SAN FRANCISCO -- In one month, the Giants have seen their formidable National League West lead shrink to a less comfortable cushion. Losing eight of nine games entering Tuesday certainly didn't help and made holding on to a 9-7 victory over the Reds all the more necessary. Their lead over the second-place Dodgers, which was seven games on June 24, remained at 2 1/2 games.
Matt Cain gave the Giants a 4-0 lead with a booming three-run home run in the bottom of the second inning against struggling rookie lefty Cody Reed. It became a five-run lead in the third after three hits led to Grant Green's RBI groundout that scored Mac Williamson. However, Cain could not provide a quality start in his second game back from the disabled list. He gave up four runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings with one walk, four strikeouts and two home runs.
"Overall, I thought he pitched pretty good. Of course, the bat helped," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "But they kept coming back. And that's us. We don't do anything easy."
Joey Votto's leadoff homer in the fourth inning and Adam Duvall's two-run homer in the sixth helped tighten the game and prompted Cain's departure. A three-run bottom of the seventh, including Brandon Crawford's two-run triple to the gap in right-center field against reliever Blake Wood, provided some insurance for San Francisco. It was needed when Jay Bruce and Duvall hit back-to-back homers against Sergio Romo in the top of the eighth. For Bruce, it was his fifth homer in his last four games and 24th overall.
Votto's sacrifice fly in the ninth made it a two-run game before Santiago Casilla struck out Bruce -- who represented the tying run -- and notched his 22nd save.
"Down 5-0, 6-2 and 9-4 and found our way back in the ballgame against their best guys," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Cain gives offense a boost: After a series-opening loss to the Reds, Bochy said the Giants needed a quality start from a pitcher. The club didn't get one from Cain. But Cain's most important contribution came at the plate. With runners on first and third in the second, Cain crushed a three-run home run over the left-field fence to increase the Giants' early lead. It was Cain's seventh home run of his career and his first since 2012.
"It's just nice to go out there and be able to contribute," said Cain. "In that situation, you're looking to try and help out the guys when you have a chance with the bat. It turned out pretty good." More »
Duvall closes gap, twice: The Giants and Cain took a 6-2 lead into the sixth inning before Duvall smoked a 3-2 Cain pitch for a two-run homer to the first row of seats in left-center field. It was Duvall's first since July 9 at Miami, and the exit velocity of the drive, according to Statcast™, was 110 mph. In the eighth right after Bruce homered, Duvall made it back-to-back shots with a drive to left field that traveled 447 feet, beating out Bruce's 442-foot homer from Monday for the longest homer (tracked by Statcast™) hit at AT&T Park this season by a visiting player. The All-Star has 25 homers for the season and two multi-homer games. More »
Posey displays speed: Not known for his baserunning skills, Buster Posey showed off his speed in the bottom of the fifth. The catcher opened the inning with a leadoff single and reach second an at-bat later because of a wild pitch. With one out and Brandon Belt at the plate, Posey then stole third. It was his sixth stolen base of the season. After Belt walked, Posey scored thanks to a sacrifice fly from Green, giving the Giants a four-run cushion.
"He's a smart baserunner," said Bochy. "He's got a pretty good success rate. He wanted to get to third with one out, good read on his part. Speed kills. It's good to get a stolen base there."
Reed roughed up, again: It was another rough start for Reed, who had five innings with six runs (five earned), nine hits, two walks and three strikeouts to make him 0-5 with a 7.07 ERA in seven starts. Price felt Reed was getting beat because his fastball was hittable and lacked downward plane. Despite the pitcher's lack of success, there remains no plans to send him back to the Minors.
"He's going to have to go through this ride to get better," Price said. "You can't figure everything out in Triple-A. Sometimes you've got to come up here and learn your final lessons, and he's getting some lessons."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With runners on second and third in the second inning, Ramiro Pena bounced a chopper between third and short. In a nice play far to his right, shortstop Zack Cozart snatched the ball with his glove and threw toward third as Belt raced there from second. Belt was called out, but after a Giants challenge, the ruling was overturned, setting the stage for Cain's homer.
The bases were loaded with one out in the bottom of the third when Grant Green appeared to ground into an inning-ending double play. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips tagged Belt, who was running from first, and fired toward first baseman Votto. But the Giants challenged that Phillips never touched Belt. After a replay review, the call was overturned and one run scored because of it.
In the top of the fifth with two outs, Billy Hamilton was called out trying to steal second base. The Reds challenged umpire Mark Ripperger's call, and it was overturned upon review. On the next pitch, Hamilton successfully stole third base, giving him 34 steals this season.
"It's always a battle when I go out there as of now. I'm trying to keep going, that's about it." -- Reed
After Angel Pagan argued a called third strike in the eighth, home-plate umpire Joe West promptly ejected the Giants left fielder.
"He's a competitor, he's fiery, and you know Joe, he's got zero tolerance. He thought he was showing him up, waving the bat," said Bochy.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Wrapping up the series at 3:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Reds will send Dan Straily to the mound hoping to continue his solid personal streak. Straily has four straight quality starts, including his two runs allowed over six innings his last time out Friday vs. the D-backs.
Giants: San Francisco will turn to Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. PT in hopes the ace can give them another quality outing. Bumgarner is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA when pitching in day games this season.