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Solano's walk-off gives SF 7th straight win

@mi_guardado
August 26, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt put the Giants on his back, but it was Donnie Barrels who ultimately carried them over the finish line. Belt extended his on-base streak to 11 consecutive plate appearances with a game-tying home run off Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning, and Donovan Solano capped

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt put the Giants on his back, but it was Donnie Barrels who ultimately carried them over the finish line.

Belt extended his on-base streak to 11 consecutive plate appearances with a game-tying home run off Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning, and Donovan Solano capped the wild comeback with a two-run, walk-off shot to lift the Giants to a 10-8 win over the Dodgers in 11 innings in Tuesday night’s series opener at Oracle Park.

Box score

The Giants (15-16), who erased four deficits en route to their seventh consecutive win, are now only one game below .500 with less than a week to go until the Trade Deadline. It’s a stunning turnaround considering they were 8-16 following a brutal loss to the Angels on Aug. 17.

Their surge has caused their playoff odds to balloon from 3.3 percent to 39.7 percent, according to FanGraphs, potentially creating tough decisions for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi ahead of Monday’s Trade Deadline.

The Giants remain seven games behind the first-place Dodgers in the National League West, but they currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot and believe that they can continue to surprise in this expanded format. San Francisco evened its record to 4-4 against the Dodgers, who are 18-5 against everyone else.

“I think we make a pretty tough matchup for them,” Belt said. “I think we’ve got a good ball team, and we know when we play the Dodgers we’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game. We've done that quite a few times this year. We're not going to go away quietly.”

The red-hot Belt went 4-for-5 with two home runs and 5 RBIs, delivering a three-run shot off lefty Julio Urías in the first inning before his matchup with Jansen. San Francisco trailed, 6-5, entering the bottom of the ninth, but Belt tied the game by driving a 1-0 cutter from Jansen out to right-center field for his fifth home run of the year, sending the game into extra innings.

Belt became the first Giants hitter to reach base in 11 consecutive plate appearances since Barry Bonds in 2006. He is now 16-for-28 (.571) with four doubles, four homers, and 10 RBIs over his last nine games and attributed his torrid stretch to improved health. The 32-year-old first baseman underwent surgery on his right knee in 2018, but he didn’t feel like he recovered full strength in the joint until this year.

“I've been working hard, man," Belt said. "I've been putting in a lot of work to make sure I can get back on the field to be productive. The physical aspect has been missing the past year or year and a half or so. I feel like I'm back to where I want to be both mentally and physically."

The Giants and Dodgers traded runs in the 10th before Los Angeles pulled ahead once more in the 11th on an infield single by Justin Turner, who hit a jam shot to the right side of the infield. Tyler Rogers rushed off the mound and dove to corral the ball, but Turner managed to avoid his tag, knocking in Will Smith from third base.

Still, the Giants tied the game for the third consecutive inning on an RBI single by Evan Longoria. That brought up Belt, who went ahead in the count, 3-0, before Dodgers right-hander Dennis Santana struck him out to end his on-base streak. But Solano promptly ended the game by driving a hanging slider from Santana out to left field for his first career walk-off home run.

“It’s a great feeling to see all of your teammates greeting you after you hit a game-winning home run,” Solano said.

The Giants’ improbable rally allowed them to overcome an uncharacteristically shaky start from veteran Johnny Cueto, who allowed six runs over four-plus innings and dealt with communication issues with rookie catcher Joey Bart. San Francisco’s recent climb into playoff position could have implications for Cueto, who is one of the veterans who has been viewed as a potential trade chip this year.

Cueto is owed $21 million next year with a $5 million buyout option for 2022, so the Giants would likely have to pay down a significant portion of his contract to land a decent prospect in return. Still, if the Giants can sustain their momentum, Cueto could ultimately find himself pitching in the playoffs for San Francisco.

“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Cueto said. “Keep fighting and make it to the playoffs. That’s what we want.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.