"Ever since I've been here, it seems like we've been doing that every year, so I'm kind of used to it," said Zach Duke, who pitched seven shutout innings Wednesday but again received little offensive support. "The thing is, you just have to focus on what your task is, what your job is and just control what you can do."
Just after Matt Capps (2-6) yielded a walk-off single to Randy Winn to end the seemingly less-important game, the closer sat in his locker, packing his bag for Pittsburgh and asked a teammate where Sanchez was headed. The good news never came.
The ever-even-keeled John Russell said, "It's been a hectic few days. We'll be fine. We play well at home." That's where the Bucs (43-58) will return -- though without their starting middle infield -- for a 10-game homestand at PNC Park, where they've won nine of their past 15 games.
Seeking his team-leading 10th win Wednesday, Duke allowed six hits over seven innings of work but was bested by Matt Cain, who allowed three hits over nine scoreless innings. He whiffed four.
"I had to be [good] to match up with Cain, to give us a chance," Duke said.
The lefty has received just nine total runs of support in his nine losses this season, and got none in his no-decision Wednesday after he was pinch-hit for in the eighth.
The Pirates offense was again absent. After managing just four hits in each of Monday and Tuesday's games, the lineup collected three against Cain and Brian Wilson (3-4), who tossed a scoreless 10th for the victory. Four Pirates entered the batter's box with a chance to drive in a run, and each went hitless.
All four of the team's losses against the Giants (55-46) this season were by two runs or fewer.
After Duke was lifted in favor of Jeff Salazar in a last-ditch effort to spur on a rally, reliever John Grabow tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth to quell the Giants' attack -- at least momentarily. Capps found trouble in the 10th when Eugenio Velez led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Juan Uribe's sacrifice bunt. Three batters later, Winn smacked a single down the first-base line to drive Velez home for the game-winning run.
"Both pitchers threw a great game," Russell said. "It came down to the first [team] to crack, and unfortunately we were the ones."
Asked if the absence of both Wilson and Sanchez would leave his club vulnerable to future defeats of the same likeness, Russell shook his head: "It shouldn't be an issue. You got to go play. [The players] have done a great job through everything that has happened to us this year, and there's no reason to believe that they're going to hang their heads now."