What we learned as Harrison struggles in Giants' heated loss to Phillies

What we learned as Harrison struggles in Giants' heated loss to Phillies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO -- Four consecutive series victories is impressive. Ten wins in 12 games turned heads. Sweeping the best team in baseball would have sent a message.

The Giants passed their first of two monumental tests on this homestand, winning a series against the vaunted Philadelphia Phillies, but closed it out with a whimper, losing 6-1 at Oracle Park.

San Francisco sent rookie left-handed pitcher Kyle Harrison (L, 5 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, BB, 5 K) to the mound against Phillies lefty Cristopher Sánchez (W, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 7 K) in Wednesday's series finale.

After a 1-0 walk-off win in extra innings on Wednesday night, San Francisco's offense continued to struggle, while the pitching staff, well ... only could subdue Philadelphia's ferocious offense for so long before the dam eventually burst.

Here are three observations from the Giants' loss that drops them to 29-28.

Bend don't break

Prior to Monday's game, San Francisco was 9-2 in games Harrison started this season, having won eight of his last nine outings.

Harrison has been great at keeping the Giants in just about every game he starts this season, even if he's not his sharpest. He did so again on Thursday.

Phillies hitters knocked Harrison around a little bit, scoring two runs on eight hits through the first four innings, but the rookie worked his way in and out of multiple jams ... and bench-clearing kerfuffles.

Two consecutive pitches up and in to Bryce Harper in the top of the fourth ticked off the Phillies slugger enough to where both benches cleared. However, just like a Southern California frat party gone wrong, it mostly was just a bunch of dudes named Kyle, Bryce and Curt yelling at each other.

Harrison gave up a lot of loud contact, including a two-run home run to Nick Castellanos in the top of the fifth inning that extended the Phillies lead to 4-0.

Again, it was not Harrison's best day, but he gave the Giants five innings of work and a four-run deficit to overcome. Which, as recent history shows, is far from insurmountable for this team.

A designated problem?

The Giants desperately needed to add thump to the middle of their lineup this offseason, so they went out and signed designated hitter Jorge Soler to a three-year, $42 million contract.

Outside of a few towering home runs, it has been a pretty disappointing start to the season for Soler, who was batting just .206/.293/.363 with six home runs, 15 RBI and 41 strikeouts in 160 at-bats prior to Thursday's game.

Soler struggled before landing on the injured list with a right shoulder strain on May 8, but started to find his groove at the plate immediately after he was activated on May 17.

However, the veteran slugger has fallen on hard times once again. Soler went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Thursday's game and is 5-for-36 with 11 strikeouts in his last nine games.

Squandering opportunities

The Giants so desperately want to give rookie shortstop Marco Luciano the runway he needs to develop into an everyday big-league player.

However, there just always seems to be someone in his way. Mostly himself.

The 22-year-old was in line to be San Francisco's Opening Day shortstop this offseason before veteran Nick Ahmed signed a minor-league deal and played well enough in spring training to steal the job from the struggling infielder.

Now up with the big-league squad with Ahmed on the injured list, Luciano has hit the ball well but struggled defensively. It doesn't help that his competition, infielder Brett Wisely, is tearing the cover off the ball while playing competent defense. That's all the Giants need right now. Luciano hasn't delivered.

After a few defensive miscues on the Giants' latest road trip, Luciano botched another play on Thursday. With two outs in the top of the third, Luciano fielded a routine groundball but fired the throw over to first too casually, allowing Bryson Stott to reach on an infield single that should have been the third out of the inning. Fortunately for the Giants, it didn't end up costing them.

Luciano then was removed from the game and pinch-hit for by Wisely in the bottom half of the inning, but the Giants said it was due to a tight right hamstring.

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