SAN FRANCISCO — Everything about the fourth inning Saturday looked disastrous for Jake Peavy, starting with a throw Buster Posey made back to the mound.
Peavy was looking at the third base ump to argue a call as Posey returned a pitch, and the catcher and hitter Jake Lamb both moved forward, bracing for impact. But the ball bounced gently off Peavy’s left shoulder, dropping perfectly into his glove. Posey and Lamb started laughing as a stunned Peavy looked back.
“I knew that happened, but I got so hot over the checked swing,” Peavy said later, shaking his head. “It wasn’t comical in the moment. It is funny to look back at now that the win is in books.”
In that moment, a win was far from a sure thing. But Peavy somehow worked his way through a string of four straight hits, giving up just two runs, and the bullpen held tough when asked to pick up 4 2/3 innings. Six relievers combined to give up just one hit as the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 4-2, improving to 30-15 against the NL West this season.
“The trust (in the bullpen) has got to be there, and (manager Bruce Bochy) knows that as well as we do,” left-hander Javier Lopez said. “It’s an easy thing to pick on the ‘pen — we know that. We’re not immune to criticism. But it’s also a challenge to get better … To make this a bullpen game was a big deal, and I know a lot of the guys are happy with the way it turned out.”
The relievers are eager to prove that they’re a group that should be kept intact. Most improvement will have to come from within, and the Giants got two reinforcements in recent days. Sergio Romo has been dominant since coming off the DL and Albert Suarez showed intriguing flashes while pitching the seventh inning of a two-run game Saturday.
“I’m trying to really mix it up to give these guys a break occasionally,” Bochy said. “That’s also a credit to how well Suarez is throwing the ball. You get him in the mix. I’m going to take a look at it. I think we’ll have an order here soon.”
Bochy tends to let starters get through the fifth inning to qualify for a win, and he has relied even more on his rotation over the last month. But he felt he had no choice Saturday with Peavy approaching the end of the line, removing him in the fifth. Lopez entered and got Lamb to hit a grounder up the middle. He let it go, thinking Brandon Crawford would turn two, but the shortstop was shifted and had to make an athletic play to get an out at first.
“I take full blame, but also, I’m trying to pump him up and make sure he continues to make Gold Glove plays,” Lopez said, smiling.
The Giants would still get out of that jam, and George Kontos got the ball to Suarez, who gave way to Josh Osich. Romo and Santiago Casilla clinched the final six outs, turning Grant Green’s earlier homer into a game-winner.
Green grew up in Orange County but said that he's actually a lifelong Giants fan. Green’s father was born in the Bay Area and raised his son to root for the Giants and 49ers, and both Green parents made the trip up this weekend to get their first look at Grant playing for the Giants. On their second day here, Grant hit a two-run shot in the fourth to give his dad’s favorite team a lead that would hold up. The former A’s first-round pick is batting .300 since getting called up.
“I’m loving it, I’m loving getting a chance to play,” he said. “That’s all I ever asked for. It sucks that Joe (Panik) got hurt, and you never want that. But I’m enjoying the playing time.”
Green has taken advantage of a long look, and Ruben Tejada — another injury replacement — joined him in making a good impression. His double added an insurance run, although the bullpen wouldn’t need it on this day.
The relievers made sure that everything that happened on an odd day at the park ended up being laughed at.
Two players got hit by balls and two tripped, including Lopez, who fell going up the dugout steps. Naturally, he returned to the clubhouse to find a text from Jeremy Affeldt.
“He sent me the video,” Lopez said. “I told him, ’At least I didn’t get hurt.’”
Peavy survived his strange moment, too. He was able to enjoy it later, and Posey couldn’t contain his laughter as he watched a video of the ball sailing at Peavy.
“Right into the glove — I definitely wasn’t trying to do that,” Posey said. “It doesn’t look real. It just doesn’t look real.”