Photo credit: @McCoveyChron
By Jeremy Harness
SAN FRANCISCO — After three straight days of famine at the plate in front of their faithful home fans, the Giants on Thursday returned to the feast that had been their calling card during their major resurgence following the All-Star break.
The bats were shut down by the Washington Nationals, but they bounced back in a big way against a pitcher who had entered the game on a real hot streak. Starter Aaron Nola (10-3) had entered the game having only given up two runs over his last three road starts, but the Giants capitalized on a third-inning rally to down the Phillies, 5-0, at Oracle Park.
Equally remarkable was Giants starter Madison Bumgarner (7-7), who blanked the Phillies’ bats with seven shutout innings and gave up only one hit in the process while striking out three, which would qualify as his best outing of the season.
His contributions were not limited to what he did on the mound, either. He also got a key hit in the third inning to help ignite the rally that would push the Giants ahead as well as drawing a pair of walks.
“He did it all tonight,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I felt good about him going tonight, because he’s so good at figuring things out when it doesn’t go well. He put in a lot of work in between starts, to get where he needs to be.”
Upon taking over for Bumgarner, the bullpen kept Philly off the scoreboard, as Trevor Gott and closer Will Smith, who picked up his 28th save of the season on Thursday with a perfect ninth, combined to surrender only a walk.
After two quiet innings, the Giants broke through in the third off Nola. Brandon Crawford and Bumgarner started the inning with back-to-back hits before Brandon Belt drove Crawford in with a single to break the scoreless tie.
Mike Yastrzemski went the other way and carried it all the way to the left-field wall, and when Jay Bruce couldn’t play the carom off the wall, Bumgarner and Belt were able to score rather easily, and the Giants had a 3-0 lead.
Bumgarner lost his no-hitter in the sixth, when Cesar Hernandez pinch-hit for Nola and promptly ripped a single up the middle.
With two out in the sixth, the Giants – particularly Kevin Pillar – took advantage of a pair of Philly mistakes to tack on another run. Pillar reached base on a fielder’s choice, and as he stole second, he forced a bad throw from catcher Andrew Knapp that sailed into center field and allowed him to scoot on to third.
After he walked Crawford, reliever Nick Pivetta uncorked a wild pitch that rolled to the backstop, which Pillar used to scamper to the plate and give the Giants a 4-0 advantage. Yastrzemski added to that lead with one mighty swing of the bat, pulverizing a Pivetta fastball and sending it into the arcade in right-center for a solo homer.
“You pull for these guys (like Yastrzemski),” Bochy said. “He spent a lot of time in the minor leagues, and finally gets called up, and he hasn’t been in awe of anything.
“He’s been like that since Day 1. He’s just a nice all-around player.”