Tony AvelarBrandon Belt

Giants look to future after May to remember

You don't have to check the standings to know that the Giants, owners of a 21-9 record in May, enjoyed the best month in the National League.

Just listen to the fans at AT&T Park. They're a crowd that doesn't stop cheering from pregame introductions to the final out. They're watching a team that has barged back into the playoff chase again.

“It was a good month,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The guys played great. Hopefully, we can carry that momentum into June.”

It wasn't a particularly good ninth inning on Sunday, however, when the Atlanta Braves scored four times to bail out a 7-5 victory. The normally reliable defense opened the floodgates, as Brandon Crawford mishandled a potential double-play grounder that would have ended the game.

Still, back-to-back losses weren't enough to spoil what the team had accomplished in recent weeks.

The Giants wobbled badly in the opening month of the season, and their 8-13 record reflected as much. Now, as the calendar flips to June, the Giants (30-22) are just half a game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, the West Division leaders.

“You look at our April, we had our ups and downs,” Bochy said. “We got off to a bad start, but the guys came back and played well.”

The Giants' pitching staff deserves a ton of the credit for the turnaround. The group racked up eight complete games in May, three more than any other team in the big leagues.

The offense, which is back to full strength thanks to the return of Hunter Pence, has also been doing its part. It led the majors in batting average (.291) and on-base percentage (.348) in the month.

“We've been swinging the bats great for a while now,” Madison Bumgarner said. “The offense has been doing their job, for sure. I mean, everybody's been playing good.”

The team has been playing so well that there isn't even room for everyone at the inn. 2014 playoff hero Travis Ishikawa, who was recently designated for assignment, cleared waivers and has agreed to bide his time at Triple-A Sacramento. He'll be joined there by Kevin Frandsen, who previously spent parts of four seasons with the team.

An extra arm could also be on the way. Before the game, Bochy confirmed that Matt Cain, who hasn't pitched since spring training, will make a start at extended spring training in Arizona on Wednesday. The right-hander would then go out on a minor league rehab assignment and could be in the rotation before the All-Star break.

“I don't really pay attention to months, but that's great that we've been playing good for a while now,” Bumgarner said. “And we're going to work to continue that.”

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