OAKLAND — Following Chris Heston’s first win in two months, the San Francisco Giants enter the final week of the regular season with a slight chance to reach the playoffs.
Heston gave up four runs and six hits over five-plus innings Sunday in a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics.
The defending World Series champion Giants (81-74) closed within six games of the NL-West Dodgers (87-68) with seven games left. The rivals open a four-game series Monday night in San Francisco, where Los Angeles is 0-6 this season.
“I wish we were in a little better position, but the standings are what they are,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ll go in and try to win a game. Whatever happens, happens.”
Heston (12-10), who pitched a no-hitter at the New York Mets on June 9, had been 0-5 with a 4.90 ERA in nine starts since beating Milwaukee on July 27. He retired his first 10 batters Sunday, then allowed Oakland to load the bases when Mark Canha doubled, Josh Reddick walked and Danny Valencia was hit by a pitch. Stephen Vogt then grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.
“It felt great. It’s been a while,” Heston said. “I feel like I am right where I want to be. I was in the zone better today and got some ground balls.”
Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth for his 37th save in 42 chances and 10th in a row.
A day after hitting three home runs, rookie Jarrett Parker had a pair of singles and a walk for the Giants, who built a five-run lead. Trevor Brown drove in two runs.
Sean Nolin (1-2), in his fifth start with the A’s, gave up five runs – three earned – and seven hits in a season-low 2 1-3 innings.
“We got behind big today. Our fans tried to pick us up and carry us through,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It would have been nice to win the series here, definitely, to end the season for them. Because they came out really enthusiastic for us. It’s disappointing we couldn’t get one more win out of it.”
Brown, Angel Pagan and Kelby Tomlinson drove in runs to give the Giants a 3-0 lead in the second. Mac Williamson and Brown had RBIs in the third for a 5-0 advantage.
Billy Burns hit a two-run double in the fifth, and Max Muncy tripled in a run and scored on Vogt’s single in the sixth.
George Kontos replaced Heston following Muncy’s triple and allowed his 12th inherited runner of his last 27 to score. None of his first 26 came across the plate.
THE BIG THREE
The A’s honored LHPs Mark Mulder and Barry Zito and RHP Tim Hudson in a pregame ceremony, when the trio threw out simultaneous ceremonial first pitches. The three went a combined 275-144 (.656) for the A’s between 1999-2006. They were teammates 2000-04 and went to the postseason four times together. Each recorded a 20-win season for the A’s. Hudson and Zito also pitched for the Giants, combining to go 80-101. Each won a World Series ring with the Giants.
Giants: RHP Tim Hudson will likely get one more start this season. His lack of location Saturday had nothing to do with previous injuries. … The Giants are ending the season without 10 players from their opening-day roster, and that does not include OF Hunter Pence, who started the year on the DL, or C Andrew Susac, who had worked his way into the backup spot during the season.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray is unlikely make another start this season due to hip soreness. A’s manager Bob Melvin said a decision will be made Monday. … C Bryan Anderson is expected to make at least one start in the Angels series. … INF Danny Valencia left following the fourth inning after getting hit on the left elbow by a Heston pitch.
Giants: RHP Jake Peavy (7-6) starts Monday night in the series opener against the visiting Dodgers. Peavy pitched six scoreless innings in his last outing and is 14-3 with a 2.42 ERA in 28 starts against the Dodgers. “I’m excited my team has a chance to be in the playoffs still,” Peavy said. “These are fun times when you have everything riding on it.”