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What we learned as Wade Jr. saves Giants with late homer

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LaMonte Wade Jr. homer

The Giants and Dodgers have played at the same time the last two days and finished at nearly the same time, which has led to some wild swings in what has become a very, very tight NL West race. The one that happened on Saturday afternoon was enormous. 

The Giants were two outs from being just half a game up in the NL West, but five minutes after the Dodgers clinched their ninth straight win, LaMonte Wade Jr. stunned the A's with a two-run homer. The Giants trailed all afternoon but won 6-5, evening this three-game series in Oakland and holding their 1 1/2 game lead in the division. 

Wade's blast came after Brandon Belt's walk put the tying run on first against Lou Trivino. It was his first career pinch-hit homer and the MLB-leading 13th of the season for the Giants, and it salvaged one of their uglier games of the season.

This one looked like it would go off the rails early, with the A's scoring three times in the first. But Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer to settle things, and the Giants leaned on the home run again when they found themselves down by three in the late innings. Brandon Belt and Darin Ruf went back-to-back to cut the deficit to one, and the Giants seemed to be in business an inning later.

Brandon Crawford and Tommy La Stella reached on bloops, but what followed was about as bad as the Giants have been this season. Curt Casali popped up a bunt attempt and Crawford was caught trying to swipe third. With two outs, Jake Diekman blew a fastball past Austin Slater to end the threat. 

 

Still Grinding

The story of the second half for the starting staff -- Logan Webb excluded -- has been an inability to get as deep into games as in the first half, and ace Kevin Gausman is having the biggest issues right now. 

Only two of the five runs Gausman allowed were earned, but the long innings got him out after just 3 2/3 innings. In seven second-half starts, Gausman has failed to go at least five innings four times. He has completed six innings just once, and the staff as a whole has done it just 10 times in 24 games since the break. In the first half, that rate was 48 percent. 

Back-to-Back

Ownage isn't always ownage.

Belt was 0-for-16 off lefty Andrew Chafin before hitting a majestic homer in the seventh, his 17th of the year. That's just one off his career-high. That blast was followed by a screamer off Ruf's bat that just cleared the scoreboard in left.

Ruf now has 14 homers, tying his most in the big leagues. He also hit 14 in 2013 for the Phillies in his first full season. This was the eighth time this season the Giants went back-to-back. 

Crucial Mistake

The Giants did not project to be a good defensive team this season, but through their positioning and some minor improvements from veterans, they've been one of the best in the league. They still have shaky moments, though, and Wilmer Flores' throwing error in the first inning proved to be pretty costly to Gausman

Flores' throw on leadoff hitter Mark Canha's grounder was just out of Brandon Belt's reach and bounced into the sprawling foul territory in Oakland. Canha ended up at third and immediately scored on Starling Marte's double. The A's would bring two more runs home in a lengthy inning for Gausman, who gave up three unearned runs to start his day.