SAN FRANCISCO — For a team with only 14 wins, the Giants have packed in quite a few thrilling games.
There was the night Joe Panik drove one into center at Kauffman Stadium to beat the Royals in extra innings. The night newcomers Christian Arroyo and Michael Morse homered in a comeback win over the Dodgers. The night Johnny Cueto edged Clayton Kershaw. Just a few days ago, the Giants scored four in the ninth to stun the Mets.
Those games came with a common, unfortunate theme: They were all followed by a loss.
Momentum has slipped through this last place team’s grasp over and over again, but on Saturday the Giants finally found a way to keep their ship headed in the right direction. Matt Moore was sharp into the eighth and two solo homers proved enough. The Giants beat the Reds 3-1, getting a second win in 15 hours.
“I think last night helped propel us to win today, honestly,” said Justin Ruggiano, who hit the second blast. “Matt knew we needed innings and he took on the challenge. Had we lost that game (last night), that would have made us even more tired. But it gave us a little jolt and carried into today.”
Even Moore, who was sent home after the fifth inning Friday, felt the energy. A starter is ostensibly sent home early so he can rest, but Moore couldn’t pull himself away from the marathon. He watched until the final out, and when he reported to the clubhouse Saturday morning, he hoped no one would ask what time he turned the TV off. Regardless, he gave Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti exactly what they needed.
The Giants were already quietly planning roster moves in case the bullpen had another taxing day. Moore then went out and tossed 120 pitches, tying the second-highest total of his career. He got the first out of the eighth before departing.
“It was really needed for him to get us deep into the game and he gave us more than I thought, to be honest, with where his pitch count was early,” Bochy said. “He found a way to make some pitches.”
The Giants found an unlikely way to give Moore the lead. A group lacking power smacked two solo shots, one from Brandon Belt that found the water, and one from Ruggiano, who has had plenty of success at AT&T Park.
“Having a lot of day games here has helped,” Ruggiano said.
A night earlier, he had been robbed by the thick air.
“I hit this one about the same,” he said. “They felt the same to me. (But) I know how it is here in day games.”
Moore gave up a homer himself, but that was it. He was charged with one run over 7 1/3 and picked up his first win since April 10. That was also the last time the Giants went back-to-back. On April 11 they lost again, and they dropped eight of 11 overall after their previous “winning streak.”
Players and coaches were hopeful this style will be more long-lasting. The Giants have gotten back to their roots the last 24 hours, winning on starting pitching, a resilient bullpen, and a steady defense. Shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik were particularly flashy Saturday. Moore even added to the highlight reel, snagging Joey Votto’s scorched liner back to the mound.
“I was kind of wondering how guys catch those,” he said, smiling. “I threw the ball and then my hand was hurting.”
An hour later, he used it for handshakes and high-fives. He hopes to do it again Sunday.
“Obviously the trench we’re in is steep, right? But without making excuses or saying we have time, it’s about taking it one at a time,” he said. “If we slow down and worry about today, and take care of what’s right in front and keep your head down, that seems the way to handle it.”