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Realmuto's homer lifts Marlins over Giants

April 24, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday's eighth inning was a study in contrasts as Miami's J.T. Realmuto punctuated a 4-for-4 afternoon with a tiebreaking home run and San Francisco loaded the bases with nobody out yet did not score. The Marlins held on for a 5-4 triumph that denied the Giants a

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday's eighth inning was a study in contrasts as Miami's J.T. Realmuto punctuated a 4-for-4 afternoon with a tiebreaking home run and San Francisco loaded the bases with nobody out yet did not score. The Marlins held on for a 5-4 triumph that denied the Giants a sweep of the three-game series.
Realmuto, who began the game batting .188 (9-for-48), victimized Giants reliever Josh Osich by delivering his first homer of the season to shatter a 4-4 deadlock.
"I got to a 2-0 count," Realmuto said. "I was feeling pretty confident from the previous three at-bats. So I took a shot. It felt like a good swing, but I fouled it off. Then when we got to 2-1, I tried to shorten up and stay up the middle and was able to get a pitch I could drive."
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The Giants rallied in their half of the eighth against reliever David Phelps, who sandwiched walks to Brandon Crawford and pinch-hitter Denard Span around Gregor Blanco's single. Phelps then coaxed Angel Pagan's comebacker and turned it into a home-to-first double play.
"A ground ball anywhere else ties the game," Phelps said.
The right-hander ended the threat by slipping a called third strike past Joe Panik.

"We had the right guys up, too," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

This was a tug-of-war disguised as a ballgame, as the teams endured three tie scores in the first six innings. Miami was led by Giancarlo Stanton, who homered in the fourth inning, and Dee Gordon, who singled twice and scored both times. For the Giants, Hunter Pence smacked a fourth-inning homer, Blanco drove in a run and scored another, and pinch-hitter Brandon Belt contributed an RBI single to a two-run sixth inning that erased Miami's 4-2 edge.
• Giants putting faith in young relief corps
Realmuto's big blast: Realmuto made his first home run of the season count. The blast to left field with one out in the eighth inning gave the Marlins a 5-4 lead. Realmuto had been in an 0-for-12 slump, but responded with a four-hit afternoon. He was 0-for-15 at AT&T Park prior to Sunday.

"It's huge for the team to kind of get on a roll like that," Realmuto said. "Everybody that's played the game of baseball knows that hitting is extremely contagious. It starts from the top all the way down to the bottom. Today we kind of showed that. We finally started to get the sticks going. A few guys have been struggling."
Missed chances: The Giants went 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position and finished 13-for-39 in those situations during the series. On the other hand, grounding into three double plays -- including the one in the eighth inning -- negated all that promising offense. The Giants stranded 11 baserunners, including seven in scoring position.
"This is a game that we should have put away," Panik said. "We had our opportunities. We didn't get it done."

"You get the ball coming back to you, and your eyes get kind of big," Phelps said of the eighth-inning double play. "As soon as that happens, then you realize you've got a good chance of getting out of it."
Stanton snaps back: Stanton had been in an 0-for-8 rut with four strikeouts in the first two games of the series. The Miami slugger got his swing back in the series finale, logging his first three-hit game of the season. In batting practice Sunday, Stanton launched a ball well over the wall in left, and it bounced into the parking lot. Stanton homered in the fourth, a drive that according to Statcast™ traveled 406 feet from home plate, with an exit velocity of 108 mph. Stanton also drew a walk.

"Anyone can have a day," Stanton said. "I'm talking in terms of me. We played great team ball today. You've got to put it together a few times in a row if you want to talk about a relief just yet."
Cain ends jinx, sort of: Entering Sunday with 11 runs allowed -- all in the fifth inning -- Giants starter Matt Cain began the fifth this time locked in a 2-2 tie. He surrendered one run but managed to finish the inning, which he didn't do in his previous two starts. Cain ultimately lasted 5 2/3 innings, yielding four runs and 10 hits.
"Now, when he gets in that 70-, 80-pitch [area], he's going to have good command," Bochy said. "... It was encouraging. He battled well. He got over that hump; that should do a lot for him."
Cain ended the first inning by fanning the dangerous slugger Stanton with a high 92 mph fastball. The right-hander resembled the Cain of old at that moment. But Cain downplayed the confrontation's significance.
"There are certain guys you want to go in on and certain guys you don't. With a lot of them, it's almost worse to stay away," Cain said.
"That was a good one. We got a couple of guys going. Adam [Conley] was pretty good, but didn't have his really good stuff. As the game went on he kind of labored a little bit more. But J.T. was really good today. Giancarlo was good. [Marcell] Ozuna had two walks and two hits and probably the most patience we've seen him have, and just guys getting some big outs at the end." -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly
Gordon had gone five games without stealing a base, so he was a bit antsy after he singled with one out in the third inning. With Ozuna at the plate, Gordon swiped second and third. In 2015, Gordon stole second and third five times in the same inning.

The Giants challenged a fourth-inning ruling in which Crawford was called out at first base on a drag-bunt attempt. The decision was confirmed by a video review.

Marlins: The Marlins open a four-game series at Dodger Stadium beginning Monday. It will mark the return to Los Angeles for Miami manager Don Mattingly. Lefty Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 4.91) goes for Miami against right-hander Ross Stripling (0-0, 2.65) in the 10:10 p.m. ET contest.
Giants: San Francisco completes its first look at National League West foes by starting a three-game series against San Diego with a 7:15 p.m. PT encounter Monday. The Giants have won four of the last five season series against the Padres and finished 7-2 against them last year at AT&T Park.
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.