SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants hammered one of the game’s most expensive pitchers Friday night, then held on when their own big-money right-hander couldn’t keep the party going.
Max Scherzer and Matt Cain gave up 11 combined runs at AT&T Park, but the Giants got the better end of the offensive explosion, beating the Nationals 8-5 to win for the third time in four games on this tough homestand.
Scherzer had his worst start as a $200-million man, giving up a season-high six earned runs in a season-low three innings. Most the damage came in the second, when the Giants matched a San Francisco-era franchise record with four doubles.
Cain had given up a run in the first, only to be put back in a tie on Matt Duffy’s 10th homer. Brandon Crawford led off the second with a double and scored when Justin Maxwell took one the other way and tickled the chalk down the right-field line. After Ehire Adrianza was hit by a pitch, Gregor Blanco hit a two-run double that gave the Giants a 4-1 lead. Duffy’s double added another run.
Hunter Pence took Scherzer deep in the third, and the Nationals’ ace would be pulled after the inning. The start was Scherzer’s shortest since 2012. At the time, this looked like a laugher — but Cain would fall apart in the fifth.
Danny Espinosa took him the other way for a lead-off homer and Jeremy Affeldt ran down to the bullpen when the next two runners reached. Cain got two outs and Bochy let him face Bryce Harper. It was a huge mistake. The MVP favorite got a fastball down the middle and blasted it to right, cutting three runs off the lead with his 30th homer.
Blanco got a run back in the sixth, doubling and stealing second and then racing home on Brandon Belt’s grounder to first. He got in safely with a nifty headfirst slide.
Starting pitching report: Cain has lasted jut 19 2/3 innings in his past four starts, giving up 18 earned runs. The Giants may have an interesting decision to make next week. Mike Leake returns on Tuesday and Ryan Vogelsong has looked sharper than Cain the last couple weeks.
Bullpen report: Josh Osich entered with one down in the seventh and got Harper to fly out on a 97 mph first-pitch fastball. Then he struck out Ryan Zimmerman on three pitches. He’s going to be a big part of future bullpens.
At the plate: Blanco is hitting .381 in 16 starts in the leadoff spot, with 15 runs scored.
In the field: In other Blanco news, Blanco made a spectacular diving catch on Yunel Escobar’s flare to shallow center in the third inning. He should probably be out there every night going forward, even when this team is healthy.
Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,675 human beings who didn’t have enough juice to get Taylor Swift tickets.
Up next: Jake Peavy (2-5, 3.75) puts his hot streak up against Gio Gonzalez (9-4, 3.50).