Tomlinson steps up with key hustle, hits in win

'That's how you play the game,' Bochy says of rookie's effort vs. Cubs

Tomlinson steps up with key hustle, hits in win

SAN FRANCISCO -- The short-handed Giants lineup needed a boost Wednesday night as they try to climb back into the National League Wild Card race, and rookie Kelby Tomlinson was there to provide it.

An unlikely hero, Tomlinson helped San Francisco push the tying run across in the first inning and added an RBI double in the sixth to propel the Giants to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs to move within 6 1/2 games of the second Wild Card spot.

After the Cubs jumped out to an early two-run lead in the top of the first, the Giants answered back with two runs of their own in the bottom half and Tomlinson was in the thick of the rally.

With runners on first and third and two outs in the opening frame, Tomlinson worked a seven-pitch walk to load the bases. Juan Perez followed with a chopper right to Addison Russell at shortstop, who tossed to second.

Tomlinson, however, had already dove safely into the base.

"That's how you run the bases," manager Bruce Bochy said.

Perez's RBI fielder's choice

Tomlinson's speed is well documented. He stole 49 bases for Double-A Richmond in 2014 and had 21 steals in the Minors this season before the Giants called him up in early August.

But it was more than just his wheels that allowed him to reach second base in a flash. Tomlinson was nearly halfway down the baseline before Kyle Hendricks released the pitch.

"We had other guys on so Rizzo was way up the middle and I could get pretty far off of first base," Tomlinson said. "Once you see it's on the ground, you get a good secondary and get your momentum going that way. You just get there as quick as you can."

The second baseman's baserunning prowess allowed Matt Duffy to score from third and tie the score at two.

"Kelby deserves a lot of credit for beating that ball out at second," Buster Posey said.

When the Giants were looking to add to their one-run lead later in the contest, Tomlinson picked them up once again.

The 25-year-old, filling in for the injured Joe Panik, slapped a first-pitch fastball to right field to pad the margin.

"I was trying to be a little more aggressive there," Tomlinson said. "I figured he would try to come in and challenge me again to try and get ahead. I wanted to try to be real aggressive knowing that."

The double marked the 11th time the rookie has hit safely in his last 12 games.

The Giants will take the hits any day, of course, but it's Tomlinson's hustle play on the basepaths, Bochy said, that sparks a team in need.

"That's something, to me, that can get contagious," Bochy said. "The guys saw that effort and the jump he got, the effort he put in to beat that throw there. … That's how you play the game."

Oliver Macklin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.