Giants' presidential visit helps motivate bullpen

Giants' presidential visit helps motivate bullpen

PHILADELPHIA -- Executive action didn't directly pull the Giants' bullpen from the doldrums. But it may have helped to some degree.

After recording an uncharacteristic 6.11 ERA (12 runs in 17 2/3 innings) in San Francisco's previous five games, the Giants' bullpen delivered the redemptive performance it needed in Friday night's 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hunter Strickland, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla combined to allow one hit in three innings to preserve the decision for the Giants and starter Tim Lincecum. The outcome ended the Giants' five-game losing streak and gave them nine victories in their past 11 road games.

Lopez suggested that the team's Thursday visit to the White House to be recognized by President Barack Obama for winning last year's World Series could have had a subtly positive effect.

Said Lopez, "Who better than the President of the United States to remind us that we're a good ballclub?"

Each reliever performed in characteristic fashion. Strickland powered through his seventh inning, receiving a break when Philadelphia's Ben Revere neglected to re-touch second base on his return to first base. That turned Jeff Francoeur's fly ball to right into a double play.

Revere misses bag, Giants get DP

Lopez, the left-handed specialist, walked Chase Utley to open the eighth but recovered by coaxing Ryan Howard's double-play comebacker. Romo then finished the eighth by striking out Maikel Franco, concluding the confrontation with a pair of sharp-breaking, untouchable sliders.

Casilla, who allowed five runs (four earned) in his previous two outings, worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save in 19 chances.

"The biggest thing is, you can't let things fester," Lopez said. "You don't want to go in with any timidness. You want to go back there in 'attack' mode."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.