Eighth-inning rally pushes Giants past Brewers
Gaudin's effective start preserved by Lopez inducing key double play
SAN FRANCISCO -- Chad Gaudin couldn't sit still.
With Monday night's contest against the Milwaukee Brewers tied in the top of the seventh, Gaudin was pacing in the Giants' dugout. He had just exited the mound after leaving the bases loaded, watching as southpaw reliever Javier Lopez entered with one out.
Gaudin had already been bailed out by a double that bounced over the fence, but now he needed some help from his teammate. He got it in the best way possible, as Lopez was able to get pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks to ground into an inning-ending double play, a key turning point in the eventual 4-2 Giants victory.
"Javy saved us," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We needed some help and Javy's our guy we go to. He came through for us. You can't get a bigger double play, especially late in the ballgame like that."
Once the Giants escaped the frame unscathed, Gaudin hopped about the dugout and pumped his fist. The 4-6-3 double play, turned quickly by Marco Scutaro and Brandon Crawford, resulted in a close call at first base, but Weeks was called out as Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke argued with first-base umpire Bill Welke to no avail.
"You can't put it on the umpires," Weeks said. "They're in the moment. He didn't mean to miss the call. You have to live with it, but it kind of stinks when the game is in their hands like that."
The Giants later benefitted from a broken-bat bloop hit in the eighth, when Jeff Francoeur's pinch-hit RBI single plated Hunter Pence with the go-ahead run. Francoeur admitted it's been tough to adjust to life as a pinch-hitter on cold San Francisco nights, but chuckled that his soft hit resulted in an RBI.
"That's baseball, man," Francoeur said. "That's the fun part."
The Giants went on to add two more runs thanks to a fielding error by Brewers third baseman Jeff Bianchi, which proved to be the difference after Juan Francisco hit a solo shot to left in the top of the ninth off Sergio Romo.
The bounces didn't go the Brewers' way Monday night.
For Milwaukee, the biggest and baddest bounce of the evening came just two batters before Lopez recorded the crucial double play. Francisco belted a ringing shot to the right-center-field gap, but it hopped off the warning track and into the stands for an automatic double. The hit scored Jonathan Lucroy from second base to tie the game at 1, but Caleb Gindl was forced to stay at third, where he would be stranded for the remainder of the inning.
Initially, Gaudin wasn't breathing easy on the mound when he saw the ball bounce into the stands.
"No, forget the sigh of relief. I thought he was going to catch it," Gaudin said. "But hindsight, looking back, yeah."
With the help of some timely defensive plays by catcher Buster Posey, Gaudin faced the minimum 12 batters through the first four frames. Both a first-inning single by Jean Segura and a third-inning triple by Scooter Gennett were wiped out on the basepaths by Posey's arm, while Gaudin did the rest.
He cruised until the rocky seventh inning, but still finished 6 1/3 innings, allowing an earned run on four hits and four walks while striking out eight. In the process, he lowered his ERA to 2.56, the best mark for any Giants pitcher in the current rotation.
"He's just been so consistent, both in the 'pen and starting," Bochy said. "He's so valuable on this ballclub. We needed a starter and he's stepped in and he's thrown the ball as well as anybody."
Francoeur's hit that scored Pence from third base capped off an eventful trip around the basepaths for the Giants outfielder. He reached on a walk, advanced to second on a stolen base and then to third on a wild pitch by John Axford, who sent one to the backstop on the final pitch of a Pablo Sandoval intentional walk.
There was discussion of Pence batting leadoff in a revamped Giants lineup before Monday's game, but he proved to be effective out of the No. 3 hole, walking a season-high three times (he walked three times in all of July) while stealing two bases.
Instead of Pence, Bochy inserted Scutaro atop the lineup to try to revive an offense whose leadoff hitters have been struggling mightily as of late. Though Scutaro went 0-for-5 on Monday, Bochy said the plan is to stick with the veteran second baseman at the top of the order for the time being.
"We didn't get going until the last inning," Bochy said, "but it's a lineup that we're going to look at for a while."