ST. PETERSBURG -- Jaff Decker backed up to the right-field wall like he had a chance to catch the ball that was crushed off Joe Panik's bat. The Giants had struggled to find a big hit most of the day. But they got a two-out hit to tie it in
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jaff Decker backed up to the right-field wall like he had a chance to catch the ball that was crushed off Joe Panik's bat. The Giants had struggled to find a big hit most of the day. But they got a two-out hit to tie it in the eighth and won their seventh straight game on Panik's three-run homer in the ninth in a 6-4 win over the Rays.
"For Panik," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before pausing, "it's hard to get a bigger hit than that."
The Rays hardly put the Giants on their toes with baserunners, doing their damage with four solo homers. San Francisco finally got the hit it needed in the eighth when Brandon Crawford split the right-center gap to bring in Buster Posey with two outs off Rays reliever Erasmo Ramirez.
"I was waiting for his slider," Panik said of Rays closer Alex Colome, who had not given up a run in 19 straight appearances dating back to May 1. "That's his out pitch, that's his go-to pitch. ... I was waiting for it in that at-bat. I put a good swing on it."
• Colome, Erasmo have rare rough day
That spoiled it for Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore, who allowed two runs but labored through his six-plus innings. He worked through a big jam in the fourth inning when Corey Dickerson and Mikie Mahtook let an easy fly ball drop between them. The Giants had two on and no outs, but couldn't score. The next inning, Moore escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam.
"Matt was good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We didn't help him one inning with miscommunication on a fly ball. He pitched out of it really well. Then he put himself in a jam the following inning, but found a way to get out of it with only giving up one."
Crawford's tying single got Albert Suarez off the hook. The righty, who spent his first seven professional seasons in the Rays' organization, gave up three home runs in 4 2/3 innings. In the ninth, the Rays' only fight was a two-out homer from Logan Forsythe. Fill-in Giants closer Cory Gearrin retired the other three batters he faced, picking up the save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
I get knocked down: Panik was able to deliver the game-winning homer in the ninth despite being hit in the head by a pitch four innings later. The HBP by Moore with the bases loaded drove in a run in the fifth, and after being checked on by Giants trainers, Panik took his base and stayed in.
"I'd like to thank my father for giving me a thick skull," Panik quipped. More >
First-pitch success:Evan Longoria's first-inning solo home run came on the first pitch of the at-bat against Suarez. In the fourth inning, Logan Morrison matched the effort, taking the first pitch of the inning from Suarez over the wall in left-center.
"I liked the way the guys swung the bat," Cash said. "Just wish a couple of those homers would've had some guys on base."
Moore gets tough: Some miscommunication between Mahtook and Dickerson led to a single by Posey to give the Giants runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the fourth inning. But Moore recovered and struck out Matt Duffy, Crawford and Angel Pagan in succession to end the threat.
Scratch and claw: The Rays had let the Giants have their chances with runners on the basepaths. San Francisco was 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position before Crawford delivered his two-out, game-tying single with Posey on second in the eighth.
"We've got 25 guys, and we believe each one of them is important to this team," Panik said. "I think that's why you see multiple guys have success in different games."
"It felt good. Obviously, when I was playing for them, I never thought I was gonna pitch against them. Baseball, it changes. So I got a chance to do it today, it feels good." -- Suarez, on pitching in the Rays' home ballpark. He was a part of their organization from 2008-14
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
In 27 Major League innings, Suarez hadn't given up a single home run. In his first four innings on Saturday, he gave up three -- to Longoria, Brad Miller and Morrison.
"They were aggressive, trying to jump on the fastball," Suarez said. "They took advantage of it. They knew I am a fastball pitcher."
Giants: Right-hander Jake Peavy (3-6, 5.83 ERA) will start for the Giants on Sunday after pushing his start back a day due to neck stiffness. His 10:10 a.m. PT start against the Rays will be against a team he was familiar with during his stretch as an American League pitcher from 2009-14.
Rays: Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 3.79 ERA) will make his first career start against the Giants in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. ET finale. He is 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 13 career Interleague starts.
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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.
Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Rays on Saturday.