SAN FRANCISCO - Two Giants runners occupied the corners, and David Buchanan glanced toward the Phillies dugout. The rookie righthander held up one finger - he wanted a final chance to escape Sunday in the seventh inning. He shook his head when Ryne Sandberg moved toward the stairs.
"My job is to go as deep as I can," Buchanan said after a 5-2 loss to the Giants. "I tried to keep us in the game. But I'm getting really tired of not finishing innings. I don't know what it is. I don't know if I'm pressing or what."
The Phillies insist these games are not yet tryouts; Buchanan is one exempt player. He replaced Roberto Hernandez in the rotation and has posted a 3.78 ERA in 19 innings since. If anything, he has looked like a pitcher who could fill the No. 5 spot in next season's rotation.
That is a small consolation because the Phillies have as many as three vacant spots (depending on Cliff Lee's health) after Cole Hamels. But Buchanan, unprotected in last winter's Rule 5 draft, has made himself relevant.
Buchanan allowed three runs (two earned) in 62/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one, which improved his ratio to 14-to-2 since assuming Hernandez's job.
"He kept his stuff right until the end," Sandberg said. "He didn't taper off. He mixed his pitches really well. He continues to improve. He did a nice job for sure."
San Francisco overwhelmed the Phillies with 11 hits, 10 of which were singles. (All nine hits allowed by Buchanan were singles.) The Giants had not won a series at AT&T Park in more than a month. The Phillies, a season-worst 16 games under .500, are on pace for 91 losses.
The Phillies conceded an unearned run in the second. Brandon Crawford's single to right with runners on first and second resulted in two runs with Crawford standing on third base. The error went to Marlon Byrd, whose throw to third base skipped past Cody Asche. Sandberg thought Asche could have smothered the ball.
Buchanan was not behind Asche to back up the play because he broke toward first base, thinking he might have to cover there. Then he dashed toward home plate in case of an errant throw there.
"By that time, there was no play at the plate," Buchanan said. "It all happened so fast. There was no way to get to third in that amount of time."
Tim Lincecum threw 76 pitches in the first three innings and fell behind 13 of the 18 hitters he faced. The Phillies scored just twice; they stranded seven runners on base in the first three innings. The former Cy Young Award winner nibbled at Phillies hitters. He resembled a shell of his former dominant presence.
His best mistake could have been the two-out bases-loaded walk to Asche in the third. That brought Buchanan to the plate, and the pitcher struck out. Asche never had a chance to put a ball in play. The 24-year-old third baseman singled in his three other at bats Sunday to continue his self-proclaimed "up and down" season.
Ben Revere could chase a batting title, which no Phillies player has won since Richie Ashburn in 1958. Revere collected three more hits Sunday to raise his batting average to .314. That ranks second in the National League behind Colorado's Justin Morneau, who entered play with a .323 mark.
"A couple guys have said some stuff about that," Revere said. "If I can, that would be a blessing."
Those individual accomplishments are all that remain.