SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford crushed a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Chris Heston threw seven solid frames as the San Francisco Giants beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-2, Monday night at AT&T Park.
Heston received the win for the third time in as many starts as he allowed two runs on five hits, with three walks and four strikeouts. The right-hander helped the Giants win for the 12th time in 13 games and cut their National League West deficit behind the first-place Dodgers to a half-game.
"He's just been unbelievable to watch this year," third baseman Matt Duffy said of Heston. "[He's been] huge for us [after] not making the club Opening Day and thrust into a start right away. He's been good by anybody's standards, I think, let alone the situation that he started out with."
Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez and manager Craig Counsell were ejected, starter Kyle Lohse became the first pitcher in the Majors to 12 losses and Milwaukee's offense remained in a July freeze. After scoring 31 runs in their first five games out of the All-Star break, the Brewers have scored seven runs in the five games since.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bye Bye Baby: After Brandon Belt drove home Duffy with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, Crawford stepped to the dish with a runner on first. Lohse delivered three straight pitches out of the strike zone to begin the at-bat and then gave Crawford a fastball right down the middle, which he belted over the right-center-field wall to give the Giants a three-run cushion. The bomb was the 15th of the season for Crawford, who passed Buster Posey for the team lead.
"He hit it where the big boys hit 'em," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Slump snapped: Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy snapped Milwaukee's streaks of 26 innings without an extra-base hit and 23 innings without scoring a run when he delivered an RBI double off Heston to highlight a two-run rally in the sixth inning. It was the Brewers' first extra-base hit since Ryan Braun's home run in the sixth inning of Friday's win at Arizona, which was followed by 13 Brewers singles over parts of four games.
"We had some chances tonight and just couldn't get that next hit," Counsell said. "That's what goes on when you struggle scoring runs, is that next hit that kind of gets you over the hump [is missing]. We just haven't been able to get it the last couple nights."
Immediate insurance: Pinch-hitting for Heston in the bottom of the seventh, Gregor Blanco drove the first pitch he saw into the left-center-field gap to bring home Crawford. Blanco's 14th double of the season extended the Giants' lead to 4-2.
Glovework: Lohse pitched into the seventh inning for only the third time since May 15 and exited with the Brewers in striking distance. That marked progress, and Lohse's defenders deserved a lot of the credit. Gomez made a leaping catch against the right-center-field wall to end the sixth inning with a man on base, and first baseman Shane Peterson (an outfielder by trade) made a terrific diving stop for the second out of the seventh inning to strand a runner at third.
"That was pretty impressive," Lohse said of the Peterson play. "It's fun to see a guy step up when there's a need and do something he normally doesn't do."
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When Crawford connected in the fourth inning, it marked the 18th time in Lohse's 21 starts that the veteran surrendered at least one home run. He allowed a homer in only 32 of 63 starts during his previous two seasons with the Brewers.
Duffy attempted to swipe second base in the bottom of the eighth inning, but was initially ruled out. Bochy requested a review of the play, and replay officials overturned the call, determining Scooter Gennett did not tag Duffy before he touched the bag.
The Giants challenged again in the ninth after Gomez reached on a leadoff error and, though his team trailed by two runs, stole second base. Upon review, Gomez was out, and he drew an ejection after spiking his helmet in protest. Counsell was also ejected in the aftermath of the ruling, his first career ejection in the Major Leagues. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: Wily Peralta returns from two months on the disabled list to start Game 2 of the series on Tuesday. Peralta, the Brewers' most valuable pitcher in 2014, had not suffered a significant injury since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007 before he strained his left oblique May 22.
Giants: San Francisco on Tuesday hands the ball to Matt Cain, who is 3-7 with a 4.81 ERA in 11 career starts against Milwaukee. Cain is coming off a 7-1 win over San Diego in which he threw six innings of one-run ball while striking out six.