Instant Replay: Giants 5, Astros 1

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Instant Replay: Giants 5, Astros 1

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants began the unofficial second half of the season with as close to a sure thing as possible -- Madison Bumgarner starting at AT&T Park. His seven-inning gem against the Houston Astros, coupled with Buster Posey's Barry Bonds-like blast in the first inning showed the Giants needed no luck to earn a 5-1 win on Orange Friday the 13th.Starting pitching report:Madison Bumgarner is plain hard to hit at AT&T Park.The game started the way you want it to. One pitch, one All-Star retired as Jose Altuve flew out to fellow N.L. All-Star Melky Cabrera to start the game. Altuve, who was 5-for-11 with a home run against Bumgarner coming in, went 0-for-3 against the Giants' starter.Bumgarner allowed baserunners in each of the first three innings, but stranded them all. Then he settled into his steely groove, tossing three-up, three-down fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Bumgarner left plenty of Houston thumbs in the batters box, inducing multiple broken-bat ground balls.It looked to be more of the same in the seventh until, with two outs, Bumgarner elevated a 91-mph two-seam fastball to Chris Snyder, and Snyder got all of it, sending it deep into the AT&T alleyway down the left-field line to break up the shutout. It was the second and final hit Bumgarner allowed. Bumgarner got former Giant Matt Downs to fly out to right field to end the top of the inning and left the field for last time Friday to a standing ovation.Bumgarner's final line: Seven innings pitched, two hits, one earned run, two walks, five strikeouts, 105 pitches, 64 strikes and another dominant home win. He earned his 11th win on the season, matching Lance Lynn for second in the N.L.The 22-year-old southpaw is now to 15-2 in his last 18 home starts. He entered the game fourth in the National League with a home ERA of 1.88 (Ryan Vogelsong is first at 1.43).Bullpen report:Javier Lopez entered for Bumgarner in the eighth inning and struck out the only batter he faced, Brian Bogusevic. Lopez gave way to Sergio Romo, who retired Altuve on the first pitch and got Brian Bixler to strike out swinging. The best right- and left-handed specialist pairing in the majors showed why.The Giants scored a run in the ninth to eliminate the save situation, and it was Romo who trotted out for the final three outs. But after a single and a walk, Bochy elected to bring in his closer -- Santiago Casilla. Bochy said before the game that Casilla's blister is fully healed, and Casilla backed his manager's words by striking out Chris Johnson and Chris Snyder to end the game.With the bats:The Giants picked up where they left off in the All-Star game, scoring four times in the first two frames. It was more than the staff needed.After a first-inning walk to Ryan Theriot, Buster Posey faced Wandy Rodriguez with two outs and no respect. He clubbed an 89-mph two-seam fastball an estimated 448 feet to dead center field, sending the crowd into a nostalgic frenzy as the words "Barry Bonds" passed in whispers around the stadium like the forbidden wave. The crack of Posey's contact was Bonds-like, too.The blast was just the Giants' 15th at AT&T Park this season, and their ninth in the last 22 games. They entered Friday's game tied with the Dodgers for the least home runs in the majors (51).The second inning was just as productive as the first. Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt each slipped singles into left field and with Joaquin Arias in the box, Bruce Bochy called for the double steal. Without Pagan and Belt in motion, Arias' ground ball to third base is a 5-4-3 double play. Instead, Astros third baseman Chris Johnson broke for the bag and Arias' ground ball barely evaded the Pagan's head-long dive en route to the safety of the left-field grass. Pagan scored, Belt moved to third and the Giants were poised for a big inning with runners at the corners and Madison Bumgarner up with no outs. They only managed to make it 4-0, scoring Belt on Justin Christian's ground out.The Giants wasted three singles and two stolen bases in the middle innings before Nate Schierholtz -- who was hammering the ball in multiple batting practice sessions before the game -- led off the seventh with a triple. The Giants committed the Cardinal Offensive Sin and failed to score him.Pablo Sandoval gave them a chance for atonement when his drive down the right field line ended in a belly-slide into third base, his first non-All-Star Game triple of the season. Pagan sent a shallow fly to left field and Sandoval made the unwise decision to tag up. The ball beat him to home easily, but Sandoval went Jack Parkman in Major League and told Chris Snyder not to stand on the tracks while the train's coming through. The collision between 240-pounders resulted in a dislodged ball and Sandoval re-tagged home plate for the Giants' fifth and final run.With the gloves:Madison Bumgarner set the defensive tone in the first inning when J.D. Martinez lined a ball right back up the box. Bumgarner snared it with his glove, but with too much heat to be contained, it rattled out toward the first-base line. Bumgarner took a second to identify what happened before launching into action. He channeled Tim Lincecum, dropped into a double-knee slide around the ball, scooped it up barehanded and threw on to Brandon Belt to end the inning. Just like you draw it up.The Giants, who led the N.L. at the break with 69 errors, played clean defense behind Bumgarner.On the bases:After a two-out single in the fifth, Ryan Theriot stole his ninth base of the season. Melky Cabrera faked a bunt, and Theriot, who broke on Rodriguez's first move, slid in feet first. The extra 90 feet didn't matter, as Cabrera fanned on a low, sharp curveball.Angel Pagan was next to attempt after his two-out infield single in the sixth inning. Pagan, too, went on first move and his head-first dive barely beat Chris Snyder's throw for his 16th swiped bag this year.Theriot wasn't all impressive on the bases, though. Standing on first base in the seventh inning with Schierholtz on third, Theriot ran into a double play. He tried to put on the brakes and backtrack on a slow ground ball to second, but had gone too far to prevent Altuve from tagging him and retiring Melky Cabrera to end the inning with a 4-3 double play.Attendance:The announced attendance of 42,116 resembled a tiered pumpkin patch thanks to the orange fur headdress giveaways from Hanwha Solar on Fireworks Night.Up next:Saturday marks a big start for Tim Lincecum (3-10, 6.42), as GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that if he cannot progress, his spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy. He'll face Lucas Harrell (7-6, 4.56) when the Astros visit the Giants in Game 2 of the three-game series Saturday at 6:05 p.m. Get it hot with Giants Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

SAN FRANCISCO — With the winning run on second and a bat in his hands, Cory Gearrin allowed himself to dream. He was a second baseman at Mercer University years ago and he entered the night with a 1.000 batting average in the big leagues. Why couldn’t this be his night on the mound and at the plate?

Gearrin stopped on the way to the plate and told Buster Posey that he was going to walk it off. He dug in against right-hander Chad Qualls and waited for the first sinker. He swung over the top of it, but he felt it was a quality hack. And then he missed the next sinker, and then the next. 

“I felt good going into that at-bat,” Gearrin said. “It was fun getting that opportunity. I’ve never faced a sinker like that. I felt like I missed it … by a lot.”

Gearrin can take solace in two facts. First, using his own sinker, he pitched three shutout innings, more than earning his keep, and he was a well-deserved winning pitcher in a 4-3 win over the Rockies that became official one minute after midnight.

Second, perhaps he gave the next hitter, Denard Span, a better view of an opposing pitcher’s repertoire. 

“Yeah ... he gave me a lot of information during that at-bat,” Span said as he laughed. 

Okay, so maybe Gearrin’s contributions were limited to the mound, but oh what a job he did against one of the best lineups in the National League. Span didn’t glean anything from Gearrin’s brief battle, but he didn’t need to. He spat on a changeup and then ripped a sinker into right, allowing Gorkys Hernandez to race home for a 14th-inning victory. 

Span, who is open about his distrust of birds, had spent nearly two hours standing under a circling flock of seagulls. Between pitches, he often dropped his hands onto his knees, looking more eager than anyone for the night to end. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me,” he said. “I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.”

The single gave the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. It validated so much good work, from the five relievers who got the ball to Gearrin, to the Brandons who turned a snazzy double play in the 11th, to Buster Posey, who twice threw out runners at second in extra innings. Gearrin shouted out the defense in his post game media session. 

“It’s not news to us that we’ve got gold glovers all over the field,” he said. 

The Giants trailed by a pair after Matt Cain hung a curveball to Mark Reynolds, but they chipped away. The Rockies were the jumpier team in extra innings, but every rally was cut down by stellar defense and quality pitches. Gearrin threw 34 of them. 

The veteran right-hander had never before recorded more than six outs in a big league game. He got nine outs Tuesday, giving Bochy one extension after another as he battled to make it through a game shorthanded. With Conor Gillaspie headed to the DL, the Giants had just three position players on the bench. That meant Ty Blach was used as a pinch-runner. Jeff Samardzija pinch-hit in the 11th. Bochy thought of using Matt Moore in the 14th when the pitcher’s spot came up. Hunter Strickland was warming up to pitch the 15th, but …

“I could have hit Moore — I probably should have,” Bochy said, smiling. “But Cory is a pretty good athlete and had a pretty good average going into that at-bat. The numbers swayed me.”

Gearrin got his first career at-bat last season and singled. He has not even taken batting practice since that day, but he was fired up when given the opportunity. He was still so fired up after the Giants chased Span into the outfield that he didn’t mind the fact that his shiny 1.000 batting average has been cut in half. 

“I got to use that line for a year,” he said. “But I’ll gladly sacrifice the 1.000 average for a walk-off win.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This, at long last, is a winning streak. A modest one, but still. 

Denard Span hit a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 win that became official one minute after midnight. The Giants have back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. 

The Giants led early, fell behind on a three-run dinger, and then chipped away until the game went to extras. Buster Posey twice gunned runners down at second to help keep the score tied and the bullpen held tough, with Cory Gearrin throwing three scoreless innings. 

Gearrin had a chance to win it for himself in the 14th, but he struck out with Gorkys Hernandez on second. Span promptly singled. If you’re just waking up for work, here are five things to know from a night when the seagulls outnumbered the humans … 

--- Matt Cain needs an assist on the first run of the night. With Gorkys Hernandez on first, he got a sacrifice bunt down on a two-strike curveball that was headed for the dirt. Hernandez went to second and promptly scored on Denard Span’s single to right. The curveball wasn’t so kind in the sixth. With a runner on, the Giants intentionally walked lifelong nemesis Nolan Arenado to get to Mark Reynolds. Cain hung a curve and Reynolds crushed it to left for a three-run homer. 

--- The Giants got a run back in the sixth when Brandon Crawford’s deep fly allowed Buster Posey to trot in from third. Crawford leads the majors with nine sacrifice flies. He also turned a ridiculous double play that can’t adequately be described, except to say that he should expand his trophy case. 

--- Kelby Tomlinson came off the bench to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. His single to right brought Brandon Belt in from third. Tomlinson is 9 for 27 as a pinch-hitter this season. That’ll keep you on the chartered jets. 

--- Sam Dyson, with a fastball that reached 97 and an infield defense that was just as firm, pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings in extras. What a find. 

--- With the go-ahead run on first and no outs in the 13th, Nolan Arenado put down a sacrifice bunt. That's one of the five best moments of the Giants' season.