SAN DIEGO The Giants long ago lost any hope of repeating as World Series champions, but on a quiet afternoon at Petco Park, they did get the chance to experience a bit of October magic.
Pablo Sandoval hit three of the Giants' six homers against the San Diego Padres, matching his total from Game 1 of the World Series to lead the way in a 13-5 victory.
"When he hit that third one, I said, 'Well, that brings back a good memory,' " manager Bruce Bochy said.
Players up and down the dugout had the same thought on the rare joyous day for a group that is tied for last place in the National League West.
The Giants had dropped the first two games of this series and fell behind early as it became clear Tim Lincecum didn't have his best stuff, but the unlikely homer barrage started in the third inning.
The Giants entered the game tied for last in the majors with 80 homers, just 18 of which had come in the second half. Brandon Belt had five of them, but it was the other Brandon who lit the fireworks Wednesday.
Brandon Crawford broke out of a 4-for-45 slump against left-handed pitchers with a solo blast off Eric Stults.
In the dugout, Crawford found Sandoval. Back in April, when Crawford hit five homers, he made sure Sandoval knew he led the left side of the infield in home runs.
"He told me to talk to him in September," Crawford said.
Crawford's third-inning homer was his ninth of the season, putting him one behind Sandoval at the time, and the shortstop again took the opportunity to needle the third baseman. Sandoval then hit a two-run homer in the fifth, a solo homer in the eighth and a three-run homer in the ninth.
Given the results, why did it take so long for Crawford to poke the Panda's cage?
"I didn't know it was that easy," Crawford said, laughing.
Sandoval's power surge was the result of more than just a bit of friendly smack talk. Earlier in the day, he met with hitting coach Hensley Meulens and watched clips from last September and October, when Sandoval was one of the best hitters in baseball. After a strong batting practice session, Sandoval found Meulens.
"I told him to just sit back and enjoy the party," Sandoval said.
He wasn't the only one to put on a show. The Giants had 17 hits and hit six homers for the first time since Sept. 18, 2011. That game came at Denver's Coors Field, but at spacious Petco Park, the Giants looked as if they were playing with aluminum bats.
Hunter Pence hit a two-run drive in the fourth and now is just two homers shy of becoming the first Giant with 20 homers and 20 stolen bases since Barry Bonds in 1998. Hector Sanchez hit a two-run shot later in the inning to give Lincecum a 5-2 lead, but he had trouble holding it.
In his first start at Petco Park since throwing a no-hitter July 13, Lincecum gave up a single on his first pitch of the day and later served up two homers. He was charged with five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings but came away with his ninth win thanks to the offensive explosion.
In a lighthearted clubhouse, Lincecum wore a stern look.
"I'm frustrated right now," he said. "I didn't take advantage of that lead the way I wanted to. I didn't attack the zone the way I wanted to. When you have the answers to a test and don't put them down, it's frustrating."