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Cueto lowers ERA to 0.35 as Giants top Halos

Righty takes no-hit bid into sixth; Belt homers for fourth straight game
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- It took three-plus weeks, a determined outing from Johnny Cueto and an epic day from Brandon Belt, but the Giants finally won their first series this season.

Belt's historic 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning Sunday was the conversation piece, but his fifth-inning home run helped fuel a 4-2 victory over the Angels.

View Full Game Coverage

ANAHEIM -- It took three-plus weeks, a determined outing from Johnny Cueto and an epic day from Brandon Belt, but the Giants finally won their first series this season.

Belt's historic 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning Sunday was the conversation piece, but his fifth-inning home run helped fuel a 4-2 victory over the Angels.

View Full Game Coverage

Cueto contributed his fair share as well, holding the Angels to no runs on two hits after carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He lowered his ERA to 0.35 after four starts.

"It's great to get a series," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You hate to wait this long to get one, but on the road against a club that has really been playing well this year, Johnny came through for us. What a great effort he gave us and we hung on."

The Giants won two of the three games at Anaheim, in a rematch of the thrilling 2002 World Series won by the Angels.

Cueto, who missed a recent start with an ankle sprain, pitched through some discomfort, even getting a visit from the trainer at one point. He did not give up a base hit until Ian Kinsler singled to lead off the sixth inning.

He closed the sixth by loading the bases but getting Luis Valbuena to hit into a 3-6-1 double play to end the threat. Cueto did a spin and made a fist pump after recording the out at first base, which ended up being the final out of his outing.

"Based on the situation I had to celebrate it," Cueto said.

A day after striking out 17 times against the Angels, the Giants tagged 77 pitches on Angels starter Jaime Barria in two-plus innings, with 49 of those pitches coming in the first inning alone. Barria gave up two runs on five hits with a walk in his second career appearance.

Belt's 21-pitch at-bat, as the second batter of the game, took about 13 minutes and included 16 foul balls. It ended with him hitting a fly ball to right field. He saw 17 combined pitches in his next two at-bats, and he finished those with a single and his home run, respectively

Video: Must C Classic: Barria, Belt duel in 21-pitch at-bat

Belt ended the day with three hits and saw 40 pitches in his five plate appearances.

"I don't really remember [specifics], I just knew I was getting tired and I wanted to do something right there," Belt said. "I didn't want to give in. I put too much effort into that at-bat already. I wanted to get something to handle and he just kept making good pitches."

Buster Posey, who returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's game with back tightness, brought home the first Giants run in the third inning when he grounded into a double play. Evan Longoria added a two-run home run in the third, his fourth of the season.

Video: SF@LAA: Longoria launches two-run jack to left-center

Belt's towering home run in the fifth easily cleared the wall in right field and gave him four home runs in the past four games he has played. He did not play in Friday's game at Anaheim, which was also his 30th birthday.

Video: SF@LAA: Belt lifts a solo long ball to right field

The Angels closed the gap to 4-2 in the eighth inning on Mike Trout's third home in three games. Trout took over sole possession of the Major League lead in homers with nine.

Hunter Strickland gave up two hits, but pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his third save.

Video: SF@LAA: Strickland induces fly out, records the save

"It was a hard-fought game, but no question it's good to head home with a series under our belt," Bochy said.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cueto spun around like a top in celebration after working his way out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth inning. After loading the bases with one out, Cueto got Valbuena to hit a ground ball to Belt at first base. Belt started a nifty 3-6-1 double play, with Cueto combining a spin with a pump of his fist following the last out of his outing.

Video: SF@LAA: Cueto induces an around-the-horn double play

SOUND SMART
Cueto's 0.35 ERA is the lowest for a Giants pitcher after four starts since Ray Sadecki had a 0.25 mark in 1968. Cueto has given up one run over 26 innings so far this season, firing scoreless outings at the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and now the Angels.

HE SAID IT
"You have to give it to him. He kept on throwing strikes and didn't really hang anything except maybe a couple of pitches, but it was enough to throw me off and not get the barrel to the ball. It was a tough at-bat, but I was just trying to have a good at-bat up there, honestly." -- Belt, on facing Barria in their 21-pitch duel in the first inning 

UP NEXT
The Giants will try to carry some momentum into the upcoming homestand, facing the Nationals on Monday. Chris Stratton (1-1, 2.22 ERA) will take the mound with some momentum of his own as the Giants have gone 3-1 in his starts this season. The Nationals will counter with left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 2.49) in the 7:15 p.m. PT start.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants

Belt has longest at-bat that we've ever seen

21-pitch battle with Angels' Barria ends on flyout to right field
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Belt sent out an apology after the Giants' victory over the Angels on Sunday. He will no longer grow irritated when an opponent or teammate fouls off one pitch after another.

Belt owned the stage, as much for his historic 21-pitch at-bat during a 4-2 win over the Angels, as for hitting a home run in his fourth consecutive game played.

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ANAHEIM -- Brandon Belt sent out an apology after the Giants' victory over the Angels on Sunday. He will no longer grow irritated when an opponent or teammate fouls off one pitch after another.

Belt owned the stage, as much for his historic 21-pitch at-bat during a 4-2 win over the Angels, as for hitting a home run in his fourth consecutive game played.

View Full Game Coverage

Belt hit 16 foul balls in the first-inning plate appearance against Angels starter Jaime Barria that ended with a fly ball to right field. The 21 pitches in the at-bat, which lasted about 13 minutes, were the most on record (since 1988) for a single trip to the plate.

"When I'm in the field I hate it when a batter keeps fouling pitches off," Belt said, sheepishly. "I'm like 'Dude, just put it in play. It's not that hard. Let's go.' So I basically had to apologize to everybody after that."

Tweet from @MLB: Blackjack! Jaime Barria wins 21(!) pitch at bat with Brandon Belt. pic.twitter.com/6NhrlPaAQs

Belt had an eight-pitch at-bat in the third inning when he singled to right field and then crushed a deep home run to right in a nine-pitch at-bat in the fifth.

Giants starter Johnny Cueto said he went into the Giants' batting cage beneath the stands and threw a baseball against the netting during Belt's first-inning opus just to stay warm. The Giants saw 49 pitches in the first inning against Barria.

"It was a very good at-bat for him and it was good for him," Cueto said. "I was in the batting cage watching it. I tried to keep myself loose because I knew I had to go in and pitch."

Belt hit a home run at Arizona on Wednesday and another on Thursday against the D-backs. He did not play in Friday's game at Anaheim, which was his 30th birthday. Belt then hit a home run Saturday against the Angels and added another Sunday, his fifth of the season.

Video: SF@LAA: Belt lifts a solo long ball to right field

The last Giants player to hit a home run in four consecutive games played was Hunter Pence in 2013.

Belt's marathon first-inning at-bat bested the previous record of a 20-pitch duel between the Astros' Ricky Gutierrez and the Indians' Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998. That at-bat ended with a swinging strikeout for Colon.

Video: HOU@CLE: Colon K's Gutierrez in 20-pitch at-bat

"I've never seen anything like it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That was really amazing what happened there, on both sides, Belt and the pitcher to keep throwing strikes too and end up winning [the battle]. No question that played a part in his early exit because he had good stuff."

Barria ended up throwing 77 pitches in two-plus innings.

Barria was making his second appearance in the Majors, having been called up earlier in the day by the Angels to make the start against the Giants. His only other start came April 11 against the Texas Rangers, when he gave up one run over five innings and picked up the victory.

"I tried some changeups and used all my pitches, then finally with a fastball in I got him out," Barria said. "Yeah, there were some good pitches that I threw to him, especially with the curveball. But in the end, he kept making contact and fouling them off."

Video: SD@LAA: Belt records three hits, contests epic at-bat

Andrew McCutchen had a good view of the first-inning battle from the on-deck circle.

"I'm not sure [Belt] was locked in, but he was fighting; he was battling," McCutchen said. "I'm sure he felt he didn't have anything [Barria] could actually throw by him."

It didn't take McCutchen long to realize the challenge he had next.

"You don't want to be the next guy to just ground out on the first pitch after that," said McCutchen, who singled to left field on the sixth pitch of the at-bat following Belt.

Belt's stalemate helped to set a no-quit tone for the Giants, but in reality he was just trying to stay afloat up there in the first inning.

"I wasn't seeing his slider very well, at first," Belt said. "I was just trying to see the pitch as well as I could. Honestly, this is the brightest place we've played at and it was kind of tough to see a little bit, so I was just trying to do the best I could to see the ball and put the bat on it."

Video: CHC@LAD: Cora wins 18-pitch battle with a homer

Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who homered on the 18th pitch of an at-bat when he played for the Dodgers in May 2004, tweeted his appreciation for Belt's resilient approach.

Tweet from @ac13alex: 21 pitches?Good at bat.

Belt saw 40 pitches in five trips to the plate, but put the ball in play on the first pitch in each of his last two plate appearances. He had a first-pitch single in the seventh and a first-pitch flyout to left in the eighth.

"Maybe it was seeing pitches and tracking pitches that might get you locked in later on," Belt said. "My goal was to just have good at-bats out there and I was able to do that."

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Brandon Belt, Bartolo Colon

Posey back in lineup after sitting with stiff back

Speical to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Buster Posey's back stiffness did not keep him out for long as he returned to the Giants' lineup against the Angels on Sunday one day after he was a late scratch.

Posey even returned to catching after he was scheduled to be the designated hitter in an American League park Saturday. Pablo Sandoval, who replaced Posey at DH on Saturday, was again the Giants' DH on Sunday.

View Full Game Coverage

ANAHEIM -- Buster Posey's back stiffness did not keep him out for long as he returned to the Giants' lineup against the Angels on Sunday one day after he was a late scratch.

Posey even returned to catching after he was scheduled to be the designated hitter in an American League park Saturday. Pablo Sandoval, who replaced Posey at DH on Saturday, was again the Giants' DH on Sunday.

View Full Game Coverage

Posey has dealt with a couple of nagging injuries on the current road trip, missing a game April 15 at San Diego because of a sore thumb.

But the veteran refuses to be down for long, a trait that manager Bruce Bochy applauds for the leadership aspects it brings. Bochy knows, though, that there is a delicate balance that comes with playing through injuries.

"We were confident that he would be OK to go today," Bochy said. "If this was September, he could have pushed it [Saturday] night. But if he aggravates it, he's out for a few days."

Now in his 10th season, Posey knows the value of bouncing back as quickly as possible.

"It does send, I think, a great message any time a guy can bounce right back and get back in the lineup, even though he may not be 100 percent," Bochy said.

Now Posey will look to bounce back at the plate. He is just 3-for-29 (.111) on the trip through San Diego, Arizona and now Anaheim. The downturn began after he concluded the last homestand with six hits over three games against the Diamondbacks. He was 14-for-35 (.400) to start the season.

But his value to the club extends beyond what he can do at the plate. Giants pitchers have a collective 2.76 ERA in the 111 innings he has been behind the plate so far this year.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Buster Posey

Giants doomed by Halos' three homers in loss

Belt's homer not enough as long balls come back to haunt Holland
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- One last time through the heart of an Angels order that Derek Holland knows well proved to be a bit much Saturday night.

The Giants' starter gave up a two-run home run to Albert Pujols in the sixth inning and the Angels went on to a 4-3 victory in the middle game of an interleague series at Angel Stadium. The Giants won Friday night's series opener.

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ANAHEIM -- One last time through the heart of an Angels order that Derek Holland knows well proved to be a bit much Saturday night.

The Giants' starter gave up a two-run home run to Albert Pujols in the sixth inning and the Angels went on to a 4-3 victory in the middle game of an interleague series at Angel Stadium. The Giants won Friday night's series opener.

View Full Game Coverage

There is no team in the Majors that Holland has faced more than the Angels, thanks mostly to his eight seasons with the Rangers. Holland entered with 162 1/3 innings against the Angels, facing Pujols and Mike Trout often.

Both Pujols and Trout went deep against Holland, with Trout hitting a solo home run in the third inning. The Angels' Jefry Marte also hit a second-inning home run.

"That's a really good team and I personally feel they can be the team that wins the [AL] West," Holland said. "That's a strong lineup. They have to keep their pitching going. I thought today I matched up well with Garrett [Richards] and he kept them in the game, too. We went back and forth, and I thought it was a pretty good battle."

Video: SF@LAA: Holland strikes out Upton looking

Pujols' home run was not only his fifth career long ball against Holland, it was his 2,992nd career hit. Trout crushed his fourth career home run against Holland, as he appeared to hit a breaking ball off the top of the plate, sending the ball over the wall in left field.

Manager Bruce Bochy said he liked the groove Holland got into during the fourth and fifth innings, and was comfortable giving his starter a third chance at the Angels' sluggers.

"We've been using the 'pen quite a bit," Bochy said. "You want him out there that third time a lot of times, but sure, it didn't work out today. But these guys have been doing a pretty good job."

The Giants took an early lead on a two-run home run from Brandon Belt that came one day after his 30th birthday. The ball worked in and out of Trout's glove, as the Angels' center fielder tracked the drive to the wall but could not keep it in the field of play.

Video: SF@LAA: Belt hits a homer that just clears the wall

Holland (0-3) gave up four runs on five hits over six innings, as he remained winless with his new club. He had one walk and six strikeouts. He is now 10-9 in his career against the Angels.

After the game, Holland first took some time to send best wishes to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who had a brain hemorrhage on the White Sox's bench Friday night. Farquhar was stable but in critical condition in a Chicago hospital.

"I tried to write his name on the mound, but with the dirt, it wasn't very well seen," Holland said. "He's a great guy and it's extremely sad to see what happened. I'm praying for him and wishing him nothing but the best."

Holland insisted he was locked in for his duel with the Angels.

"At the end of the day you have to focus on what is going on now and that was not a factor at all in this game," Holland said. "I thought I did a good job for the most part. There were a couple of pitches that were mistakes. The pitch to Pujols, we could be sitting here saying something different if that ball is down."

Richards (3-0) struck out 11 in his six innings for the Angels. The right-hander gave up two runs on five hits and walked just one. Keynan Middleton worked a scoreless ninth inning for his fifth save.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the tying run at third base in the eighth inning and the go-ahead run at first, Giants reliever Sam Dyson made the pitch he was looking for against Pujols. The Angels star hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat and keep the game close. But the Angels closed out the victory in the ninth.

Video: SF@LAA: Longoria and Panik combine for a double play

SOUND SMART
Not only did two of the three Giants runs score via a home run Saturday, eight of the Giants' 10 runs in the series thus far have scored on long balls. It has been a theme all season as 34 of their 62 runs (55 percent) have crossed the plate as a result of home runs.

HE SAID IT
"You're always one pitch away from greatness and one pitch away from humility. Today, I got the humility." -- Holland, after three Angels home runs were his undoing in a game where he otherwise located his pitches well

UP NEXT
The Giants will send Johnny Cueto (1-0, 0.45 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the series finale at Anaheim. The right-hander will be making his second start since coming off the DL because of a left ankle sprain. He has given up just one earned run in 20 innings and leads the Majors in ERA. The Angels will counter with right-hander Jaime Barria (1-0, 0.45 ERA) in the 1:07 p.m. PT start.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants

Belt's 2-run homer nearly robbed by Trout

Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Belt will gladly take the home run he hit in the second inning of the Giants' 4-3 loss against the Angels on Saturday, even if he appeared to get a little help with the final few inches of his long drive.

Belt's blast to right-center field reached the top of the wall just as Angels center fielder Mike Trout arrived. Trout appeared to time his jump perfectly, but the ball squirted from his glove and hit the auxiliary scoreboard on the other side of the wall before bouncing back onto the field of play.

View Full Game Coverage

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Belt will gladly take the home run he hit in the second inning of the Giants' 4-3 loss against the Angels on Saturday, even if he appeared to get a little help with the final few inches of his long drive.

Belt's blast to right-center field reached the top of the wall just as Angels center fielder Mike Trout arrived. Trout appeared to time his jump perfectly, but the ball squirted from his glove and hit the auxiliary scoreboard on the other side of the wall before bouncing back onto the field of play.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's almost like when you watch [Trout] going back to the wall, you can see it happening too," Belt said of Trout's penchant for robing home runs. "I was fortunate right there."

Otherwise, offense was hard to come by for the Giants, who struck out 17 times Saturday, including 11 against Angels starter Garrett Richards. The 17 K's were the Giants' most in a nine-inning game since they struck out 18 times in a 1959 game against the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax.

In previous seasons, Belt's drive would have remained in play, but the Angels lowered the wall in right field from 18 feet to 8 feet.

"I had no idea [what happened]," Belt said. "I didn't even know it was a home run. I thought it was a double. I couldn't see."

Pablo Sandoval also didn't know it was a home run as he raced to the plate and appeared to avoid the tag of Angels catcher Rene Rivera, but it did not matter once second-base umpire Marty Foster ruled that Belt had homered.

Trout initially objected to the call on the field, apparently thinking he had prevented the ball from exiting the field of play, but the Angels elected to not utilize a replay.

Belt's fourth home run of the season came a day after his 30th birthday. Belt did not play in Friday's game.

The home run gave the Giants an early 2-0 lead, but the Angels hit three home runs of their in the victory. The Giants won the series opener, 8-1.

"It [stinks] to lose; I wish we could have come out on top, but we just have to put it behind us and come back [Sunday]," Belt said.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Brandon Belt

Lefty reliever Smith close to making return

Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Will Smith pitched one inning in relief for Triple-A Sacramento on Friday and could be a little more than a week away from his long-awaited return to the San Francisco Giants.

Friday's one-inning outing was Smith's second with Sacramento, after pitching twice with Class A San Jose. He has yet to allow a baserunner in two innings at Triple-A, striking out four of the six batters he has faced.

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ANAHEIM -- Will Smith pitched one inning in relief for Triple-A Sacramento on Friday and could be a little more than a week away from his long-awaited return to the San Francisco Giants.

Friday's one-inning outing was Smith's second with Sacramento, after pitching twice with Class A San Jose. He has yet to allow a baserunner in two innings at Triple-A, striking out four of the six batters he has faced.

View Full Game Coverage

Smith was acquired for the stretch run in 2016 to help bolster the bullpen, then underwent Tommy John surgery before the start of the 2017 season and has been out of action ever since.

"It was a good outing, I think [16] pitches [Friday] night," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Saturday's game against the Angels. "The velocity is there, the command is there. We just have to have him go back to back at some point here next week. Maybe even go two innings. He's knocking on the door right now."

May 1 continues to be the projection for Smith's return to San Francisco. The left-hander had a 2.95 ERA for the Giants in 26 appearances down the stretch in 2016, striking out 26 with nine walks.

Smith led the National League with 78 appearances in 2014 with the Milwaukee Brewers, and has a 3.13 career ERA as a reliever in 225 appearances. He arrived in the Majors as a starter for the Royals in 2012.

Smith is scheduled to work out with the Giants when the team returns home on Monday, then head out for what is expected to be his final few rehab appearances.

"It's going very well with him," Bochy said.

Melancon continues to make progress

Reliever Mark Melancon is scheduled to play catch next week when the Giants return home from the current road trip. The right-hander has been on the disabled list since the start of the season after having a stem-cell injection in his forearm in March.

Video: KC@SF: Melancon gets O'Hearn looking in the 7th

Melancon had forearm surgery in September of last year, going on the DL twice last season. He was 11-for-16 in save opportunities and posted a 4.50 ERA in 32 games in his first season with the Giants, after he signed a four-year, $62 million contract.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Will Smith

Giants erupt at plate as Samardzija wins debut

Six-run fifth provides all the offense righty would need in his first start of 2018
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- The Giants used a fresh face and a night with the designated hitter to get the kind of offense they have been yearning for in an 8-1 victory Friday over the Angels.

In his first game with the Giants this season, after replacing an injured Hunter Pence (thumb) on the roster, Mac Williamson blistered a two-run home run to get things rolling in a six-run fifth inning.

View Full Game Coverage

ANAHEIM -- The Giants used a fresh face and a night with the designated hitter to get the kind of offense they have been yearning for in an 8-1 victory Friday over the Angels.

In his first game with the Giants this season, after replacing an injured Hunter Pence (thumb) on the roster, Mac Williamson blistered a two-run home run to get things rolling in a six-run fifth inning.

View Full Game Coverage

Designated hitter Andrew McCutchen added a towering three-run home run later in the inning, making the Giants look nothing like the team that had scored one run or fewer in 10 of its first 18 games.

"When [Williamson] hit it, I knew it was out," manager Bruce Bochy said. "And good for Mac, first game back to do that. He has to be so high on confidence right now with the type of ball he has been playing down there in [Triple-A] Sacramento. And to come up here and hit a huge home run … we've been stuck on one run here, and he got us going there with a two-run shot."

Video: SF@LAA: Giants score six on two homers, single in 5th

The 10 games with one run or less was easily the most in baseball. The Tigers and Astros were next with six. The Giants' 51 runs entering the series were the fewest among all 30 clubs.

Williamson heard all the talk about potentially being an offensive savoir for the Giants. The trick to actually doing it, for one day anyway, was to avoid thinking about it as much as possible.

"I think it's having the experience of being up a little bit and kind of knowing how much adrenaline is going to play; there is no doubt about it," said Williamson, who has 92 games of big league experience over the previous three seasons. "I wanted to go out there and stay cool, calm and collected, and try not to be too tense and tight and get too big in my at-bats."

In his first start of the season, Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija was sharp, giving up just two hits over five innings while throwing 80 pitches. He did walk four batters. Samardzija started the season on the disabled list with a right pectoral strain.

It proved to be an ideal location for the veteran to launch into the season having posted a 2.87 ERA in two previous outings at Anaheim.

Video: SF@LAA: Samardzija whiffs Trout for first K of 2018

"I tried to stay within myself and not try to overthrow," Samardzija said. "I always enjoyed trying to do that sometimes to see how hard you can throw so it was different to go out there and hold yourself back a little bit, but I wanted to make sure I was on the edges [of the plate] if I knew I wasn't going to have my velocity."

The velocity was fine as the right-hander hit as high as 94 mph on the radar gun.

"But that's not enough," he said with a laugh.

The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Nick Hundley home run, his first of the year. Williamson added his first homer three innings later on a 3-1 sinker from Angels starter Andrew Heaney.

Video: Hundley's opposite-field smash

It was just the second left-handed pitcher the right-handed hitting Williamson had faced since the start of the season. He had just one at-bat against a lefty while at Triple-A Sacramento, before facing Heaney.

McCutchen's home run was his third of the season and broke things wide open, while knocking Heaney from the game. Heaney gave up seven runs on six hits with two walks in 4 1/3 innings, making his second start after opening the year on the DL with elbow inflammation.

Video: SF@LAA: McCutchen skies a three-run homer to left

The Giants entered Friday's game having lost five of their previous six, and seven of their previous nine on the road.

"Hundley's [home run] was awesome, but Mac's was really awesome, kind of what he did for the locker room and the dugout; it was loud," Samardzija said. "He hit it well, and obviously a home run with a runner on, and to make it 3-0 was huge."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sure, the Giants hit two home runs in the fifth inning and three in the game, but it was a pair of bunts that had Bochy talking about momentum. Not only did Gorkys Hernandez bunt for a single in the fifth, Kelby Tomlinson added his own one batter later. Bochy called the back-to-back bunt hits exciting and said it ignited the Giants to a bigger inning.

SOUND SMART
The eight runs the Giants scored Friday were not only the second most they scored in a game this season, the six they scored in the fifth inning were their most in a single frame since scoring seven in the sixth inning of a Sept. 30, 2016, game against the Dodgers. The Giants' 1.82 runs per game before the series started was the lowest in the Majors.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Williamson's no-doubt-about-it laser into the seats in right-center field had an exit velocity of 114.2 mph, with the home run traveling 434 feet. After hitting six home runs in 11 games at Triple-A Sacramento, Williamson added his first with the Giants in his second at-bat in the Majors this year.

Video: SF@LAA: Williamson rocks a two-run homer to right

HE SAID IT
"That's the game. It's nice to feel comfortable. Obviously the results matter, but if the process is clean you can take the result a little easier, whether it's a positive or a negative. But it's obviously nice to drop a couple of balls." -- Hundley, who had a home run among his two hits after a number of hard-hit balls this season went for outs

UP NEXT
Giants left-hander Derek Holland will take the mound Saturday evening against the Angels still in search of his first victory as a member of the Giants. After nine seasons in the American League, Holland knows the Angels well, going 10-8 against them with a 5.21 ERA in 28 appearances (25 starts). His 162 ⅓ innings pitched against the Angels are his most against any team in the Majors. The Angels will counter with right-hander Garrett Richards (2-0, 3.60 ERA) in the 6:07 p.m. PT start.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants

Williamson brings rebuilt swing to Giants

Outfielder takes injured Pence's spot on roster after sizzling start to Minors season
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Mac Williamson is happy to be out of the Pacific Coast League, where teams do devilish things like make you hit against position players.

The outfielder was called up to the Giants on Friday, replacing Hunter Pence, who went to the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right thumb. Williamson didn't take long to make his presence felt, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth against the Angels in the Giants' 8-1 win.

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ANAHEIM -- Mac Williamson is happy to be out of the Pacific Coast League, where teams do devilish things like make you hit against position players.

The outfielder was called up to the Giants on Friday, replacing Hunter Pence, who went to the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right thumb. Williamson didn't take long to make his presence felt, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth against the Angels in the Giants' 8-1 win.

View Full Game Coverage

Williamson's home run was a rocket. It left the bat at 114.2 mph, according to Statcast™, and traveled a projected 434 feet. That exit velocity made it the hardest home run hit by any Giants player since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015, surpassing a 113.5 mph Hunter Pence home run from July 21, 2015.

All the more impressive was that Williamson, a right-handed hitter, hit it to right field. His home run was tied for the third-hardest opposite-field homer by any MLB hitter since Statcast™ started tracking, behind only Giancarlo Stanton's 117.3 mph homer in Toronto on March 29 and Jorge Alfaro's 114.5 mph homer in Philadelphia on April 7.  

In the big leagues, Williamson anticipates a little more predictability. He went 0-for-2 while hitting against two different position players during a runway game against the Reno Aces.

Against everybody else? Williamson continued the production he started during his impressive spring by posting a 1.026 slugging percentage at Triple-A Sacramento, with a cartoon-like 1.626 OPS in 39 at-bats.

Of his 19 hits, nine went for extra bases, including six home runs. He had 19 RBIs and generally looked like the guy who was having fun with his retooled swing that he showed off in Arizona during the month of March.

Video: SF@LAD: Williamson crushes a two-run home run to left

"A lot of things went my way, I will say that," Williamson said from the visitors' clubhouse at Angel Stadium on Friday. "If I put a barrel on it, it seemed to find a hole or a gap. But I felt like I was hitting the ball well and getting the right pitches to hit. I was putting quality swings on pitches consistently."

Those swings will look awfully familiar to Southern California baseball fans. It bears a strong resemblance to the swing of the Dodgers' Justin Turner. Williamson rebuilt his swing with the help of private coach Doug Latta, who helped Turner revive a stalled-out career.

Turner's breakthrough with the Dodgers came in 2015, at age 30. In 2016, Turner finished ninth in the NL MVP voting. Last year, Turner was an NL All-Star for the first time.

Williamson has a jump on Turner in that he is 27 and finally ready to deliver on all that promise he had as a third-round pick by the Giants in 2012.

Video: SF@LAD: Williamson launches a solo homer in the 8th

Armed now with a leg kick and a level swing through the zone, Williamson's moment seemed to have arrived. The Giants could use an offensive boost, having scored an National League-worst 51 runs heading into the series opener against the Angels.

Williamson won't have any of this savior talk. He's busy enough making sure he can keep himself on track, much less putting a Major League club on his broad shoulders.

"I'm definitely not a savior," Williamson said. "If you look around this clubhouse, there are some extremely talented players. I'm just trying to fit in and help out where I can. I'm definitely not coming in here thinking that I'm going to be changing things, or anything like that. I'm just a young kid trying to help out.

"But I will say that hitting is contagious. When guys start swinging well, everybody is swinging well and everything starts falling."

Manager Bruce Bochy made no promises when it comes to Williamson's playing time, but seemed to suggest he will get more chances in left field beyond Friday's game.

"Mac was swinging the bat well so he's going to get at-bats out there," Bochy said.

Giants line up DH plan in Anaheim

Bochy might use three different designated hitters in the three interleague games against the Angels this weekend.

Andrew McCutchen was batting third in the designated-hitter spot Friday. Bochy said he plans to use Buster Posey in the DH role on Saturday. For Sunday's series finale, the manager said he has a few options, but did offer Pablo Sandoval as one of those options.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Mac Williamson

Giants place Pence on DL with sprained thumb

Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- The Giants will be without Hunter Pence for at least the next 10 days after placing the outfielder on the disabled list before Friday's game against the Angels with a right thumb sprain.

In his place, San Francisco recalled outfielder Mac Williamson from Triple-A Sacramento.

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ANAHEIM -- The Giants will be without Hunter Pence for at least the next 10 days after placing the outfielder on the disabled list before Friday's game against the Angels with a right thumb sprain.

In his place, San Francisco recalled outfielder Mac Williamson from Triple-A Sacramento.

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Pence hurt his thumb while diving to make a play on April 3, but he has played through the injury. He's hitting just .172 with one extra-base hit and three RBIs through 17 games this season.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy downplayed the severity of the injury, but offered no timetable for his outfielder's return.

"He needs a few days off and then we'll get him going again," Bochy said. "It's kind of been lingering, so we're going to give him some time off."

Pence hit 13 home runs last season and drove in 67 runs, his most since 2014 when he was an All-Star and finished 11th in NL MVP voting. But his .701 OPS in 2017 was the second worst of his career, and he opened this year with a .386 OPS, although in a small sample size (61 plate appearances).

While nobody was willing to directly correlate the nagging thumb injury with Pence's rough start, adding a hot bat in Williamson made sense with the Giants' offensive struggles.

Williamson, 27, joins the Giants for the first time in 2018 after a hot start to the year with Sacramento. He hit .487 (19-for-39) with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 11 games for the River Cats.

"Hopefully he'll be a shot in the arm for us," Bochy said.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Hunter Pence

Bochy reveals earliest Bumgarner could return

Lefty might be back in Giants' rotation by late May after suffering fractured hand
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

PHOENIX -- If all proceeds well for Madison Bumgarner, the Giants ace could be back in the club's rotation by late May.

That was the estimated time frame for Bumgarner's return as cited by manager Bruce Bochy after the left-hander had three pins removed from his fractured throwing hand Thursday. Bochy mentioned May 25 to reporters as a suggested date for when Bumgarner might be ready to pitch -- but it was not meant as a scheduled day for the hurler's comeback appearance.

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PHOENIX -- If all proceeds well for Madison Bumgarner, the Giants ace could be back in the club's rotation by late May.

That was the estimated time frame for Bumgarner's return as cited by manager Bruce Bochy after the left-hander had three pins removed from his fractured throwing hand Thursday. Bochy mentioned May 25 to reporters as a suggested date for when Bumgarner might be ready to pitch -- but it was not meant as a scheduled day for the hurler's comeback appearance.

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Bumgarner now will work his way toward having the productive season that appeared imminent for him until Kansas City's Whit Merrifield hit a line drive off his hand on March 23. Bumgarner had a 1.05 WHIP with 30 strikeouts and four walks in 21 Spring Training innings.

Bochy also told reporters that right-hander Mark Melancon, who's on the disabled list with a strained elbow flexor, should be able to begin playing catch in about a week.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Madison Bumgarner

Giants bats go cold in narrow loss to D-backs

Bochy says team plans to call up outfield prospect to inject life in offense
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

PHOENIX -- Discussing and dissecting a team's hitting problems is as old as baseball itself. But when a manager such as the Giants' Bruce Bochy cites a lack of offense as the primary flaw that separates his club from the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, attention must be paid.

Following Arizona's 3-1 victory Thursday night over the Giants, Bochy pointed to an extremely basic statistic -- batting average with runners in scoring position -- to illustrate the difference between the teams. The D-backs captured the series, winning twice in three games, They're 13-5, compared to the Giants' 7-11.

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PHOENIX -- Discussing and dissecting a team's hitting problems is as old as baseball itself. But when a manager such as the Giants' Bruce Bochy cites a lack of offense as the primary flaw that separates his club from the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, attention must be paid.

Following Arizona's 3-1 victory Thursday night over the Giants, Bochy pointed to an extremely basic statistic -- batting average with runners in scoring position -- to illustrate the difference between the teams. The D-backs captured the series, winning twice in three games, They're 13-5, compared to the Giants' 7-11.

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Yet Bochy believed that it wouldn't take much for San Francisco to close the gap. Upgrading their hitting with men on second base or beyond would be a start. Because, right now, the Giants rank last in the Major Leagues with a .154 batting average in those situations.

"That's not going to work," Bochy said. He also promised, "It will pick up, sooner or later."

Trying to accelerate this process, Bochy announced that outfielder Mac Williamson, who has remained one of baseball's hottest hitters since Spring Training, has left Triple-A Sacramento and will join the Giants in Anaheim on Friday. Specific terms of Williamson's promotion have yet to be finalized. But with left fielder Hunter Pence enduring a sore right wrist and batting .172, it's easy to envision Williamson replacing him.

Video: SF@ARI: Crawford makes smooth barehanded grab, throw

"Mostly he's coming up because he's been swinging the bat well. We hope he can be a shot in the arm for this offense," Bochy said of Williamson, who's batting .467 with six home runs, 16 RBIs and an otherworldly 1.626 OPS in 11 games. That followed a Spring Training performance in which Williamson hit .318 with four home runs, 14 RBIs and a 1.061 OPS.

Pence has been ailing since he made a diving attempt to catch a drive hit by Seattle's Robinson Cano in the April 3 home opener.

"It's going backwards. It's not getting better," Pence said.

Any surge in the Giants' offense probably will involve Brandon Belt. His second-inning homer accounted for the Giants' scoring. Belt batted with two outs in the ninth after Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey singled, but he fouled out to third base against D-backs closer Brad Boxberger.

The Giants wasted another respectable pitching performance, this one by Ty Blach (1-3). Blach worked six innings and allowed six hits, including David Peralta's third-inning RBI single and A.J. Pollock's sixth-inning homer. Ketel Marte contributed a seventh-inning homer off Giants reliever Reyes Moronta to help Arizona's cause.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
It's unfair to expect perfection from Giants pitchers while the team is stuck offensively. Nevertheless, the Giants appeared to be -- and indeed were -- finished competitively once Pollock connected for his sixth-inning homer. That scratched Blach from the list of pitchers to have logged at least 20 innings without allowing a homer. Giants starters Johnny Cueto and Chris Stratton remain on this list.

Video: SF@ARI: Pollock smashes a solo home run to left

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The trajectory and majesty of Belt's homer should have been impressive. And, in fact, it was his sixth-longest since Statcast™'s inception in 2015, traveling a projected 429 feet. Combined with his extra-inning, game-winning clout on Wednesday, Belt hit two homers in successive at-bats.

Video: SF@ARI: Belt launches a solo home run to right

UP NEXT
The Giants return to Interleague play Friday with the opener of a three-game series against the Angels. Freshly removed from the disabled list, Jeff Samardzija will try to avoid the injury bug (strained right pectoral) that forced to miss nearly a month of the season. He'll be opposed by left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants

Belt HRs again, a night after hitting his 100th