PITTSBURGH -- Throughout the game, the Giants produced long, loud outs, hard-hit balls that led to nothing. So it was somewhat ironic, and a great relief to the Giants, that Nick Hundley's fly ball off reliever Richard Rodriguez in the sixth inning turned into a game-breaking home run that barely
PITTSBURGH -- Throughout the game, the Giants produced long, loud outs, hard-hit balls that led to nothing. So it was somewhat ironic, and a great relief to the Giants, that Nick Hundley's fly ball off reliever Richard Rodriguez in the sixth inning turned into a game-breaking home run that barely made the left-field seats, fair by only a few feet.
The blast, measured at 338-feet, capped a five-run inning -- ignited by Gorkys Hernandez's lead-off homer -- that helped the Giants beat the Pirates, 5-0, at PNC Park on Sunday and head home with a much needed ego boost after ending a six-game losing streak.
"We hit probably nine, 10 balls right on the screws that their outfielders made plays on, so it was nice to get a couple over the wall and open up the game a little bit," said Hundley, the Giants' back-up catcher who was giving starter Buster Posey a rest.
Hundley said he was grateful to get a mistake slider from the hard-throwing Rodriguez, a pitch that makes it mandatory to do "damage."
He did just enough. Hundley said he was confident the ball would stay fair. "I just didn't know if it would be caught or not," he said.
Just as encouraging for San Francisco was the work of starter Derek Holland, who pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings and gave up four hits. He walked five, one intentionally, and struck out seven. The win snapped a streak of nine road losses for Holland going back to last May 21 when he pitched for Seattle. The outing also was his longest since then.
Relievers Reyes Moronta, Will Smith and Hunter Strickland preserved the shutout.
A journeyman left-hander who lugged a 1-4 record and 5.66 ERA into the game, the 31-year-old Holland gave up a lead-off double in the second inning, a one-out double in the third and a two-out double in the fifth. He began the fourth with none out and two on. He escaped each time.
"That's what it's all about," Holland said. "Any time these guys get on base you've to to keep the damage down. I give credit to [Hundley] for really pushing me. 'Hey, let's get this guy, let's focus on this one, try to get the double play.' I thought we did a good job of that today."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, the Rangers' hitting coach in 2010 when Holland was a youngster trying to find himself, said, "You've got to tip your hat to Derek Holland ... He's a completely different pitcher. He beat us with the kitchen sink. Any pitch, any time."
Right-hander Ivan Nova, the Bucs' starter, matched Holland's zeros until Hernandez, starting in center field for a resting Austin Jackson, unloaded on a 1-0 fastball leading off the sixth for his second homer of the season to put the Giants up, 1-0.
They weren't finished. Brandon Belt singled, and after Evan Longoria struck out, Pablo Sandoval ripped an infield single off first baseman Josh Bell's glove. That put runners on first and second for Brandon Crawford, who singled in his first two at-bats. Crawford doubled to right-center field, scoring Belt to make it 2-0.
That was it for Nova. Rodriguez came in and Hundley came up with Gregor Blanco -- running for Sandoval -- on third and Crawford on second. He swung at Rodriguez's first pitch and the ball eased up and away. Unlike the solid outs off Giants' bats, no one caught it.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was asked if he thought "it was a matter of time" before those hard-hit outs would become hits.
"Well, you'd like to think so," he said. "You're hoping it's not one of those games where, oh no, you're having buzzard luck. We did make some hard outs. We had some really good at-bats and finally broke through."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Holland consistently worked out of trouble, but his biggest jam might have been in the fourth inning of a scoreless game. David Freese led off with a single and Sean Rodriguez walked. Jordy Mercer, a dangerous No. 8 hitter, came up. Holland got him to ground sharply to Longoria at third, starting a double play and the next hitter, Nova, flied out.
"The main thing was [Hundley] continued to keep pushing me," Holland said. "I didn't make the right pitches when I needed to, and it put me in that little hole. I had to continue to keep fighting, and I thought that was the best part about Hundley, keeping me focused, keeping me right where I needed to be. We made a big pitch right there, got the double play, and went after the next guy.
HE SAID IT
"He had all his pitches. A better breaking ball, I thought. It was sharp, located well, he used his changeup, worked the fastball on both sides [of the plate]. Really did a nice job out there. We needed that in the worst way. I said it would take a really good pitching effort to get us out of this. Give him credit. He took over and did a great job." -- Bochy, on Holland's outstanding performance that helped end the club's six-game losing streak
The Giants return to AT&T Park on Monday for a seven-game homestand starting with three games against the Reds. Right-hander Chris Stratton (3-3, 4.60), coming off a loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday (4 2/3 IP, 5 ER) has yielded four home runs in his last three starts after allowing none in his first six. Righty Sal Romano (3-3, 3.83) gets the start for Cincinnati at 7:15 p.m. PT.
Bob Cohn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.