Giants & A’s

Matt Kawahara, Bay Area baseball beat writer

Giants avoid winless homestand with 7-5 victory over Pirates

07/30/2014 7:00 PM

10/08/2014 12:09 PM

SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew Susac had come to bat in the first inning Wednesday with the bases loaded, still looking for his first major-league hit, and struck out swinging on a fastball from Pirates starter Charlie Morton. So when Susac came up again in the third -- again with the bases loaded -- what was he thinking?

"Get a good pitch to hit and don’t miss it like I did (the first at-bat)," Susac said.

This time Susac lined a 1-0 fastball from Morton into left field for an RBI single, the first hit and run batted in for the Roseville native and Jesuit High School graduate. It was one of 12 singles for the Giants on Wednesday, who did not record an extra-base hit but made off with seven runs and a 7-5 win to avoid a winless six-game homestand.

The seven runs were one more than the Giants had scored in their past six games total as they avoided setting an embarrassing first. Since moving to San Francisco in 1958, they have never gone winless on a homestand of six games or more. Thanks to their ability to string some hits together Wednesday, and 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief following Tim Lincecum’s shortest start since July 2012, they still haven’t.

"We put the ball in play today," manager Bruce Bochy said. "A lot of the balls weren’t hit hard, but as you’ve heard me say, good things can happen.

"Early it was a ground attack, grounders we were beating out. And then we went to the blooper, and it worked out today."

It may not have been how the Giants envisioned snapping their season-long losing streak, but it was effective. They got some help from the Pirates, who ran themselves out of a big inning in the sixth, walked in a run in the first and made an error that led to an unearned run in the eighth.

The bottom line, though, was that the Giants won for just the seventh time in 28 games at AT&T Park, finally sending one of their sellout crowds -- this one announced at 42,272 -- home happy.

"Huge game, no question about it," Bochy said. "To come in and play like this at home, it’s not a lot of fun for these guys. … I think we all can eat solid food here for a while."

* Tomorrow’s print story leads with Susac’s reaction to his first big-league hit, which drew a loud ovation and came in front of a big group of family, including his parents, girlfriend and uncle.

"I just wanted to get it off my chest," Susac said. "They said it doesn’t linger, but it did. I was telling someone, a couple more 0-fer’s and my family probably wouldn’t be cheering for me anymore."

The ball, fielded by Pirates left fielder Travis Snider, eventually found its way to hitting coach Hensley Meulens, who held it up toward Susac and clapped. It appeared someone in the Giants dugout tried to pull the ball-switch trick, tossing a different ball into the seats, but Susac said he didn’t notice.

"I was just standing on first making sure I didn’t do anything wrong," he said. "I wasn’t even looking at what they were doing. … Talk about an adrenaline rush."

Susac was making just his second career start since being called up Saturday. He caught six different pitchers in the win and drew some praise from Bochy after the game, with the manager saying Susac has "done a nice job behind the plate."

"He’s got the potential to be a real nice hitter," Bochy said. "He’ll get settled in and get some playing time until we get (Hector) Sanchez back. But I thought he did a good job last night and today, blocking balls and things. He’ll get more and more comfortable."

Susac said it "took me a couple innings to settle in today" behind the plate, but that the experience catching a bulk of the bullpen was valuable for down the road.

As for the souvenir ball from his third-inning single, which he expected to have in hand as soon as clubhouse manager Mike Murphy had it authenticated: "I think my dad earned it," Susac said. "He stuck around for a couple of 0-fer’s."

* It sounded as though the Giants were surprised as anybody at the bizarre walk-turned-double-play in the sixth unfolded. With runners on second and third and one out, Jean Machi walked Chris Stewart to load the bases. But after getting the ball back from Susac, Machi noticed Snider straying too far off second base, possibly thinking the bases had already been loaded before the walk.

Machi threw behind Snider to Brandon Crawford, who tagged Snider out in a short run-down. Meanwhile, Gaby Sanchez had started toward home plate from third base, and he was tagged out by Pablo Sandoval to end what had the makings of a big inning. At the time, the Pirates still led, 5-4.

"You don’t see that very often. We got a break there," Bochy said. "We’re in a tough spot there, bases loaded and one out, and to get a double play probably saved us."

Bochy said he thought Machi noticed Snider leaving second base by himself. Machi said he was alert to where the runners were on the bases, but credited Crawford with yelling a heads-up at him as well. Either way, it loomed as a pivotal play in the game.

Susac’s take: "I threw it back to (Machi) and put my head down, then all of a sudden I saw Crawford in a run-down and there I am getting ready for a pickle at home.

"I’ve never seen it before … but I guess that works. Got us out of a tough jam there."

* Bochy made one big lineup switch Wednesday, bumping Crawford up to the second spot and dropping Blanco down to seventh. Crawford reached base three times, starting the Giants’ three-run first with a single, and Blanco had three hits for the first time since June 18, driving in a pair of runs.

Blanco, who has often struggled hitting near the top of the order, said his relative success lower in the lineup may be because pitchers approach him differently there. "It feels like it -- I don’t see the same pitches," Blanco said. As for contributing to a win, he said: "It feels awesome. We’ve been facing tough pitching, and today was no exception."

* Lincecum allowed two home runs -- a solo shot by Josh Harrison in the third inning and a two-run homer by Jordy Mercer in the fourth -- and walked Stewart following Mercer’s homer to bring an end to his shortest start since July 8, 2012.

Lincecum’s command was clearly off, and he has now allowed 11 runs over his last two starts. But he said his problem Wednesday was a mechanical one isolated to this outing.

"I tried to make a difference and stay back on my back leg, and it kind of worked against me," Lincecum said. "Instead of driving through my front leg I was kind of peeling off, and I couldn’t right the wrong at that point. It was a frustrating thing."

Knowing the Giants are off on Thursday, Bochy said he was freed up to go to the bullpen early. Machi earned the win, but Juan Gutierrez also contributed 1 2/3 scoreless innings, Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless eighth and Santiago Casilla recorded his eighth save.

* The Giants hopped a flight after the win for New York, where they’ll open a four-game series Friday against the Mets. The pitching probables:

Friday: RHP Ryan Vogelsong (5-8, 3.94) vs. LHP Jonathon Niese (5-6, 3.23)

Saturday: RHP Jake Peavy (0-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (5-5, 2.79)

Sunday: LHP Madison Bumgarner (12-8, 3.41) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (10-8, 3.88)

Monday: RHP Tim Hudson (8-8, 2.71) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (4-4, 3.77)

About This Blog

Matt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at mkawahara@sacbee.com. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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