Nobody would have blamed Tyler Beede for opening his second half with a clunker. The Giants right-hander went 12 days between starts and spent much of that time back in the Boston area after the death of his stepfather.
There was nothing normal about the run-up to Beede's start Sunday in Milwaukee against a tough Brewers lineup, and yet there he was, looking very much at home late in the Giants' 8-3 win -- both on the mound and at the plate.
Beede gave up three earned over 6 2/3 innings and tied his career high with seven strikeouts. Over his past three starts, he has thrown 19 innings and allowed just six runs, but it was his work at the plate Sunday that really served as the highlight.
Beede had a hard single up the middle in his first at-bat and helped kick-start a six-run game-winning rally in the seventh. With the score tied at 2 and Donovan Solano on second base, Giants manager Bruce Bochy -- who had a short-handed bench and lost Evan Longoria to foot discomfort during the game -- sent Beede up to bunt. He pulled the bat back on a 2-1 pitch and chopped a 97-mph heater up the middle to give the Giants a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"I was really just trying to put something in play on the ground and get the guy over," Beede told reporters. "Fortunately, they were expecting the bunt. I had the second baseman shifted over enough to where the ball squeaked through. Obviously, you get a little lucky there, but it's good to put the ball in play."
The Giants were happy to take Beede's contributions at the plate, but what they needed more than anything was innings, and he threw 103 pitches while getting into the seventh. That was huge for a club that has a doubleheader at Coors Field on Monday and four games in Denver over three days.
"He clutched up in a huge way, didn't he?" Bochy said. "The guy, he really did a great job on both sides of the ball. He helped himself. What a game he had to get us there to that point. That was huge."
Beede's surge has come with a continued change in approach. He cut his repertoire down to three pitches -- four-seamer, curveball, changeup -- this spring and turned his career around, but as he has gotten comfortable in the big leagues, Beede has opened things back up. A month ago against the Padres, Beede subtly mixed in a couple of sliders. In his last start before the break, he threw 15 of them, and on Sunday he threw 23 of them. Beede threw more sliders than curves or changeups, a major adjustment for him.
That's the sign of a pitcher who is gaining confidence, and he's doing it for a team that's doing so. The Giants have won nine of their last 12, and on Sunday they rode a rookie to a big series win.
"We needed it," said first baseman Brandon Belt, who hit a solo homer. "He looked composed. He looked like a vet out there."