The decision snapped the Giants' three-game losing streak, which seemed a lot longer. San Francisco endured yet another lopsided loss to the Reds in the opener of the doubleheader, 9-3, giving Cincinnati an aura of invincibility -- at least against San Francisco. The Reds outscored the reigning World Series champions, 34-6, while winning their first five meetings of the season.
But the Giants benefited from an early influx of offense and stubborn relief pitching to win the nightcap and make Bochy the 21st manager to win 1,500 games. Of that group, 12 are Hall of Famers.
"I'll be honest. I don't know what that number means, except that I've been fortunate that I've been doing this as long as I have," said Bochy, who broke in as a big league manager with San Diego in 1995. "I'm thankful and grateful."
The occasion prompted Giants players to express appreciation for Bochy, who owns a 1,500-1,498 lifetime mark.
"He's a very underrated manager, maybe because he's kind of a quiet guy," said left-hander Barry Zito, who offered his praise even after Bochy removed him one out shy of qualifying for the victory. "It's a special accomplishment. We're all very happy for him."
"It's an amazing accomplishment. Fifteen-hundred wins is hard to fathom," right fielder Hunter Pence said. "There are so many good things you can say about him. ... You have a lot of confidence in all of his moves."
Said right-hander Sergio Romo, "You have to respect everything he's done for this game. I have no room to complain or say anything negative about that man. He puts us in positions where he feels we can succeed."
Nothing Bochy tried in the first game worked. Performing almost a year to the day since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery last July 24, Giants starter Eric Surkamp retired the first four batters he faced in his first big league appearance since Sept. 28, 2011. Little went right for him afterward as he surrendered seven runs and nine hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Summoned from Triple-A Fresno solely to pitch this game, Surkamp allowed four second-inning runs, three of them courtesy of Devin Mesoraco's homer.
"I was leaving the ball over the middle of the plate," Surkamp said. "In the first inning, I was pretty much on the corners."
Cincinnati chased Surkamp during its three-run third inning, which began with Joey Votto's home run. One out later, five consecutive Reds reached base, including pitcher Tony Cingrani, who poked an opposite-field RBI single to left that finished Surkamp and sent him back to Fresno on a mission.
"I still have a lot of work to do," Surkamp said.
Having been dominated by the Reds, the Giants knew they faced plenty of work in the nightcap. Since it was the rescheduled game resulting from a July 4 postponement at Cincinnati, the Reds batted last and wore their alternate home uniforms, while San Francisco dressed in road grays.
By this juncture, the Giants would have donned clown suits if they believed that might help them prevail.
Pitching changes, not costume changes, ultimately made the difference for the Giants. Trailing the soaring Dodgers by 6 1/2 games, the Giants are desperate for wins. San Francisco reached the 100-game mark with a 46-54 record, nine games worse than it was at this point last year, when they led the Dodgers by a game. When a starter can't work deep into the game -- a predicament caused by Zito's 4 2/3-inning stint -- Bochy manages out by out, constantly switching relievers in search of a satisfactory matchup.
The strategy sustained the Giants in the nightcap. Cincinnati kept pressuring the Giants -- "Man, I just knew we were going to win that game," Reds manager Dusty Baker said -- but stranded 14 runners and went 1-for-14 with men in scoring position. Jake Dunning, Jose Mijares, Santiago Casilla (4-3), Javier Lopez and Romo left the bullpen to blank Cincinnati for 4 1/3 innings.
In just his second multiple-inning save of the year, Romo secured his 24th save in 27 chances while working 1 1/3 innings. He struck out every batter he retired to establish a career-high with four strikeouts.
Pablo Sandoval delivered a two-run, first-inning double and Brandon Crawford doubled and scored in the second inning to help the Giants grab a 4-0 lead. Then Corky Miller lashed a two-run double in Cincinnati's half of the second inning, setting up the taut affair.
Pence helped preserve the Giants' edge with a remarkable diving catch of Miller's drive to right-center field with Jack Hannahan on first base and nobody out. Pence atoned for an error he committed one inning earlier, when he misplayed Brandon Phillips' line drive. That put Reds on first and second with one out, but Zito escaped by striking out Jay Bruce and coaxing Todd Frazier's fielder's-choice grounder.
"I made such a terrible play earlier that I was hoping for an opportunity to do something good, because [Zito] picked me up," Pence said. "It felt good to be able to make that play for him."
The Giants felt pleased to defeat the Reds, period.
"They've beaten on us pretty good," Bochy said. "We've had a hard time scoring on them. It was a gutty effort by the whole club. They fought hard. It's a long day, getting beat up pretty good in the first game, and the way they bounced back, I'm proud of them."