Belt expected pitchers duel, drove in six runs instead
In his last five games Hunter Pence is batting .500 with 4 HR and 16 RBI. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
LOS ANGELES – Well, first, here’s the downside: The Giants could only gain one game in the standings on the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday night.
It only felt like more.
It was a night for a group of frustrated, last-place defending champions to tan some leather. Hunter Pence hit the Giants’ first grand slam of the season while driving in seven runs, Brandon Belt plucked a second fiddle as big as a cello while contributing a five-hit, six-RBI night and the Giants crushed their archrivals 19-3
It was the most runs a team has scored in a game in Dodger Stadium’s 51-year history.
Pence set a career best just four days after he matched his previous high of six RBIs. He’s driven in 15 runs over his past five games, and stands at 89 after that binge -- suddenly within spitting distance of driving in 100 for the second consecutive season. Not a bad way to enter free agency, eh?
Belt had a fine foray of antiquing in garbage time, hitting a two-run home run in the seventh and a two-run double in the eighth to set career highs with five hits and six RBIs.
It was the first time the Giants had two players drive in at least six runs in a game since Will Clark and Rick Parker each collected six RBIs on June 8, 1990 at Atlanta.
The 19 runs is most any visitor has scored against the Dodgers since 1961, when the Phillies scored 19 against them at the L.A. Coliseum.
Even the rookies got to wave from this offensive parade, too. Johnny Monell and Ehire Adrianza both collected their first big league hits in the game. And Tim Lincecum had two hits, too.
Starting pitching report
Lincecum beat the Dodgers for the second time in three starts this season, holding them to three runs on five hits and two walks in six innings.
He had trouble with Yasiel Puig, who singled, walked and was hit by a pitch in three confrontations. The last one, in the sixth, involved a first-pitch plunking immediately after Alex Castellanos hit a pinch homer. But Lincecum tapped his chest and appeared to say “my bad,” and Puig did not escalate matters.
Lincecum nearly became unhinged in the fifth, as he allowed a pair of singles after hitting Puig. But he escaped with two fly outs to position himself for the decision.
Lincecum hit 94 mph in the early innings and looked crisp most of the night, but he did forget to cover a base for the second time in as many starts. In fairness, this one was an odd situation. The Giants were playing an infield shift on Carl Crawford and there was nobody to cover third base after Pablo Sandoval fielded his grounder. Puig advanced from first to third on the play.
Lincecum (10-13) is a double-digit winner for the sixth consecutive season.
Sorry, Brandon Belt. You might never get to pitch.
At the plate
The Dodgers did not start a stiff. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco is a Giants nemesis who had a 2.09 ERA in nine starts against them.
But the Giants took advantage of wildness and a couple of defensive miscues to score three runs in the first inning and then spring a four-run rally in the second. Pence hit an RBI single in the first inning and then laced a two-run single as part of the next rally.
Nolasco had allowed 16 runs to the Giants in his career. He allowed seven on Saturday while retiring just four batters.
From there, the Giants didn’t let up.
Pence’s grand slam in the fifth inning off Stephen Fife not only gave him his third home run in as many nights here, but it also set him up with the first seven-RBI game by a Giant since Marco Scutaro’s memorable afternoon at St. Louis last season. It was the most RBIs by any player at Dodger Stadium since the Cardinals’ Fernando Tatis hit two grand slams in an inning April 23, 1999. It was most by a Giant at Dodger Stadium since Barry Bonds drove in seven on Oct. 1, 1993.
The faucet stayed on as the Giants scored multiple runs in each of the last three innings. They scored 19 runs against the Dodgers for the first time since April 16, 1962, at brand spanking new Candlestick Park.
Pence received one last at-bat in the seventh inning with a chance to match or set the San Francisco-era franchise record of eight RBIs, last done by Orlando Cepeda and Willie Mays in 1961.
He grounded into a double play.
And that was enough for one night. Giants manager Bruce Bochy gave Pence the last three innings off, and you know it had to bother him. Pence, who has started every game, has played all but 16 of the club’s defensive innings in right field this season. That works out to 98.8 percent.
As far as actual defensive gems, the Dodgers’ Juan Uribe made a pair of them at third base. And Puig made a sliding catch on Buster Posey just prior to Pence’s grand slam.
Puig also appeared to injure himself on the play. He remained in the game for the remainder of the inning but was replaced in the sixth. There was no reason to keep him in a lopsided game, anyway.
The Dodgers announced 53,062 paid, and the home crowd won’t get to see a clinching celebration. That much was guaranteed by the sixth inning, when Arizona’s victory went final against the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers’ magic number remained at four. They’ll clinch the NL West on their upcoming, three-city road trip.
The Giants finish up their four-game series at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, and a victory will allow them to finish the season 5-5 at Chavez Ravine. Ryan Vogelsong (3-5, 5.82 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Edinson Volquez (9-11, 5.99). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PDT.