A night after the bullpen undid a string of Giants homers, Hunter Pence hit a ball hard enough to put the game out of reach.
Pence’s three-run laser to left in the top of the eighth inning broke a tie and led the Giants to an 8-3 win over the Atlanta Braves. The right fielder made sure Jake Peavy’s strong performance didn’t go to waste. Peavy, in his sixth start back from the DL, gave up just one run over six innings.
The Giants went up 1-0 in the first on Buster Posey’s sacrifice fly. The Braves tied it up two innings later when Pence came up just short on a diving attempt in right field. Daniel Castro raced around from second to tie the game.
A mental blunder from first baseman Chris Johnson helped the go-ahead run score in the top of the sixth inning. The Giants loaded the bases ahead of Pence, who hit a rocket of a grounder to first. Instead of throwing home or going to second for a potential double play, Johnson jogged to first and got just the one out, allowing a run to score. It became clear right away that Johnson had lost track of outs.
Peavy took care of the rest, striking out the side in the fourth and cruising through the sixth. He threw a season-high 106 pitches and posted his fifth quality start in six appearances since returning from the disabled list. Again, however, the bullpen faltered.
George Kontos was the first man up and the usually reliable righty gave up the tying run. Jeremy Affeldt entered with runners on the corners and one out, and a slow grounder to second brought the lead run across.
The lineup stormed right back, getting back-to-back doubles from Gregor Blanco and Matt Duffy and then the game-breaking homer from Pence. The blast was his seventh of the season and fifth since coming off the disabled list for the second time.
Nori Aoki added a solo homer in the ninth and Posey drove in his 75th run.
Starting pitching report: Peavy has made 20 regular-season starts with the Giants, posting a 2.76 ERA in 124 innings.
Bullpen report: Sergio Romo was perfect after coming on for Affeldt in the eighth. Romo has had trouble with lefties this year, and that may keep him from closing, but he may be next in line if Santiago Casilla falters again.
At the plate: Pence is slugging .509 in a season marred by injuries. It’s his highest slugging percentage since 2007, his first season in the big leagues.
In the field: Eury Perez went all-out for Ehire Adrianza’s liner, and he thought he made a great catch. He did not make a great catch.
Nice try ... pic.twitter.com/9xGEFCQWpk— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) August 5, 2015
Up next: Madison Bumgarner faces Williams Perez, who fared well against the Giants earlier this season. Perez threw seven shutout innings at AT&T Park in May but has a 5.03 ERA since then.