SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants may still lead the National League with 60 errors committed, but solidified infield play has boosted the overall defense as of late. Heading in Friday's game against the Reds, the Giants' defense had gone six games without committing an error and has just three in the last 15 games.

At the center of the improved defensive play as been Pablo Sandoval, who has returned from an injury to be a reliable defender at third base. Giants manager Bruce Bochy had questioned Sandoval's weight and conditioning while the 2011 All-Star was recovering from the injury, but has been pleased with Sandoval's infield play since he returned June 9.

"I think it's gotten better and better, and that's what I thought," Bochy said. "Defense is just like offense: It takes a little time, but it gets better."

Bochy said both the offense and defense has benefitted from a consistent lineup with Sandoval back at full health and Brandon Belt getting regular time at first base.

"To be honest, it's been real nice," Bochy said. "It's been a pleasure. It's made it easier on these guys. The game is a lot easier when you know what your role is and to be out there every day."

Giants add Penny to bullpen, put Loux on DL

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants purchased Brad Penny's contract from Triple-A Fresno before Friday's game against the Reds, placing Shane Loux on the disabled list with a strained neck.

Penny joins the Giants' bullpen after seven relief appearances for Fresno, giving up five earned runs in 8 1/3 innings pitched. He had only allowed one run in his last five innings, including a scoreless two innings Wednesday.

The two-time All Star and longtime starter will be adjusting to a role as a full-time reliever.

"It's definitely going to be different and it's going to be something I'm going to have to learn as I go along, but I'm looking forward to it," Penny said.

The Giants had wanted to stretch Penny out in the Minors before calling him up, and manager Bruce Bochy said he envisions Penny as mostly a "long-middle reliever" but could choose to use him in different situations.

"I'll let him get adjusted and see how comfortable he is doing this role," Bochy said. "I can use him anywhere. That's what I'll tell him. I won't have a set role."

Loux was placed on the disabled list after injuring his neck during pregame workouts Thursday. To accommodate Penny's addition to the 40-man roster, Eric Surkamp was transferred to the 60-day DL.

"[Loux]'s doing better, but at the same time it looks like he's going to be down two, three, four days, if not longer," Bochy said. "It's hard to say how long it's going to be."

After pitching for the Tigers last season, Penny signed a one-year, $3 million contract in February to play for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan. Penny was released from his contract May 8 and signed with the Giants a few days later.

Penny also spent time with the Giants during the 2009 season, going 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in six appearances.

"I had a lot of fun when I was here last time," Penny said. "I told my agent I'd really rather come here than anywhere."