MIAMI -- Hits didn't need to come in bunches for Brandon Crawford on Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park. All the San Francisco shortstop needed was one swing to make the difference, as his home run to lead off the fourth inning was enough for the Giants to edge the Marlins,
MIAMI -- Hits didn't need to come in bunches for Brandon Crawford on Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park. All the San Francisco shortstop needed was one swing to make the difference, as his home run to lead off the fourth inning was enough for the Giants to edge the Marlins, 1-0, and take two of three in the series.
Crawford was the hero in both wins for the Giants. On Monday, in an 8-7 win in 14 innings, he slapped out seven hits, but unlike Wednesday, none left the ballpark. Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija kept the Marlins under control, scattering three hits with three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. With Miami threatening with two on and two out in the sixth inning, left-hander Will Smith relieved Samardzija and struck out pinch-hitter Chris Johnson looking.
"Changeup," Crawford said of David Phelps' 3-2 pitch that landed in Miami's bullpen out in right. "They had been mixing [pitches] on me good the last couple days, so just kind of had to be ready for anything. Fortunately, I stayed through the changeup pretty nicely."
Miami right-hander Phelps, making his second start since joining the rotation after pitching in relief, threw five innings, allowing just the Crawford homer in the fourth. He exited after a season-high 91 pitches, retiring Buster Posey on a grounder to second with two on in the fifth.
"It's not a surprise that [Crawford] came in hitting like that into this series," Phelps said. "He's an All-Star-caliber player. He's got that flat swing. He stays in the zone a long time. I wasn't really commanding my fastball in there. If I was, it was probably where I would have gone at 3-2. I got a swing and miss early in the count with my changeup. I had a good feeling because it was feeling pretty good today. I got a handful of swings and misses on it."
The Marlins, 2-0 winners on Tuesday, closed out the series by going 17 straight innings without scoring. Santiago Casilla picked up his 26th save. With the Dodgers' loss to the Phillies, the Giants moved back into sole possession of first place in the National League West.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Crawfully good: After tying the NL record with seven hits on Monday, Crawford may have needed a hitless day Tuesday to recharge the batteries. Crawford added two more hits Wednesday and finished the series 9-for-16. His homer was his 11th of the season and boosted his season RBI total to 71, third most among Major League shortstops behind only the Rockies' Trevor Story (72) and the Astros' Carlos Correa (74).
"He had a great series. We needed a little shot in the arm and he gave it to us," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Good at-bat there to battle. Their guy threw well, too."
Shark bait: Although his outing was cut short in the sixth, Samardzija put together the bounce-back start he needed. The right-hander's scoreless outing was his first since shutting out the Tigers as a member of the White Sox on Sept. 21 last year. He had allowed at least one run in each of his previous 23 starts before Wednesday. Additionally, Samardzija was 1-4 with a 6.99 ERA over his past eight starts.
"The results haven't been there in the last few starts," Samardzija said. "You hate to say you're happy throwing the ball when it doesn't end well. But you have to look at it objectively and understand things don't go your way sometimes. I liked how I was throwing it. I just need to get back to the basics and get the ball down in the zone and get those ground balls like I'm used to. Those four-hoppers to Crawford, we'll take those all day long." More >
Out on the basepaths: The Marlins' coaching staff spends plenty of time preaching the importance of not giving up outs on the bases. A costly out came at second base in the second inning when Derek Dietrich tried stretching a single into a double, but was thrown out by Ángel Pagán. It turned out to be a significant play, because Miami was set up to have either first and third or second and third with no outs in a scoreless game. But with one out and a runner at third, Ichiro Suzuki bounced to second and J.T. Realmuto struck out, ending the only threat the Marlins had with a runner advancing as far as third base.
"We talked with Derek," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He's got to keep his head up. The hard turn, you like. You want him to see the play in front of him. Once it's in front of you, then you can back down."
Ichiro passes Clemente: The milestones keep coming for Ichiro. With his one-out single in the fifth inning, Ichiro moved up MLB's all-time hits ladder. The single was his 3,001st career hit, passing Roberto Clemente for 29th place. From this point forward, every Ichiro hit will have historical significance. Ichiro struck again in the ninth inning with a two-out double off Casilla, giving him 3,002 hits. Next on the list are Al Kaline (3,007) for 28th place and Wade Boggs (3,010) for 27th. More >
"I usually see [Samardzija] around BP. We only hit BP one time this series. It was funny facing him at the plate. Interesting, for sure. I had Eduardo Núñez as a teammate in New York. A lot of memories on that side, for sure."
-- Phelps, on facing Samardzija, his former Notre Dame teammate, and ex-Yankees mate, Nunez
"Phelpsy's a good dude. I only played with him for a year [at Notre Dame], but I played with his brother in High A for a season and in Double-A. So I probably know his brother a little bit better. Phelpsy's a good dude. He's got good stuff."
-- Samardzija, on his former college teammate, Phelps
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Dee Gordon stole second in the sixth inning, it was his 12th of the season. But in terms of the bigger picture, it was stolen base No. 200 in the Marlins second baseman's career.
Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing a called third strike with home-plate umpire Cory Blaser. Blaser rung up Johnson on an outside fastball from Smith to end the frame. After Johnson expressed dismay, Bonds exchanged words with Blaser from the dugout before continuing the argument behind home plate. It is Bonds' first ejection of the season and of his coaching career.
"[Bonds] didn't think it was a strike, I didn't think it was a strike," Johnson said. "That's the way baseball goes."
BOUR STILL HURTING
Justin Bour, who has been on the disabled list since July 6 with a high right ankle sprain, continues to experience discomfort in his foot. Mattingly said the left-handed-hitting first baseman isn't on the brink of returning.
"Not that close, it doesn't feel like," Mattingly said. "He continually has [discomfort]. At this point, it's went from the high ankle to some different areas, but it's really settled into more of his Achilles, it's been bothering him and he's having trouble moving. Until we can get that out of there, he's not an option right now."
Giants: San Francisco has an off-day Thursday, then heads back home for a three-game set with the Orioles beginning Friday at 7:15 p.m. PT at AT&T Park. Right-hander Matt Cain (4-6, 5.16 ERA) takes the mound. He's won his past three starts, the first time he's done so since May 2013.
Marlins: After a day off on Thursday, the Marlins open an Interleague Series with the White Sox on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Marlins Park. Andrew Cashner (4-8, 4.96 ERA) gets the start for Miami. On Monday, in the Marlins' 8-7 loss to the Giants in 14 innings, Cashner faced one batter in relief in the 14th. That didn't alter his scheduled start.
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.
Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami and covered the Giants on Wednesday.