Giants claim road series with balanced effort
Gaudin fitting into rotation; Perez dazzles in big league debut
PHOENIX -- Chad Gaudin felt sick to his stomach. Juan Perez's insides were going topsy-turvy with nerves. But the Giants sustained as healthy a performance as they've delivered all season, completing a successful weekend here.
The Giants subdued the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-2, and captured two of three games from the National League West leaders. After arriving here with a 10-18 road record, San Francisco won its first series away from home since they recorded a three-game sweep here April 29-May 1.
The reigning World Series champions provided a reminder that winning on the road requires nothing more than a solid, thorough effort. Of course, that isn't always possible, as the Giants also have proven with their uneven execution. This past week, for example, their faulty starting pitching gained a semblance of consistency. But the Giants nullified that by scoring eight runs in six games from June 1 through Friday. They posted a 2-4 record in that stretch. "All facets got away from us," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Then came Saturday and Sunday, when San Francisco outscored the D-backs 16-7 and outhit them 27-14. Maintaining this pace through the rest of this three-city trip will be challenging, as the Giants must face formidable Pittsburgh and NL East-leading Atlanta. At least the Giants know what will be required of them as they cross the country.
"We need to pick it up in our overall play," Bochy said. "This is what it's going to take."
"This" was balance. For the second straight game, every position player except one hit safely. The pitching remained effective. And the defense, paced by center fielder Perez, was a force.
Making his Major League debut, Perez immediately created the impression that this would be a Giants afternoon by making a remarkable running catch of Paul Goldschmidt's first-inning drive. Perez dashed into right-center field, outran the ball to make a leaping grab about two steps in front of the wall, then collided with the padded barrier. Perez, who reported soreness in the ribs of his left side after the game, rolled over on his back as he recovered from having the wind knocked out of him briefly. He quickly rose to his feet and returned to a dugout full of appreciative teammates.
"When I was running, I felt the warning track and I knew I was close to the wall. That's why I jumped," said Perez, who contributed his first big league hit and RBI in the third inning. "When I saw it off the bat and that it was in the ballpark, I [knew] I had a chance to catch it."
Said Bochy, "I didn't think he had a chance at that ball. I was just hoping it wouldn't go out."
Nearly an hour after the game ended, left fielder Andres Torres was still exultant. "That was a really good catch. Wow," Torres said.
Perez, 26, said that his pregame excitement became a more ominous sensation when he batted in the first inning with the bases loaded and one out. "A lot of butterflies were going through my system," said Perez, who fouled out.
But Perez received counseling from his more experienced teammates. "We told him, 'Just play the game. Have fun,'" Torres said. "Make the kid welcome, right? It's great."
San Francisco scored in four of the five innings worked by D-backs rookie left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-1), who allowed five runs and eight hits. The Giants belted multiple home runs in back-to-back games for the first time since May 12 and 14. Marco Scutaro dented the screen on the left-field foul pole with one out in the fourth inning before Brandon Belt cleared the right-field barrier an inning later. It was Belt's seventh homer, equaling his output for the entire 2012 season.
That gave Gaudin (2-1) ample support. The right-hander virtually duplicated the statistical line he built last Sunday at St. Louis, where he surrendered two runs and four hits while walking none and striking out five in six innings. This time, the converted reliever again lasted six innings, yielding two runs and five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. He even faltered at the same juncture, once more allowing all of his runs in the fourth inning.
Gaudin again displayed command, throwing 54 strikes in 84 pitches.
"It's letting the hitter know that you're not going to pitch around him," said the right-hander, who has cemented his status as the injured Ryan Vogelsong's replacement in the rotation. "It makes for a better game."
Gaudin remained effective despite dealing with an upset stomach. "This came on right at the start," he said. "I thought maybe it was nerves but it wasn't. It kind of lingered the whole game."
So did the Giants' efficiency.