Superb Samardzija leads Giants to victory

Superb Samardzija leads Giants to victory

CINCINNATI -- Jeff Samardzija pitched eight stellar innings and got picked up by another Reds bullpen stumble with two Giants runs in the top of the eighth for a 3-1 victory Tuesday.

Reds reliever Caleb Cotham was close to escaping a jam when Brandon Belt was thrown out trying for second base on a single to left field. Cotham intentionally walked Brandon Crawford to face Kelby Tomlinson with runners on first and third base. Tomlinson bounced a slow roller to shortstop Ivan De Jesus Jr., who had no time to make a throw as Hunter Pence scored. Gregor Blanco followed with an RBI single to right field that made it a two-run game.

That gave the Reds bullpen a single-season record of 21 straight team games with at least one run allowed, snapping the previous record held by the 2013 Rockies.

Blanco's RBI single

Samardzija gave up one run and three hits over his eight innings with two walks and nine strikeouts. His only blemish was an Adam Duvall home run in the fifth inning. He retired 13 of his last 16 batters. Santiago Casilla notched the final three outs for the save. Cincinnati has dropped eight of its last nine games and 10 of the last 12.

"It was as good as I've seen Samardzija pitch, and I've seen him a lot and he's a good pitcher," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He had it all working today."

Samardzija, who has won three consecutive starts for the first time in his career, gave ample credit to Giants catcher Buster Posey for helping him maintain his effectiveness.

"The big thing is me and Buster getting on the same page," Samardzija said. "It's nice being out there not having to rush and think too far ahead. He's in such control back there, I've learned to just pace myself with my pitches and make sure I'm seeing what he's calling and just execute to the best of my ability. He's a great safety net to have back there."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A line drive in the box score: Tomlinson singled twice, with his hits traveling a total of approximately 90 feet. He entered the game batting .194 without an extra-base hit, and he still doesn't have one. But the Giants were extremely pleased with his output in this game, as his run-scoring dribbler to shortstop salvaged their eighth-inning rally.

Tomlinson's go-ahead single

"I thought once I hit it and saw that it was getting by [Cotham] and kind of where it was going that I had a pretty good chance of making it," Tomlinson said.

Duvall stings former club: With one out in the fifth inning, the former Giant Duvall slugged a 1-2 Samardzija pitch for a game-tying solo homer to left-center field. There was a crew-chief review of the play to see if a fan interfered before the ball cleared the fence but the home run call was confirmed.

The Shark bites: Samardzija was still throwing 97 mph as late as the seventh inning. That velocity helped him amass a season-high nine strikeouts. Samardzija thus reversed his fortunes in his recent encounters with the Reds. He had gone 0-5 with a 4.39 ERA in his last nine starts against them.

Posey enumerated Samardzija's pitching assets, which he said constituted "probably some of the most explosive stuff I've caught from start to finish."

Said Posey, "For me, he's 95 to 98 with sink, off a 92 to 95 mile-an-hour cutter, getting his slider over when he's behind on the count, occasionally mixing the split in -- there's a lot of weapons and a lot of different things he can do."

Nice 2016 debut for Lamb: Cincinnati got its third-consecutive quality start from its rotation as John Lamb stepped in for the injured Jon Moscot and worked six innings. Lamb, who was activated from the disabled list to make his first start of the season following December back surgery, allowed one run and six hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He threw 103 pitches.

Lamb's one-run outing

"At the end of the day, I was happy with being able to use the secondary pitches behind in the count and get some sort of an outcome that was in our favor, selfishly in my favor, and try to keep the team in the game," Lamb said.

Price on Reds' 3-1 loss

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Giants challenged the eighth-inning ruling that resulted in Belt being called out at second base as he tried to stretch a single into a double. Following a replay review that lasted two minutes and 57 seconds, it was decided that the call stands.

De Jesus Jr. throws Belt out

HAMILTON INJURES THUMB AGAIN
Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton exited the game before the fifth inning with a jammed left thumb. It's an injury he's dealt with before during the season.

"He got jammed with a pitch in his first at-bat and it just blew up," Price said of Hamilton's thumb.

Hamilton out with thumb injury

WHAT'S NEXT
Giants: San Francisco will conclude its two-city, six-game trip with Wednesday's 9:35 a.m. PT encounter. Jake Peavy, who began the trip by allowing six runs last Friday at New York, will seek improvement and redemption.

Reds: The series concludes at 12:35 p.m. ET Wednesday with television coverage on MLB Network. Dan Straily, who has a 3.45 ERA in his three starts since joining the rotation, will get the start for Cincinnati.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

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.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.