Giants rally to back Bumgarner's impressive outing
Blanco's two-run triple in the seventh lifts San Francisco to series win
SAN FRANCISCO -- For a little while, it looked like Jesus Guzman would get the last laugh. In the end, the satisfaction belonged to Gregor Blanco.
Guzman, a former Giant, blasted a go-ahead home run for the second time in as many games in the seventh inning Wednesday, but the Giants rallied for three runs in the bottom half of the frame to win, 4-2.
Blanco was given the afternoon off until Giants manager Bruce Bochy called on him in the seventh with runners on first and third with one out and the Giants down a run. He punched a slider from Luke Gregerson to right-center field and it nearly lifted over the wall, but it fell on the warning track as two runs scored easily and he cruised into third base.
"It's not easy to come off the bench," said Blanco, who has two extra-base hits and five RBIs in six pinch-hitting opportunities in 2013.
After the Giants' offense laid dormant most of the afternoon, it rallied in the seventh for five consecutive hits, with Blanco's triple the most notable. Gregerson, who has been a linchpin in manager Bud Black's bullpen this season, was pounded for four hits to the four hitters he faced and was charged with two runs in the inning.
For Blanco, his performance has evolved from being strictly a speedy outfielder to one whom the Giants have relied on to drive runs home more often.
"I guess that comes from hitting sixth and seventh," said Blanco, who is now hitting .286 with 25 RBIs and is on pace to shatter his career-best of 38 RBIs. "Every time I see guys on base, I say, 'You're the guy to bring them in.'"
It wasn't until Padres starter Eric Stults was lifted that the offense exploded. He lasted 6 1/3 innings and left having allowed just one run, but was charged with another after departing. Stults has now tossed five consecutive quality starts, a streak during which he has not yielded more than two earned runs.
"Their guy was pitching great and we battled through," Bochy said. "He was mixing speeds well."
Tempers flared in the top of the second when Giants starter Madison Bumgarner threw a pitch -- the first of the at-bat -- behind Guzman. Both benches cleared and there was some pushing and shoving, but no ejections were made.
The near-plunking wasn't unexpected after Guzman watched his 400-foot, go-ahead home run travel over the fence in Tuesday's game. After crushing Jeremy Affeldt's 3-1 fastball, Guzman stared at it while walking toward first base and turned to his dugout to yell before rounding the bases.
In his first start at AT&T Park since May 22, Bumgarner allowed only three hits, but two of them were costly.
In the top of third, Will Venable crushed a hanging slider over the right-field wall. The blast was a no-doubter, as Hunter Pence simply turned around and watched the ball fly over the wall. Guzman's home run in the seventh temporarily gave the Padres a 2-1 lead; in both games, the Giants rallied the half-inning after Guzman's home runs.
"We don't," Blanco said when asked if the Giants get motivated from Guzman's home runs. "The way we play the game is we don't worry about what other guys do. [Guzman] did great and it was our job to get back in the game and win it."
Bumgarner allowed just the two runs in seven innings, as a strong mix of fastballs and breaking pitches led the way in his seventh win of the season.
"I felt pretty good about [the start]," Bumgarner said. "I didn't leave many balls over the middle of the plate.
"The [home run pitches] obviously were not ideal, but it seems like mistakes I made they put good wood on it. They're hot right now and a scrappy ballclub."
The two home runs were the most Bumgarner has yielded in a game this season.
With the Marlins coming to San Francisco for a four-game weekend series, the Giants have won consecutive games to avoid falling to .500 on the season. They remain 1 1/2 games behind Arizona for the National League West lead with injured players expected to return in the coming days.
While their returns should give the Giants a lift, it's players like Blanco who have kept the team in the thick of the division race amidst the maladies.
"Gregor has really played well," Bochy said. "He's really come through in the clutch -- which he did today -- whether he's starting or coming off the bench and he's a nice weapon.
"He's having a real nice season and is just getting better and better in his overall play."