Giants ride big third inning to win over Cardinals
By Jenifer Langosch and Justin Wise
SAN FRANCISCO -- Skipping batting practice appears to be the cure for the Giants' struggles at the plate. The group broke out offensively for the second night in a row Friday, utilizing a six-run third inning and Buster Posey's first home run in two months to beat the Cardinals, 8-2, at AT&T Park.
Posey's two-run homer came one frame after he hit a two-run single as part of a third inning in which the Giants brought 12 batters to the plate. Posey is 7-for-9 in the two games since manager Bruce Bochy canceled batting practice for the club. Posey's teammates have been just as sharp, scoring 10 of their 14 runs in this series with two outs.
"It is such a long season, we're in mid-September right now, and it just gives you a different feel," Posey said. "It breaks up the monotony of being here the same time for the last six months. It just gives you a different feel and it's been a good feel for us."
The offense's splash perfectly supported left-hander Matt Moore, who received the win despite experiencing an uneven outing. The Giants remained one game in front of the Mets and moved three games ahead of the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card standings. They also stayed four games back of the Dodgers in the NL West.
"It's all about bouncing back and not dwelling on what just happened," Bochy said, before adding that the club will forgo batting practice again Saturday. "At this point, you got to keep fighting. You have no choice in this game; that's what good teams do."
St. Louis right-hander Luke Weaver jumped out to a fast start, striking out the first four batters he faced. But a 28-pitch third inning in which he allowed six runs chased him from the game. Catcher Yadier Molina's throwing error in that inning didn't help, and the rookie was charged with zero earned runs because of it.
"Like I said last time, we have to make those in-game adjustments real quick," said Weaver, who walked two of the first four batters he faced in that final inning. "I thought I made some good pitches. I think because I was falling behind and wasn't able to attack and be aggressive, they found the barrels on those pitches, whereas if I'm aggressive and throwing strikes, those could probably be groundouts or flyouts."
The Cardinals, who are hitting .185 in the first two games of this series, have now dropped five of their last six games.
"We just have to play better," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's all there is to it. The standings are the standings, and we know what they are. You can't run from them, hide from them. The standings say that we're right there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Ending a drought: Posey entered Friday without a home run in a career-high 182 at-bats. He also hadn't hit a homer at AT&T Park since July 4. But those streaks finally came to a halt in the fourth inning, after Posey crushed a first-pitch offering from Jaime Garcia over the left-center-field fence.
"It was great to see him smiling and laughing after he touched home plate," said Brandon Belt. "That's kind of out of the ordinary; he's pretty stone-faced most of the time. You know what he's capable of doing." More »
Molina's miscue: The night may have transpired much differently had Molina made an on-target throw to second after scooping up Moore's sacrifice-bunt attempt in the third. Instead, Molina's throw sailed over the head of shortstop Aledmys Diaz, and the floodgates opened. The Giants went on to score six times -- all unearned runs -- and chased Weaver before he could finish the frame. It marked the first time since Sept. 17, 2011, that the Cardinals had allowed six unearned runs in a game.
"He makes that play 99 out of 100 times," Matheny said of Molina, who declined an interview request. "We've seen him do it. We want him aggressive trying to make the best play he can make. We had a great chance of getting out of there without the top of the order coming around." More »
Tacking on: The Giants didn't let up after Joe Panik hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning to score Denard Span. Posey and Belt each hit two-run base hits and Brandon Crawford punctuated the inning with an RBI single, making it 6-0.
"They're getting good swings off," said Bochy. "Their confidence grows with success. When you're struggling, you start fighting it a little bit. They're just going up there with confidence. They're good hitters. That's what we're going to need."
Role change: Bumped from the rotation this week, Garcia made his first relief appearance since his 2008 rookie season. The results were mixed. Garcia served up Posey's two-run blast that deepened the Cardinals' deficit, but he also notched five strikeouts. That's more strikeouts than Garcia had tallied in his previous two starts combined.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With two outs and a runner on third, Diaz appeared to have hit an infield single to score Tommy Pham. However, the Giants challenged that Crawford's throw reached first in time to get Diaz out. The ruling was overturned and ended the inning.
After Crawford singled with two outs in the bottom of the third, Stephen Piscotty fired a dart to Molina to get a sprinting Belt out at home. But the Giants challenged that Belt reached the base before he was tagged and the ruling was overturned, making it 6-0, San Francisco.
"I definitely feel like everything I did in the sim game was really close to what I had tonight. Just from the injury standpoint, I don't have the pain in my forearm, the tearing sensation I was getting with the muscle. It's night and day." -- Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal, who made a scoreless appearance in his first outing since July 25
"It's hard to explain. It really is. I just thought it was time to freshen 'em up a bit. It's worked out nice. When this happens, you wonder if you should do it more." -- Bochy on the Giants ditching batting practice and getting positive results
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The Cardinals, still looking for their first win of the series, will turn to veteran right-hander Mike Leake, who will be making his first start at AT&T Park since he pitched for the Giants last season. Leake is winless in two games since returning from shingles. First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. CT.
Giants:Jeff Samardzija will take the ball when the Giants continue their four-game series with the Cardinals on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. PT. Samardzija allowed six runs, including four homers, in his last start against St. Louis.