Arias, Sanchez help Giants win in a pinch

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Arias, Sanchez help Giants win in a pinch

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON Division winners find the handshake line in manydifferent ways.

They can bash their way to a victory. They can stand behinda worthy ace to win 2-1. And, every once in awhile, they have to battle whendown to their last three outs, or even their last strike.

The Giants in 2010 found ways to claim those zombievictories, whether it was Juan Uribes huge home run at Dodger Stadium inSeptember or Freddy Sanchez singling off Craig Kimbrel in the NL DivisionSeries.

Its one road to the handshake line that these currentGiants hadnt traveled very often.

And as much as they would have preferred to trounce theAstros Tuesday night, as most of the league has done since the All-Star break,perhaps there is something more to be gained from entering the ninth down 2-1and entering that handshake line as 3-2 winners.

After all, the Giants were 2-50 when trailing after eight innings.Their pinch hitters had combined for a .177 average, dead last in the NL. Butafter Brandon Belt singled off a lefty, Wesley Wright, the bench camethrough. Joaquin Arias doubled in the tying run off Wilton Lopez and HectorSanchez, fully expecting a changeup, stayed back and got just enough of hisbroken-bat single to put the Giants ahead.

Sure, it came against the Astros, who mark save situations as if they were moon phases. No matter. The Giants won in a pinch, and they'll remember that the next time they need to win that way.

One more fun fact: Lo and behold, the Giants now hold a 3 -game lead in the NLWest their largest advantage of the season.

One of our biggest hits this year, Bochy said of Arias,who continues to scald the ball in August. It goes to show you how importantthe bench is. Its a tight ballgame and thats what you need. Were down tothree outs but youve got to keep fighting and they did that. Its why you gohard for 27 outs.

Sergio Romo said the Giants bullpen erupted with both ofthose pinch hits. So did Matt Cain, who had rolled in the dirt moments earlier,scowling in anger, when a wild 3-2 curveball allowed the Astros to score the tie-breaking run in the eighth.

This is great for us, to come back and win, Cain said. Thatswhat you want to be able to do with three outs left, and for those guys to stepup, I think thats going to build a lot of momentum for us during the week.

The Giants have three days left to see what the waiver wiremight bring them, but the Dodgers are behind them in the standings and might aswell have flyswatters in both hands. Its unlikely anyone who could help Scott Hairston, etc. will get through without being claimed.

So the Giants are likely to make do with the bench theyhave, and it is not an experienced lot. They have Ryan Theriot and Aubrey Huff,for whatever he might have left, will rejoin them as part of Saturdays rosterexpansion.

But Arias will get at-bats in key situations. So willSanchez.

Those guys, said Pablo Sandoval, beaming with pride, theymade it look easy.

Said Sanchez, of his single: He threw me a really good pitch,a changeup. Thats a pitch I was looking for and I tried to stay back. I brokemy bat, but I hit it in a good spot. Hey, I take it. Its a good one.

It wasnt the way the Giants wanted to beat the Astros, whoare 8-46 since June 28 the worst 56-game stretch of any major league teamsince the 1961 Phillies.

If anything, the Giants learned not to take the Astroslightly over the rest of this series and beyond, considering all but six oftheir remaining games (against the Dodgers) are against clubs that currentlyhave losing records.

I dont look at it that way and I dont want to hear it,Bochy said. Youve got to play your best ball. Thats the last thing I want tohear, or the players to hear. Youve got to be ready to go every night.

To the very end, too.

Giants trade Chris Heston to Mariners

Giants trade Chris Heston to Mariners

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Faced with a crowded depth chart and a need for a roster spot, the Giants shipped right-hander Chris Heston to Seattle on Wednesday night.

The Mariners announced the deal shortly after 7pm PT on Wednesday.

Heston, who made 31 starts and threw a no-hitter for the Giants in 2015, would have been designated for assignment had a deal not gotten done. The Giants will receive a player to be named later. The move clears a 40-man roster spot for closer Mark Melancon, who signed Monday. 

Heston, 28, filled in after injuries to veterans in 2015 and posted a 3.95 ERA and 12 wins, one of which was a no-hitter in New York. He was a first-half savior for an unhealthy staff, going 9-5 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 starts before the All-Star break. The long season caught up to Heston down the stretch, and the Giants filled their rotation that December with free agents Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. 

Heston made just four appearances in 2016 after being moved to the bullpen. It was a transition that didn't quite take, and he ended up back in the minors, making 14 starts for the River Cats as he worked to regain some of the velocity that was lost when he dropped 15 pounds during offseason workouts. An oblique injury led to Heston being put on the 60-day DL in June and ultimately ended his season. 

This represents a needed fresh start for Heston, who was hopelessly blocked in the Giants’ system. The Giants acquired Matt Moore at the deadline and Ty Blach and Matt Cain will compete for the final rotation spot. Veteran Albert Suarez and top pitching prospect Tyler Beede are among the starters who had jumped ahead of Heston. In Seattle, he joins a team in need of starting depth, and he should get a shot to return to a big league rotation.

Kuiper has been told to expect many boring ninth innings from Melancon

Kuiper has been told to expect many boring ninth innings from Melancon

Over the last three seasons, nobody has registered more saves than new Giants closer Mark Melancon.

The three-time All-Star is 131 for 141 in save opportunities over that span.

Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper spoke with Nationals broadcaster F.P. Santangelo about what Melancon brings to the table.

"Mike (Krukow) and I both talked to F.P. and he basically said, 'He's boring. The ninth inning is boring.' And we were like, 'Really? Wow. We haven't seen that in awhile.' So a boring ninth inning would be good for everybody," Kuiper said on KNBR 680 on Wednesday. "Our fans, it would certainly be good for our manager and pitching coach because those two guys had to wear it."

[RELATED: Dusty Baker: 'I hate losing Melancon,' Giants have more resources than Nats]

The Giants blew 30 saves in 2016 -- the most in baseball -- and Giants GM Bobby Evans made it very clear from the moment the season ended that adding a closer was the team's top priority.

San Francisco is confident assimilating Melancon won't be an issue.

He looks like one of those guys who will fit into the clubhouse immediately," Kuiper said.