SAN FRANCISCO -- Nick Hundley sensed his chance to be a hero Monday night well before his two-out, pinch-hit single drove in the tying and winning runs for the Giants in their 6-5 victory over the Padres.Hundley began loosening up during the top of the ninth inning for his climactic
SAN FRANCISCO -- Nick Hundley sensed his chance to be a hero Monday night well before his two-out, pinch-hit single drove in the tying and winning runs for the Giants in their 6-5 victory over the Padres.
Hundley began loosening up during the top of the ninth inning for his climactic plate appearance, retiring to the Giants' indoor batting cage to take some hacks.
"Doing some quick University of Arizona math on my part," Hundley said, citing his collegiate alma mater, "I knew that I'd be coming up with two outs and the bases loaded."
One thing led to another, and that indeed happened. Batting for right-hander Pierce Johnson, Hundley sharply grounded a 1-0 delivery from Padres closer Brad Hand into left-center field. Buster Posey and Evan Longoria raced home and the Giants celebrated their eighth triumph in 11 games as if it were a postseason contest.
Hundley credited the extended at-bats that preceded his for helping him prepare for what he might see from Hand and for tiring the reliever somewhat. After Hand hit pinch-hitter Austin Slater with a pitch to open the ninth, Gorkys Hernandez worked the count full before striking out. Andrew McCutchen also fanned, but Posey drew a walk resulting from a 10-pitch confrontation.
"That was a terrific at-bat," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was a long at-bat, so it took a lot out of the pitcher."
Brandon Belt walked to load the bases and set up Hundley's seventh career game-ending hit.
"It's nice to get in a situation in front of you where everybody else was grinding out at-bats and not giving up," Hundley said.
The decision lifted the Giants over .500 (15-14) for the first time since the end of the 2016 season.
"A win in April counts the same as in September," Hundley said. "We're not looking at the standings. We're worried about piling up wins."
Earlier, chances for a Giants victory appeared bleak. San Francisco jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Hernandez, McCutchen and Posey banged out consecutive hits to galvanize the offense. Meanwhile, starter Jeff Samardzija blanked San Diego for three innings and showed hints of his best form.
Then came a near-complete reversal as the Giants stopped hitting and, for that matter, ceased doing much else. Samardzija vanished after five innings but bequeathed a 3-2 lead to the bullpen.
In came Reyes Moronta, the rookie who entered the game with a .111 opponents' batting average. Typically dominant, Moronta walked the first batter he faced, Jose Pirela. After Freddy Galvis singled, third baseman Longoria mishandled Manuel Margot's grounder for an error, allowing Pirela to score. A.J. Ellis added a sacrifice fly before Chase Headley stroked an RBI single.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Of course, Hundley's hit meant everything to the Giants. But it also spared Bochy from some difficult decision-making. Intending to rest some relievers who were taxed during the weekend series against the Dodgers, Bochy would have had few alternatives left. He said he might have considered using Belt, an accomplished high school pitcher, on the mound had extra innings ensued.
In several ways, this was a night of firsts and rarities. Johnson recorded his first Major League victory. McCutchen recorded his first triple since June 11, 2017, against Miami while with Pittsburgh. And Longoria committed multiple errors in a game for just the sixth time in his career and for the first time since Sept. 27, 2013, at Toronto with Tampa Bay.
Giants rookie Andrew Suarez will receive his second career big league start in Tuesday's 7:15 p.m. PT encounter against the Padres and right-hander Tyson Ross. Suarez showed promise in his April 11 Major League debut against Arizona, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings but striking out seven while walking none.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.