AT&T PARK — The San Francisco Giants have been in 28 contests this season that were decided by a single run; the Philadelphia Phillies have logged 25.
So it only made sense two teams that play more one-run games than most decided their weekend series that way on Sunday.
The Giants ended the game on a walkoff hit from stand-in third baseman Conor Gillaspie to deliver an 8-7 victory, bringing the team’s record to 49-28.
The win marks No. 800 for manager Bruce Bochy with the Giants. He’s just the fourth in team history to reach that milestone, and in his mind, he reached it in fitting fashion by revisiting a familiar theme.
“It was a torturous type of game,” he said. “Looked like we had things under control and then it started getting away from us.”
Early in the contest, it appeared the game would never get that tight as starter Johnny Cueto survived the first inning, when he usually struggles, by surrendering a single run after Odubel Herrera doubled to lead off the game.
Phillies starter Aaron Nola allowed plenty of run support for the Giants’ No. 2 starter when he lost sight of the strike zone in the bottom of the third, leading to a four-run frame. The inning was disastrous for the second-year right hander as he gave up four hits and hit two straight San Francisco hitters.
Cueto quickly retired the first two hitters at the top of the fourth before plunking third baseman Maikel Franco with a 91 mph two-seam fastball. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings warned Cueto and both benches that any more hit batters would lead to ejections, which affected Cueto.
He said after the game that after issuing the warning, Eddings stopped giving him the outside strike and he wasn’t going to challenge hitters inside due to fear of a pitch getting away.
“After I hit Franco, his strike zone changed dramatically,” Cueto said through Spanish-language interpreter Erwin Higueros.
Bochy noticed a change in his starter as well.
“He was cruising and we get the warning and it seemed like that threw him out of sync there,” he said. “… We kind of let them back in the game.”
Cueto struggled after retiring 11 of the first 12 batters he faced. Ultimately, he squandered a 5-1 lead when Cody Asche connected for a single through middle, scoring a pair. He was pulled after Herrera led off the seventh with a homerun to right-centerfield and Peter Bourjos slapped a single. The six earned runs allowed ties a season-high for Cueto, who had logged a quality start in each of his last nine appearances.
But the Giants hitters answered in the sixth and seventh innings thanks to Angel Pagan. In the sixth, he led off with a single and scored on a Brandon Crawford single. He drove in the tying run in his next at bat with a double down the right field line.
“What a series he had, what a game he had today. You see they’re big hits too,” Bochy said. “Since he’s come back [from the disabled list], he’s been swinging the bat very well.”
A slicing double to the base of the right-field wall from Ramiro Pena in the bottom of the ninth put the Giants in striking distance and Gillaspie delivered No. 800 for his skipper with a single to right.
“As far as the number , I know I’m lucky,” Bochy said, “and I don’t think John McGraw (the franchise leader with 2,583 victories) has anything to worry about.”