ST. LOUIS -- Eduardo Nunez ignited one rally and capped the next to help the Giants correct, at least for one night, their troubles on the road, scoring three times over the final three innings to nab a 6-5 win over the Cardinals.
Despite Michael Wacha's six scoreless innings and modest pitch count (86) and the unavailability of setup man Trevor Rosenthal, the Cardinals turned the game over to their 'pen in the seventh. Things got out of hand almost immediately. Nunez opened the inning with a single, and the Giants later capitalized on an error while batting around in their order. In doing so, they flipped a two-run hole into a 3-2 lead.
After a 46-minute rain delay, Dexter Fowler answered back with a three-run homer in the bottom half of the inning to put the Cardinals back ahead by two. But San Francisco scratched across one in the eighth on a Denard Span RBI single, and Nunez put them back in front with a two-run double off Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh in the ninth.
"First thing, letting the leadoff hitter go on the base and second of all was a missed pitch against Nunez," Oh, speaking through a translator, said in citing his two mistakes. "The first pitch was pretty weak."
Before Friday, the Cardinals had not lost a game this season when taking a lead into the ninth. The Giants are now 2-21 this season when trailing after eight innings, and they entered 6-15 on the road. Mark Melancon, making his first appearance since May 3, converted his 17th career save against the Cardinals, most against any opponent.
"Both teams did a great job of bouncing back," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "The bullpens on both sides struggled tonight after the starters did such a great job. ... That would have been a hard one for us to take after the first comeback. So it's a great win for us to start this road trip."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Fielding foibles: For the second time in three games, Cardinals third baseman Jedd Gyorko fumbled a potential double-play ball into unearned runs. The gift came in the seventh when, with runners on the corners, Mac Williamson hit a chopper to Gyorko. The two-hopper skipped off Gyorko's glove, precluding him from getting any out at all. It was the Cardinals' National League-leading 35th error of the season, and the Giants parlayed it into a three-run inning.
Split-second decision: The Cardinals were left to wonder whether the outcome may have been different had reliever Matt Bowman tried for an out at home when he fielded Joe Panik's one-out ground ball in the seventh. Bowman decided for the sure out at first, which allowed Span to score what at the time represented the go-ahead run.
"I know that's what we were trying to get him to do from the mound," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, when asked if Bowman had a play at home. "The problem is going away, going toward the first-base side, he's either going to have to throw against his body or do a spin throw. He's athletic enough to probably make that happen. I know [catcher] Yadi [Molina] was making that call. But when you have the crowd noise, it's more of the instincts of the player to understand where they are, where the ball is and whether or not they feel good making the aggressive play."
"For us to get a win like that in the later innings, just speaking for myself, it's a pretty charged up feeling heading into the rest of it [the road trip]" -- Giants starter Matt Moore, who allowed two runs over his six-inning no-decision.
Matheny, who was fuming over the strike zone two days ago, took issue with it again Friday. And this time, it led to an early exit. Matheny was ejected after Bowman walked two to load the bases in the seventh. He was particularly peeved at two two-strike calls -- one to Joe Panik, the other to Brandon Belt -- that didn't go Bowman's way. The extended at-bats allowed Panik to connect for an RBI groundout and Belt to draw a walk.
"Tired of watching it," Matheny said. "Mistakes are going to happen. We're all going to make them. I get it. But in a big situation, we're going to get called out when we don't do our job. Everybody else needs the same."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With nothing to lose, the Cardinals challenged the final play of the game, asking for a second look to see whether there was a chance that Fowler beat out the double play. The out call was quickly confirmed to seal San Francisco's win.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: RIght-hander Jeff Samardzija (1-5, 5.26 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season Saturday at 4:15 p.m. PT looking to reverse some tough recent history against the Cardinals. He faced them twice in 2016, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA over 11 2/3 innings and is 4-4 with a 4.32 ERA in 21 career appearances against St. Louis.
Cardinals: Right-hander Carlos Martinez will try for his fourth straight win when he faces the Giants in Saturday's 6:15 p.m. CT game. In two career starts against San Francisco, Martinez is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA.