Giants notes: With Nuñez ailing, Gillaspie comes up big

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Giants notes: With Nuñez ailing, Gillaspie comes up big

SAN FRANCISCO -- The ball shot into the misty air and Matt Moore immediately looked far down the line. He thought Chase Utley had hit a pop-up closer to left field, but then he saw Conor Gillaspie approaching a camera well. Then, he watched as Gillaspie tumbled into the equipment and onto the ground, the ball tucked into his glove.

"What an effort, man," Moore said, shaking his head. "That's what this group of guys is about right there. The effort is always there. The calmness about them."

Moore smiled. "I was a little more concerned about his overall health," he said. 

Gillaspie said all is good after the spectacular diving catch. No serious bumps or bruises, which is a big deal given the current state of third base. The Giants are not very confident that Eduardo Nuñez will be ready to go Wednesday, so Gillaspie is almost certainly in for a night with Noah Syndergaard. He looks ready for it. 

[RATTO: Giants must forget the past, focus on Bochy's magic 2013 shirt]

Gillaspie was a quiet star of the final homestand, a 5-1 run through the Rockies and Dodgers. He went 7-for-14 with five runs driven in. The defense at third far exceeded the expectations the Giants had for Gillspie when he first returned. That side of the ball has never been his calling card, but Gillaspie repeatedly came through over the weekend. 

"You talk about his hitting, but what a great job he did at third base," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He did a great job down there and that's not what he's known for."

Gillaspie has had an up-and-down career in the big leagues, but he has blossomed in his second chance with the Giants. He has turned into Bochy's most reliable bench bat, but he said he hasn't given much thought to what this year has meant, or what the last week could mean for his future. 

"The reality is we had to win every game," he said. "That's the only thing on my mind: How can I contribute."

--- About that roster and Nuñez: The Giants have until 10 a.m. on Wednesday to make final decisions. Bobby Evans said the next two days will be "telling" for Nuñez, but he added that he "has a lot of things he needs to do." Nuñez has progressed to light jogging and throwing. Behind the scenes, the Giants have been trying to pull back a little bit and make sure he's available for the entire month, not just one game. 

--- Brandon Belt finished as the team leader in homers (17) and Brandon Crawford led in RBI (84). Belt also led in on-base percentage (.394) and slugging (4.74). Of note: Crawford stole his seventh base Sunday, finishing one ahead of his friend Buster Posey. That will surely be mentioned a time or two hundred. Madison Bumgarner edged Johnny Cueto for the team lead in innings (226 2/3 to 219 2/3) and ERA (2.74 to 2.79) and he finished with a career-high 251 strikeouts. Derek Law paced the bullpen with a 2.13 ERA and Hunter Strickland made a team-high 72 appearances. 

--- There is plenty more coming tomorrow and over the next couple days. More stats, quotes and highlights from today can be found on my Twitter feed @AlexPavlovic. And if you need something to get you through the travel day, all my podcasts are archived here.

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pittsburgh Pirates kept clearing the fences, and the San Francisco Giants were left arguing plate umpire Chris Conroy's tough strike zone.

Even Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle understood the beef.

Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs, Gerrit Cole won for the fifth time in six starts, and the Pirates beat San Francisco 10-3 on Monday night.

"I think there was some frustration really all night," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who watched most of the game from his office after an ejection in the second. "I don't think he had a real good night, to be honest, as far as consistency, but that really had nothing to do with what happened tonight. We gave up three-run homers."

Jordy Mercer added a three-run shot of his own in the eighth to further back Cole (8-7), 5-1 in his last eight starts. That lone defeat came June 30 as San Francisco swept the Pirates at Pittsburgh from June 30-July 2 - the Giants' first in the series since 2009.

This time, Pittsburgh immediately jumped on San Francisco starter Matt Cain (3-9), who matched the longest losing streak of his career at eight games - also done from July 28, 2015-May 10, 2016.

Bochy was tossed by Conroy for arguing balls and strikes in support of Cain moments after McCutchen connected, the skipper's second time being tossed this year. San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti then got tossed in the ninth.

"It was a tough zone," Hurdle said. "They lost two people on their side thrown out of the game."

Cole allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, struck out four and walked four.

He improved to 4-1 in six career starts against San Francisco. The Pirates won their seventh straight game at AT&T Park and ninth in 10, including sweeps both last year and in 2015.

Buster Posey hit a pair of RBI singles in San Francisco's fourth loss in five games.

McCutchen hit his 18th homer as the Pirates cleared the fences in San Francisco for a sixth straight game. His RBI groundout in the first started things off for a Pittsburgh club that had lost back-to-back games on the heels of a season-best, six-game winning streak, including a 13-3 flop in the finale against the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field.

Josh Bell and Starling Marte each doubled home a run and Josh Harrison added an RBI single.

"This offense is good, we've shown that," McCutchen said.

Cain matched his second-shortest outing of the year at four innings and is winless in his last 11 starts, the longest by a Giants pitcher since the right-hander went 15 outings without a victory during his previous eight-game skid.

CHEERS TO THE HOME RUN KING:
Former slugger Barry Bonds, who played for both teams, received a greeting on the scoreboard for his 53rd birthday but the career home run king wasn't in the stands.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco, who strained his left hamstring Friday at Colorado and landed on the 10-day disabled list, tested his leg with some straightaway running and was going to do some riding on the stationary bike with the hopes he can hit in the cage soon. Hurdle said he did witness Polanco scurry across a street to avoid being hit by a car, then acknowledged it wasn't that close a call. ... With an off day Thursday at San Diego, the starters will get an extra day of rest.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto played catch and said the trouble spots on three of his pitching fingers are greatly improved. He said they aren't true blisters. The plan is for him to play catch again Tuesday and perhaps throw off the mound Wednesday if all continues to go well. ... Closer Mark Melancon had the day off as he recovers from a second DL stint with a strained forearm. He will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, Bochy said, and face hitters this weekend in Los Angeles if ready.

UP NEXT:
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (6-3, 3.08 ERA) is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since returning from the DL on June 12, just more than a month after surgery for testicular cancer. He seeks his first decision against the Giants in two starts.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 3.57) tries again for his first victory of 2017 in his third outing back from missing nearly three months following a dirt bike accident April 20 in Colorado.

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy's night didn't last very long.

The Giants manager was ejected in the top of the second inning Monday after arguing with the home plate umpire.

The argument came after a three-run homer by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Bochy appeared to be voicing frustrating with the strike zone.

Bochy came out to argue with Chris Conroy and the home plate umpire threw him out almost immediately.

McCutchen's home run put the Pirates up 6-0 in the second inning.