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Giants soak in 'electric' crowds, but fail to sweep A's

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Sammy Long pitching

SAN FRANCISCO -- Twenty minutes after Sunday's game ended at Oracle Park, there were still hundreds of people walking the concourse and sitting in seats in the lower deck. They were soaking in more than just a few extra rays of sunshine. 

This entire weekend felt like a celebration at Third and King, with more than 100,000 fans filing in over three days and bringing a party atmosphere back to a ballpark that has had cutouts and roped-off seats for most of the last two seasons. Nobody really wanted to leave when the games were over, and that included the large cheering section for Sammy Long, who grew up watching both teams. 

With his family and friends in the stands, the young lefty had an up-and-down first taste of the rivalry in a 6-2 Giants loss. Long left too many balls up in the zone in the first inning and gave up a couple of runs, but he settled in from there and cruised into the sixth. That's when his command left him again, and the A's added three more runs before the inning was over. 

Long was disappointed with the results, but still took a moment to look around after he got back to the dugout. He called the atmosphere "electric."

"To be able to pitch in front of all those people -- the (Bay Bridge Series) is one that I grew up looking forward to, and to be on the mound for one of those games was awesome," Long said. "It didn't go my way this time. I'm happy we won the series, but it's on to the next one."

 

That next one is an even bigger series. The Giants left Oracle Park and headed for Los Angeles, where they'll face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who entered the day 4 1/2 games back in the NL West Standings. The matchups will match the magnitude of what's at stake every time these teams meet the rest of the year. A red-hot Anthony DeSclafani faces Trevor Bauer on Monday and Kevin Gausman takes on Walker Buehler on Tuesday.

"You know you're going to have a battle on your hands," Buster Posey said. "We'll try to have a good approach and do what we can to try to come out on top."

This is the toughest five-game stretch of the season thus far for MLB's first team to 50 wins, and the Giants are handling it well so far. A ninth-inning rally that fell short got the crowd back into the game Sunday, but the Giants still took two of three from an A's club that's been one of the American League's best all season. 

"I think it's the right time to talk about the A's being a really good baseball team and we have a lot of respect for the way they run their club and build their roster and the people that are working for the A's," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I thought it was a good series. I'm proud of our guys for winning the series. I definitely felt the energy in the ballpark and appreciate the support that we got throughout the weekend."

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The final game against the A's came with a silver lining. The Giants got Posey back in the lineup after two days of back tightness and he looked like his normal self, picking up a pair of hits, including a single off the right field wall that helped jumpstart that late rally. Posey played in front of a packed house nearly every night at the start of his career, but also has seen the down years. He said he enjoyed seeing Oracle Park get back to full capacity. 

"It was nice. The energy was definitely there and it makes it more fun for players, for sure, and I would think it makes it more fun for fans, as well," he said. "The A's series and the Dodgers series both kind of stand out for me for regular season ones that have a little bit of extra energy."