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After 18 innings and five hours, Giants scratch across game-winner

The Giants handed the Rockies their eighth-straight loss Saturday afternoon on the back of a spirited performance from ace Madison Bumgarner and an offense that never let up on Colorado’s pitching, taking victory over the Rox 5-2.

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San Francisco executed a strategy of small-ball from start to finish Saturday, knocking in three of five runs on sac flies and pestering Kyle Freeland for three runs on nine hits.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at Oracle Park.

They had leadoff knocks in each of the first four innings and offered Bumgarner (W, 1-2, 3.12 ERA) the support he needed to post his first win since Sept. 15. 

It wasn’t until the third inning that one of those leadoff hits translated to runs, though. After Gerardo Parra, batting in the nine hole with Bumgarner on the mound, singled off of Freeland (L, 1-3, 5.40 ERA) Steven Duggar showed off his wheels, beating out an infield single for the second day in a row.

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The Giants (7-9) then executed the small-ball vital to their brand of baseball when Yangervis Solarte slapped a sac bunt down the first base line to move the runners over, and Kevin Pillar swatted a sac fly to deep center to get the Giants on the board 1-0. 

Buster Posey came up next with a line drive double down the right-field line to notch his first RBI of the season and pad the lead.

Manager Bruce Bochy was glad to see his lineup execute Saturday:

“We were sitting nice there with Solarte up and Pillar behind him and Buster–so it’s kind of a no brainer, let’s move ’em over and try to get an early lead, and Pillar did a great job with that sac fly. You have to play that game at times and hopefully you’re set up where you’re able to do that.”

San Francisco snapped the leadoff knock streak in the fifth, but with one out, Pillar launched his fourth dinger (4) out of the park in under a week to give the home team a 3-0 lead. 

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Bumgarner breezed through the first five innings against the Rockies (3-12) on just 56 pitches allowing just two hits and it looked like he could be in line for his first complete game since July 10, 2016, but he combined for 39 pitches through the sixth and seventh allowing two runs on three hits, including a Mark Reynolds homer (2) that put the Rockies within a run.

The big lefty went up with the plan of going a minimum of eight innings and manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner told him he was available to throw 140 pitches in light of the 18-inning early morning finish of Friday’s game that required every pitcher in San Francisco’s arsenal.

Bochy said that 140 pitches was never on the table, but Bumgarner was disappointed in himself for not making it through at least eight. He said:

“Regardless of anything else, you got to take care of the bullpen and, in my mind, get through eight. It worked out for us, we won the game, but that’s the one thing that I don’t feel great about. I gotta get at least one more out there and save those guys ’cause last night was tough on everybody.”

But when Chris Iannetta led off with a double to left in the eighth, Bochy called it a day for his ace, handing the ball to Reyes Moronta. Moronta was impervious to the inherited runner, though, and he struck out the first three Rockies he saw to shut down the threat.

Even with the lead in the eighth the Giants were not content to rest on their laurels Saturday and set to work immediately adding insurance runs against Seuhnghwan Oh. 

Pablo Sandoval struck out but took first on a wild pitch to start the rally, and a single from Joe Panik brought Brandon Belt to the plate. Belt was scratched from the starting lineup with a stiff neck but came on in a double-switch when Bumgarner was relieved. The at-bat didn’t turn out to be especially taxing as he took a four-pitch walk. 

Colorado skipper Bud Black had seen enough and sent Mike Dunn out to pick up the pieces, but Duggar and Parra hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to put the Giants ahead 5-2.

Sam Dyson (S, 1, 1.04 ERA) posted his first save of the season with a three-up-three-down ninth. 

Despite the three-game winning streak and a solid game start-to-finish, Bumgarner said he doesn’t focus on momentum because it can become a distraction:

“Momentum is a real thing for sure, but sometimes it gets going the opposite way and you can nip that pretty quick if you just keep worrying about the next pitch. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting or pitching, just worry about the next pitch. I know it’s a cliché, but for me, it seems like it works best if you do it that way because when the momentum is going in your favor, it’s a good thing, but when it’s not, it’s obviously not. So you just try to keep it as even-keeled and level-headed as you can to try to eliminate those things.”

Up Next

Derek Holland (1-1, 3.38 ERA) will toe the rubber against Rockies right-hander German Márquez (1-1, 3.00 ERA) in the series finale Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

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