SAN FRANCISCO – If you haven’t been paying attention -- and if you're sitting in the bleachers or the arcade, you should -- the Giants have a lot more power this season.
They used some of that punch – and got away with one illegal kick – to claim their 12th comeback victory of the season Thursday night.
Michael Morse hit a two-run home run when he turned around a 99-mph fastball from Nate Eovaldi in the third inning, and Buster Posey put the Giants ahead with a two-run, 410-foot double in the fifth as they took a 6-4 victory over the Miami Marlins at AT&T Park.
Posey’s double was the big hit in a controversial fifth inning when Hunter Pence clearly made contact with a chopper in fair territory as he ran down the first base line. But the umpires called it a foul ball, and it wasn’t reviewable according to baseball’s expanded replay rules.
Pence singled and scored on Posey’s double, which set up Matt Cain for a victory on a night he fell behind early.
It was Cain’s first win of the season, breaking a drought of 11 starts without a victory dating back to Aug. 17 of last season – coincidentally, when he won at Marlins Park.
Starting pitching report
It would have been hard to envision a standing ovation in the cards for Cain (1-3) after the Marlins tagged two home runs off him and took a 4-1 lead in the third inning.
Cain had trouble getting pitches inside to left-handed hitters, and it cost him a pair of souvenirs into the arcade in the first two innings. Derek Dietrich hit a solo shot that a fan in the arcade grabbed with one hand (while not spilling a drop of his beer in the other) in the first inning. Then Garrett Jones clanked a two-run shot off the arcade roof in the second inning to give Miami a 3-0 lead.
It marked the third start this season Cain has allowed multiple home runs. If there’s anything that bothers him more than gopherballs, it’s a leadoff walk coming around to score. Cain mixed in one of htose in the third inning, when Christian Yelich drew a free pass. He advanced on a ground out and Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who doesn’t issue many intentional walks, put Giancarlo Stanton on base.
The strategy half-backfired. Casey McGehee followed with a double down the left field line that skipped into the stands to make it 4-1. But Cain was able to strand two runners in scoring position when Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out and Reed Johnson flied out to right field.
Minimizing that inning to one run might have marked the turning point in the game. The Marlins didn’t score again off Cain, who pitched around third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s throwing error in the sixth and exited to sustained cheers following Reed Johnson’s two-out double in the eighth.
His line: 7 2/3 innings, four earned runs on six hits and three walks (one intentional), and seven strikeouts. He threw 107 pitches, 65 for strikes.
It marked just the eighth time in Cain’s 272 career starts that he gave up as many as four earned runs and still won. The previous time came almost one year ago to the day – May 16, 2013, when he spotted the Colorado Rockies a 6-0 lead at Coors Field and the Giants rallied to win.
Jeremy Affeldt stranded Cain’s runner in the eighth inning and Sergio Romo pitched the ninth to record his 14th save in 15 chances. Only the Brewers’ Francisco Rodriguez (with 16) has more.
At the plate
When the Giants won the World Series in 2012, they hit 31 home runs in 81 regular-season home games. They’ve already hit 18 in 19 home games this year.
And Morse, after hitting his 10th to grab the team lead, is on pace to hit 37 this season. Can’t remember the last time a Giant hit 30 home runs in a season? That’s because it’s been awhile: Barry Bonds in 2004.
The Giants might have their best fastball-hitting lineup since the 2002 World Series team. Eovaldi (2-2) provided some of the power with a 99 mph fastball in the third inning and Morse muscled it the rest of the way, finding the arcade with a two-run shot down the right field line.
Morse’s shot made it 4-3 and the Giants completed their comeback in the fifth. Angel Pagan drew a leadoff walk and Pence appeared to be out when he hit a chopper off the plate down the first base line and appeared to kick it in fair territory. But umpires ruled it a foul ball – and as Marlins manager Mike Redmond was told, fair/foul calls are only subject to replay review when they occur past the first base umpire’s position.
Replay, if it had been allowed, would have conclusively shown that Pence touched the ball in fair territory and would haven been ruled out. Instead, the at-bat continued, Pagan took off with the pitch, and Pence’s single shot the hole created through the right side.
Posey followed with a two-run double to the deepest part of the right-center gap, putting the Giants ahead. Morse’s single scored Posey and capped the three-run rally.
Pence has seven hits over his last two games. Tyler Colvin doubled twice and scored, too.
Bochy was confident that Morse, who broke into the majors as a shortstop (really, he did), would have soft hands while replacing solid defender Brandon Belt at first base.
The early returns are encouraging. Morse made a nice pick of Sandoval’s throw in the sixth inning.
The Giants announced 41,597 paid, and this must be one of those “sellout” sellouts. There were clumps of empty seats in the left field corner of the upper deck.
The Giants continue their four-game series with the Miami Marlins on Friday. Yusmeiro Petit (2-1, 4.85 ERA) makes a spot start in place of Tim Hudson, who has a strained left hip. He’ll oppose right-hander Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.33). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT.