SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants wanted innings-eaters this offseason. On Sunday that plan worked out well.
Johnny Cueto shook off a disastrous first inning to get through seven, somehow earning a win on a day he gave up five in the first and nearly hurt himself. The lineup roared back as Cueto found his form, clinching a 9-6 win over the Dodgers. The Giants took three of four in one of the craziest April series you’ll see.
All things considered, the Giants had to be thrilled to just be down 5-2 after an extremely long first inning. Cueto started off by plunking Chase Utley and giving up back-to-back singles, and he tweaked his right leg while backing up the plate on Justin Turner’s single to right. Cueto slipped in the mud and needed some time to recover, but he stayed in the game.
The only out through six batters was a sac fly, and Trayce Thompson broke the inning open with a two-run single to right that would have been a double-play ball had Brandon Belt not been shifted far over toward second. Austin Barnes bunted the next pitch on a squeeze attempt, getting an RBI and reaching first safely because Cueto was late covering the bag. Scott Kazmir put a bunt down and Matt Duffy couldn’t get back to third in time, possibly wiping out another double play.
When the top of the first was over the Dodgers had sent 10 to the plate and scored five times, but Cueto allowed just one more run. In the bottom of the inning, a red-hot lineup got to work. The Giants got two runs back on three singles and then tied the game in the third when Buster Posey and Brandon Belt went deep.
Bruce Bochy made a curious decision in the fifth, allowing Cueto to hit with two outs even though he was already at 84 pitches. Cueto grounded out but got through two more innings, and the Giants took the lead in the sixth on Joe Panik’s two-run double.
Starting pitching report: Cueto was charged with six earned on 10 hits. He walked two and struck out eight while throwing 104 pitches. All eight strikeouts came after the first inning, and in a span of just 16 batters.
Bullpen report: The future is coming fast in the bullpen. Josh Osich came on with one out and a runner on in the eighth and got two easy outs as Hunter Strickland warmed up.
At the plate: Every Giants starter has a homer through one week, and two of the four players on the bench — Ehire Adrianza and Trevor Brown — have gone deep. Even the Opening Day starter, Madison Bumgarner, has a blast.
In the field: Ahh, the shift. It cost Cueto in the first on Thompson’s single and again in the second when Adrian Gonzalez reached on an infield single. In the sixth Utley bounced one that was headed to center before Brandon Crawford — who was shifted far from his normal spot — scooped it up. It’s a tradeoff.
Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,656 people who came for the extremely ugly giveaway hats.
Up next: A day off! The Giants are back at it Tuesday in Denver, with Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy and Matt Cain pitching at Coors Field. Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Lyles and Jorge De La Rosa start for the Rockies.