Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, D'backs 4

Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, D'backs 4
April 29, 2013, 9:30 pm
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Brandon Belt also hit a solo home run in the second inning to give the Giants a 3-0 lead. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX – It’s a pretty big problem when your pitchers keep losing baseballs over the fence.

When you start losing players and managers, then you’ve really got issues.

Matt Cain served up three home runs in an inning for the first time in his career, Pablo Sandoval left in the middle of the sixth with right elbow discomfort and manager Bruce Bochy made his exit even earlier when he drew his first ejection of the season.

But the Giants overcame all while rallying for a 6-4 victory that ended a five-game losing streak.

Brandon Belt, moved down to the No.8 spot for the night, snapped a tie in the eighth inning with a two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded. He also hit a solo homer as the Giants clinched a winning record in a tumultuous April (14-12 with one game to play).

Now the Giants will burn offerings in the hope they’ll move into May with their World Series MVP. Sandoval exited after the top of the sixth with an elbow issue; as you’ll recall, he nearly started the season on the disabled list because of right elbow neuritis.

Starting pitching report
Cain pitched shutout baseball in five of his six innings. But the lone exception was exceptional, all right.

Cain gave up three home runs in an inning for the first time in his career. He followed a leadoff walk in the fourth to Cody Ross with a two-seamer to Jason Kubel that started inside and leaked back to the middle. Kubel’s towering shot had barely landed in the right field seats when Cain threw a breaking pitch on the outer half – not an obvious mistake -- that Eric Chavez lined over the opposite-field fence.

Cliff Pennington almost made it back-to-back-to-back shots with a deep drive that Hunter Pence gloved with his back against the wall.

But Martin Prado made it three homers in a five-batter span when he connected for a tiebreaking shot on a 1-2 fastball down the middle.

It was the ninth home run Cain had allowed all season – matching the total number he gave up in 2011. The most amazing thing: Cain has allowed all nine homers in his last four starts.

Only Cleveland’s Brett Myers (10) has allowed more homers in the majors. The Twins and Tigers entered the day having allowed just 11 homers as a staff.

One more … It was the 24th home run allowed by Giants starters this season, matching the Seattle Mariners’ rotation for the most in the major leagues. Cain and Ryan Vogelsong have combined to allow 16 of those 24 homers.

Home run factlets aside, Cain ended April with a 6.49 ERA. That's his highest in any month since July of 2007, when he was 1-3 with a 6.58 in five starts.

Bullpen report
Jean Machi, a well traveled 31-year-old, earned a very meaningful first major league win with another impressive outing. He struck out two in a scoreless seventh.

Javier Lopez struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth, but Ross singled and Santiago Casilla inherited his team-high 15th runner. Casilla has stranded 12 of them; he retired pinch hitter Alfredo Marte on a checkswing roller to Belt.

Sergio Romo allowed a leadoff single to Pennington in the ninth but retired the next three batters, including the dangerous Eric Hinske, to record his ninth save in 10 chances.

At the plate
The No.8 spot isn’t the ideal place to try to jumpstart a struggling hitter. But heck, Brandon Crawford has made hay there all season, and it sure seemed to do the trick for Belt.

Belt entered 2 for 15 with nine strikeouts against Arizona right-hander Ian Kennedy, but he battled back from an 0-2 count before yanking a home run that glanced off the top of the wall in the second inning.

It was Belt’s second homer but the first by a Giants first baseman all season. They were the last major league team that didn’t have a home run from first base.

Belt’s homer put the Giants up 3-0 and added to a lead they took in the first inning when Hunter Pence hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly and Gregor Blanco followed with an RBI single.

After the Diamondbacks’ homer barrage helped Arizona reclaim the lead, the Giants took advantage of more pitches up in the zone to tie it in the fifth. Marco Scutaro singled (reaching base for the third consecutive plate appearance), moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Sandoval’s single.

Sandoval’s replacement, Nick Noonan, ignited the two-run eighth with a leadoff double off sidewinding right-hander Brad Ziegler. Noonan took third on Posey’s deep fly out.

The Giants had a taste of Bochy’s patented “buzzard’s luck” after Pence sharply grounded out with one out and the infield in, preventing Noonan from scoring.

But Blanco and Crawford showed discipline while taking walks (Crawford took a borderline 3-2 pitch). And Belt stayed patient, too. He got ahead 3-1 before getting a pitch to his liking and grounding it through the middle.

Belt was the hero, but Scutaro had one of his best games of the season. He was 3 for 4 with a walk. Now the Giants just have to hope they won’t need Scutaro to play any third base.

In field
Ross made the highlight play of the game in the second inning, crashing against the wall while hauling in Angel Pagan’s deep drive. Arizona catcher Miguel Montero deserves special mention for saving Kennedy from, like, a dozen wild pitches.

The umpires weren’t as crisp. Bochy double-timed it onto the field after the top of the fifth, when Pence grounded into a double play but appeared to beat the throw. Replays confirmed that umpire Bill Miller blew the call.

Bochy waved his arms like a manager who wanted to light a fire under a team with a five-game losing streak. He saved a special word for just these occasions, and he must’ve uttered it. It was his 58th career ejection.

Attendance
The Diamondbacks announced 18,036 paid to see baseball under the stars. It was a nice night, so they cracked open the lid on Chase Field. And after he was ejected, Bochy probably sat in his office cracking open something colder.

Up next
The Giants continue their three-game series at Arizona’s Chase Field on Tuesday. It’ll be Madison Bumgarner (3-0, 1.87) against right-hander Trevor Cahill (1-3, 3.00). First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. PDT, and it will be televised on CSN Bay Area Plus because of the Warriors playoff telecast. Check with your local service provider for the channel number.

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