Photo credit: @MLBONFOX
By Jeremy Kahn
SAN FRANCISCO — Two of the veterans came through when the San Francisco Giants needed it the most, in the late innings versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
Hunter Pence came through in the clutch with a pinch-hit to lead-off the bottom of the seventh inning, and after a Buster Posey intentional walk, Andrew McCutchen singled to right to score Pence to give the Giants a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals before a crowd of 37,996 at AT&T Park on Friday night.
Alen Hanson sent Pence to second with a sacrifice bunt, and then eventual losing pitcher John Brebbla intentionally walked Posey and McCutchen singled to score Pence from second.
The Cardinals took an early 1-0 lead off of Dereck Rodriguez in the top of the second inning, as Kolten Wong double in Paul DeJong. The inning could have been worse for the Giants, but the smart thinking of Brandon Crawford put a stop to that.
Jedd Gyorko hit a triple to right-center, but Rodriguez got DeJong to ground to Crawford, who home to Buster Posey, and who tagged Gyorko out.
The Giants tied up the game in the bottom of the second inning without the benefit of a hit, as both Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval each walked. Joe Panik then lined out to right field that sent Crawford to third base, and with Gorkys Hernandez at the plate, Jon Gant unfurled a wild pitch that allowed Crawford to score the tying run.
Panik’s single snapped a 0-for-16 streak with that single in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Sandoval gave the Giants in the bottom of the sixth inning, as he launched a Gant pitch and put it into the left field bleachers for his seventh home run of the season.
The Cardinals tied up the game in the top of the seventh inning, as after Rodriguez retired the first two batters of the inning, he allowed a single to DeJong and then Wong tripled to right field to tie up the game.
That would be the last pitch that Rodriguez would throw, as Bruce Bochy replaced the rookie with Reyes Moronta, who promptly struck out Bader to end the Cardinals’ threat.
Rodriguez went 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out one, but he did not fare in the decision.
Over his last three starts, Rodriguez has an earned run average of 1.35, as he has given up just three earned runs in 20 innings.
Gant went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking three and striking out five for the Cardinals.
Moronta faced just one batter, as he struck out Bader to end the seventh inning and picked up his fifth win of the season.
Brebbla pitched one inning, allowing one run on three hits, walking one and striking out one, as his record fell to 1-2 on the season.
With his scoreless inning in the top of the eighth, Tony Watson became just the third Giants reliever in the San Francisco era to throw 19 or more scoreless at home in a single season.
Watson joins Gary Lavelle, who threw 21 scoreless innings in 1979, and Greg Minton, who threw 27 scoreless innings in 1980.
NOTES: Jeff Samardzija will make his return to the starting rotation on Saturday afternoon, and it will be his ninth start of the season. The Cardinals will send Carlos Martinez to the mound, as he will look for his sixth win of the season.
Panik was forced to leave the game with a strained left groin after he came up limping on a double by a Gorkys Hernandez in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The second baseman will undergo an MRI on Saturday, and it could result in Panik returning to the disabled list for the second time this season.
This is the second of 34 consecutive games for the Giants in the Pacific Time zone. The next game outside of the time zone will take place on August 17, when the Giants open a three-game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark.
Outfielder Heliot Ramos (World) and Right-Handed Pitcher Shaun Anderson (United States) will represent the Giants in the Futures Game at Nationals Park on July 15 in Washington, D.C.
UP NEXT: The Giants and Cardinals face off again Saturday afternoon at 1:05 pm PDT.