Each of the San Francisco Giants’ five previous meetings with the Milwaukee Brewers this season was decided by three runs or fewer.
On Sunday afternoon, the teams appeared to be headed for yet another tightly-contested late inning grinder, tied 2-2 after six innings. Then, the Milwaukee bullpen collapsed and San Francisco exploded for six runs in the seventh, putting the game out of reach of the National League home run leaders.
The Giants (43-49) went on to win the game 8-3 and while they have now won eight of their last 10, they may have lost one of their most productive bats as of late. With a Colorado doubleheader on tap for Monday, third baseman Evan Longoria went down with left foot discomfort — reported to be plantar fasciitis — and was removed in the fifth inning.
Longoria — who had gone 1-for-2 on the day before being lifted — was hitting .375 with six homers since June 30, and now may miss a twin bill against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Even without him, though, San Francisco was able to take care of business against the homer-happy Brewers.
Right-hander Tyler Beede helped plenty, giving the Giants just what they needed after two taxing bullpen days and with the doubleheader looming. Beede allowed three earned runs over 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven. The start was Beede’s second straight without giving up a walk, after having walked at least one in nine previous starts.
In the first, with Lorenzo Cain on second after a single and stolen base, Beede nearly had Christian Yelich rung up, but a potential strike-three swing was ruled a foul tip into the dirt, and Yelich stung a single into right on the next pitch to put runners on first and third with no outs. A would-be sacrifice fly from Yasmani Grandal was misread by Kevin Pillar, allowing Cain to score, but Pillar threw Yelich out at second for the force.
The Giants returned the favor in the second when Brandon Crawford led off with a walk then advanced to third on a Mike Yastrzemski grounder that trickled past first baseman Eric Thames — Milwaukee’s third error in two days. Donovan Solano drove in Crawford on a game-tying sac fly.
The inning ended abruptly when Beede ambushed a high fastball from Jhoulys Chacin and sent a single to the left field wall. Third base coach Ron Wotus tried to wave Yastrzemski in from first, but a good relay throw from Orlando Arcia to Grandal cut him down at the plate.
Brandon Belt — who has struggled mightily in the past month with his OPS falling 80 points from .850 to .772 — was due up next.
Belt, who had been a surprising absence from the Giants’ July home run barrage — they lead the majors in July homers with 18 — responded with a solo blast in the fifth, his first since June 27, to give San Francisco a 2-1 lead.
Belt said that he hopes the home run will get him going and be the start of a hot streak.
“You get rewarded for hitting the ball well,” Belt said. “So it’s nice to see that go over the fence and hopefully we can get something started.”
Longoria left the game later in the inning, and Austin Slater, who was scheduled not to play because of an illness, came in to play third.
Meanwhile, Beede cruised into the sixth inning having not allowed a hit since the first, a stretch the included retiring nine straight. Beede’s only baserunner from the second to the fifth was a hit batsman. But Yelich, the reigning National League MVP and a leading candidate to repeat this season — broke the scoreless streak in the sixth, mashing his 32nd home run off the overhang in right-center.
Beede recovered well, getting Grandal to ground out to second and striking out the next two batters, but the damage had been done and the Giants entered the seventh tied 2-2.
Still, the Giants appreciated the effort from Beede and stressed his importance in the victory.
“He clutched up in a huge way,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “We had some guys that needed a break and he was going to be out there even if things weren’t going that well. We needed length. He did a great job on both sides of the ball.”
For his steady pitching, the Giants offense rewarded Beede by blowing up the Brewers bullpen with six runs in the seventh.
Beede helped his own cause, starting the rally with a butcher boy RBI single up the middle to cash in a Solano leadoff double.
“I think he [Bochy] has a little bit of confidence in me at the plate,” said Beede on his two-hit game and first career RBI. “Obviously as a starting pitcher there’s some areas in your game where you want to be strong that you don’t think about. I’m glad that he trusts me at the dish a little bit.”
San Francisco tallied four more hits and two walks against relievers Corbin Burnes and Matt Albers to take an 8-2 lead, batting around as Solano recorded both a single and a double.
Once Beede left with two outs in the seventh, the duo of Derek Holland (1 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 K) and Mark Melancon (1 1/3 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 K) shut the door on Milwaukee and sent the Giants into Denver with a fresh bullpen for their next two games. Holland has pitched well in his last eight outings, allowing only five hits, four walks and one earned run over 11 innings.
After the win and the recent run by the Giants, the team feels good heading into Colorado.
“I think we’ve got a ton of confidence right now,” Belt said. “That’s huge for us. Something we definitely lacked earlier on in the season. But we’ve gotten going here lately and we’re hoping to keep the momentum going into Colorado.”
The Giants head into the doubleheader against the Rockies having lost 19 of their last 22 at Coors Field. They’ll send out Jeff Samardzija (6-7, 4.01 ERA) for the morning game against German Marquez (8-4, 4.45 ERA) and Dereck Rodriguez (3-5, 5.27 ERA) for the nightcap.