San Francisco Giants explode with hit barrage after series of wake-up calls

AT&T Park — San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy criticized his players for not starting Thursday’s game with enough energy, and he took part in a meeting with club executives before Friday’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates to discuss the state of the organization.

The Giants (58-59) answered those wake-up calls with one of their best first innings of the season, enabling them to roll to a 13-10 win over the Pirates.

“We’ve been due for a game like this,” Bochy said. “It just got contagious tonight. They started swinging with more authority.”

Shortstop Brandon Crawford began the contest with a diving catch on a soft liner up the middle, and on the next play, left fielder Alen Hanson charged and laid out at full extension to rob Pirates center fielder Starling Marte of a hit.

In the bottom half of the frame, Giants right fielder Andrew McCutchen launched a solo home run, kickstarting a three-run inning in which all nine batters came to the plate.

After making three errors and not notching a hit until the fifth inning in Thursday’s 10-5 defeat, San Francisco avoided any miscues in the field Friday. Catcher Buster Posey led a balanced offense, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs, while Hanson went 3-for-6 with three RBIs and a stolen base.

“Good at-bats throughout the order,” Bochy said. “We executed well. In the first inning, it was good to see us score.”

Hanson made another diving catch with one out in the second, and after lobbing the ball back to the infield, he opened his eyes wide and stuck his tongue out to recognize his own accomplishments.

“[That] looked like it was in slow-motion,” said starter Derek Holland said. “Those guys are laying out, and that’s what I like to see. They’re giving everything they’ve got … they know each one of these games from here on out we’ve got to win.”

The momentum carried into the third inning, when Holland beat out an infield single to load the bases and spark a two-out rally. “Wheels baby,” Holland said. McCutchen then drew an RBI walk and Posey fisted a two-run single to shallow left-center field, putting the Giants up 6-1.

By the fifth, San Francisco had already equalled its hit total from the previous three games combined (14). The Giants finished with 16 knocks, and also drew 11 free passes.

Holland surrendered five runs (four earned) across 6 1/3 innings, though three of those runs were charged when reliever Pierce Johnson allowed all three of his inherited runners to score via a Francisco Cervelli grand slam in the seventh.

Right-hander Sam Dyson escaped further damage in the seventh by striking out Pirates pinch-hitter Gregory Polanco. After left-hander Tony Watson gave up two runs in the eighth, closer Will Smith sealed the victory with a one-run ninth.

For the first time this week, San Francisco gained ground in the playoff race. Bochy’s squad is now six games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

“It shows some resiliency,” third baseman Evan Longoria said. “Offensively, we’re able to build some confidence and momentum.”

***

Longoria exited in the seventh inning after being hit in the back with a fastball from Pirates reliever Kyle Crick. The former Giants right-hander was particularly wild Friday, drawing some ire from the San Francisco dugout.

“He threw one pretty close to hitting me and then he hit me, and then he threw a couple more to the backstop, so just obviously didn’t have a very good feel for where the ball was going tonight,” Longoria said.

Longoria is day-to-day with a back contusion.

***

On Saturday, Ty Blach will make his first start since June 14. He has a 4.28 ERA this season.

Dan Bernstein

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