to rise from the ashes against the first-place Rangers. But they remained quiet against Jon Gray, who plowed through the lineup.

Since Joc Pederson’s single in he second inning, Gray had retired 11 straight batters until Patrick Bailey’s two-out single in the fifth inning. He retired the next seven, too, to finish seven scoreless innings with two hits, seven strikeouts and no walks.

Opener Scott Alexander’s scoreless first inning set the tone for a near pristine Giants pitching performance. Stripling’s back-to-back hanging sliders to Lowe and Garver were the blemishes on a five-inning outing in which he allowed five hits, no walks and struck out three as the featured pitcher. Ryan Walker and Taylor Rogers pitched two scoreless innings.

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The Giants’ found a spark in the eighth inning against a wild-throwing Aroldis Chapman, who walked Patrick Bailey and let him advance to third base on a pair of wild pitches against pinch-hitter Mark Mathias. Mathais went on to strike out along with Luis Matos to follow to end the threat.

Off closer Will Smith, recently recalled Heliot Ramos — replacing injured AJ Pollock — got a leadoff hit and reached third on an error, eventually scoring on Thairo Estrada’s ground ball. But Smith, a former Giant and one of the game’s top closers, finished the job to preserve a Rangers win.