A day after making a wild throw from the outfield, Hunter Pence certainly wasn’t surprised to see the Milwaukee Brewers try to test his arm again.
This time the Giants outfielder made the Brewers pay with one of the two sparkling defensive plays he made.
Pence also came up big at the plate, proving why keeping him healthy and in the lineup is so critical to San Francisco’s push for the postseason.
Pence doubled in Matt Duffy to break a scoreless tie in the seventh inning and the Giants held on for a 5-0 victory Wednesday.
“Hunter’s a shot in the arm any time he’s on the field, offensively and defensively,” Giants starter Jake Peavy said. “We owe a lot to Hunter Pence, that’s for sure.”
Pence’s big day helped the Giants bounce back from their only loss on this six-game homestand and they beat the Brewers for the fifth time in six games this season.
Ehire Adrianza added a two-run single and Brandon Crawford had a sacrifice fly for the defending World Series champs, who scored all of their runs in the fourth inning.
San Francisco has won 10 of 12 games since the All-Star break.
Hunter Strickland (1-1) retired three batters for the win, his first since Sept. 27, 2014.
Gerardo Parra extended his hitting streak to 13 games, matching his career high, but the Brewers were shut out for the 12th time this season.
San Francisco’s defense played a big part in that.
Pence chased down Hernan Perez’s deep fly ball to the gap in right-center for the first out in the third, then doubled up Jonathan Lucroy trying to tag up from second base on Ryan Braun’s fly out in the fourth.
“If you looked at my throw last night, I would have challenged myself,” Pence said. “With the wind, I really didn’t even get behind the ball too great. I just threw up kind of a prayer up there and Duffy made an excellent tag.”
Left fielder Nori Aoki followed Pence’s gem with a tumbling catch near the foul line to end the inning.
Neither team did much until the Giants sent 10 men to the plate in the fourth.
Pence hit his tiebreaking double off Milwaukee starter Mike Fiers (5-9), who struck out five and gave up two runs in six-plus innings.
San Francisco scored three runs off reliever Will Smith to break it open.
“The one inning got away from us,” Fiers said. “Peavy pitched well. With our lineup, you expect to get runs, but he battled.”
Peavy gave up four hits and had three strikeouts over six innings but left without the decision. Peavy reached on a single in the third — San Francisco’s first hit of the game.
“He had really good stuff,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He kept it down, hit his spots. He’s been throwing the ball very well since he’s come back.”
Braun returned to the lineup after missing two days with tightness in his lower back. Braun went 0 for 4 while batting third.
Hector Sanchez was sore but fine after landing on a ball while sliding into home plate.
Joe Panik (back stiffness) was rested. Buster Posey was given the day off.
“They’ve been going hard since the All-Star break,” Bochy said. “I’m trying to keep these guys as fresh as I can.”
Madison Bumgarner (11-5) pitches the series opener in Texas on Friday night. He’ll be facing the Rangers for the first time since beating them in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series.