SAN FRANCISCO – With the way their offense is sputtering, the Giants aren’t above accepting a little charity.
Three of their four runs Monday came as a result of Milwaukee Brewers errors, but who’s counting? The Giants opened a seven-game homestand with a 4-2 victory at AT&T Park, and they did it despite more dysfunctional behavior with the bat in their hands.
They were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. But they did just enough to take advantage of excellent pitching from Chad Gaudin and three relievers, then let the visiting team do the rest.
It was a 1-1 game when Hunter Pence led off the bottom of the eighth with one of three walks he had on the night. He immediately stole second (one of his two steals), then went to third when reliever John Axford uncorked a wild pitch on an intentional walk to Pablo Sandoval. Brandon Belt walked to load the bases with one out and pinch hitter Jeff Francoeur delivered a broken-bat go-ahead single to left field to put the Giants ahead. After Gregor Blanco popped out, pinch hitter Joaquin Arias hit a routine grounder that rolled under the glove of Brewers third baseman Jeff Bianchi for a two-run error and 4-1 San Francisco lead.
The Giants had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Milwaukee first baseman Juan Francisco threw wildly to second on a fielder’s choice grounder and allowed Belt to score.
Starting pitching report
More stellar work from Chad Gaudin, who went 6 1/3 innings and allowed four hits, struck out eight and allowed just one run despite walking four. The journeyman right-hander had to impress during spring training just to make the club as the long reliever. Now he’s an indispensable part of the rotation. In 10 starts, Gaudin is 5-1 with a 2.83 ERA (18 ER in 57 1/3 innings). His effort was needed Monday on a night the Giants just couldn’t generate anything against Milwaukee starter Tyler Thornburg. Gaudin had Brewers hitters chasing breaking pitchers in the dirt, then elevated his fastball and had them swinging through that. He’s allowed two runs or fewer in eight of his 10 starts.
Milwaukee had tied the game 1-1 in the seventh when Javier Lopez relieved Gaudin with the bases loaded and one out. The lefty came through, coaxing a 4-6-3 double-play grounder from pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks. It was a slowly hit ball to second baseman Marco Scutaro, and Weeks can fly. Replays showed Weeks might have beaten out the throw to first, but it was a huge play that allowed the Giants to escape a jam. Gaudin pumped his fist in celebration from the dugout. Santiago Casilla (5-2) and Sergio Romo closed it out, though Romo gave up a homer to Juan Francisco in the ninth.
At the plate
Manager Bruce Bochy batted Scutaro leadoff and Brandon Crawford second in an effort to spark the offense, but those two failed to get on base in nine combined plate appearances. Credit Pence for jump-starting things in unusual fashion. Batting third for just the second time this season, he walked three times and twice stole second base on the first pitch after he reached base. His stolen base in the eighth might have rattled Axford into the wild pitch that advanced Pence to third. Things unraveled for Milwaukee shortly after.
In the field
Bochy commended his team’s defense on the recent road trip, and the Giants came up big in that department Monday too. They might have gotten lucky with the call at first on the seventh-inning double play, but bottom line, shortstop Brandon Crawford made it possible with a lightning-quick turn off Marco Scutaro’s feed. Buster Posey aided Gaudin’s cause in the first by erasing Jean Segura, who tried stealing second after his one-out single, and Pence made a nice running catch to rob Norichika Aoki in the eighth.
Paid attendance was announced at 42,217. And despite all-day traffic nightmares in and around San Francisco, most seats indeed looked filled.
Matt Cain (7-6, 4.57) tries to build on his strong post-All Star break run. The right-hander has allowed just four earned runs over three starts (20 innings). But Milwaukee has not been one of his favorite opponents – he’s 3-6 with a 5.05 ERA in 10 career starts against the Brewers. He’ll oppose Wily Peralta (7-11, 4.57) in a 7:15 p.m. matchup.