Giants make a statement with weekend sweep of D'backs: 'It says a lot about this club...'

Giants make a statement with weekend sweep of D'backs: 'It says a lot about this club...'

PHOENIX — There were three directions this weekend could have gone for the Giants. 

They could have fallen alarmingly far back in the National League West. They could have floated in place. Or they could have made a statement. 

With a 9-6 win on Sunday, the Giants certainly made a statement. They swept the first-place Diamondbacks behind two rookie pitchers and an offense that came alive in the finale, getting within 2 1/2 games of the lead in the National League West. The Los Angeles Dodgers, preseason favorites in the division, are also 2 1/2 back of the Diamondbacks as the teams get into the second half of the schedule. 

"I said coming into this road trip it was an important road trip because you're playing the team in front of you," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was important we played well. You don't want to create such an uphill climb. These guys came in and played good baseball. These guys knew they had to come in here and play well. It says a lot about this club that they can elevate their game when they need to."

The Giants have just 19 road wins, but they have shown a strange ability to show up against the better clubs. Their four road series victories have come against the Angels, Braves, Nationals and Diamondbacks. The latest one was the most complete of the year, and not just because it was a sweep. The Giants took the first two games behind rookie pitchers, Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez, but Derek Holland had an off day on Sunday. His command was lacking after a hot two-month stretch, but the lineup picked Holland up with 16 hits. 

Brandon Belt had two hits and three walks. Nick Hundley reached base four times. Austin Slater did the same. Brandon Crawford drove in a huge insurance run. Even Hunter Pence got into the mix with a two-run pinch-hit double. The rest kept the line moving and did the little things. 

It was a win with contributions from up and down the roster, and the biggest out might have come from a Giant who has barely seen the field in recent weeks. Cory Gearrin pitched just twice in the previous 17 games but Bochy called on him with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth. Gearrin got a roller toward first and Bochy feared it would sneak into the outfield like Pence's walk-off last Sunday. But Belt covered a ton of ground and made a deft off-balance flip back to Gearrin for the out at first. 

"It was a jump-hook shot, and Cory was the wide receiver," Pence explained.

The Giants mostly cruised home from there. Mark Melancon ran into some trouble in the ninth, but Will Smith entered and retired the potential tying run with runners on the corners. 

As he walked off the field, Bochy was left to take inventory. Pablo Sandoval was pulled early with an elbow contusion but an X-ray was negative and he should be back in a day or two. Gorkys Hernandez might need a day off after fouling a ball off his ankle, but Bochy doesn't think that one is serious, either. The bullpen might be in need of a boost after a couple games at Coors Field, but for now, the manager thinks the group will be alright. 

It's a room that is gaining confidence -- "momentum," Pence said -- and now will try to avoid the sand traps that have popped up on every trip. On the last trip to Denver, the Giants looked just about done. Now they're a season-high five games above .500, and Bochy likes their chances at Coors Field after watching the lineup grind out at-bats on Sunday. 

"You've got to slug it with the other club occasionally," he said. "They did that."

Giants within striking distance of first in NL West after sweep of D'backs

Giants within striking distance of first in NL West after sweep of D'backs

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX — For a couple of weeks now, when asked about the home-heavy schedule the Giants have before the trade deadline, Bruce Bochy has nodded and then pivoted. He likes to point out that no matter how many games this team has at home this month, none of it will matter if the road numbers don’t turn. 

This weekend, the Giants turned around their road fortunes, and the timing couldn’t have been better. A 9-6 win over the Diamondbacks clinched a series sweep that got the Giants within 2 1/2 games of first place. That’s the closest they have been June 10. The Giants still are well below .500 on the road, but they have won eight of their last 14 games away from AT&T Park. Here are the details from the latest win... 

--- Cory Gearrin had pitched just twice in the previous 17 games, but Bruce Bochy put him in a tough spot. Gearrin came on with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth and got Christian Walker to ground out to first. Brandon Belt ranged far toward the line to snag the ball and made a deft flip back to the bag, where Gearrin was waiting. 

--- Pablo Sandoval was hit by a pitch in the third inning and left the game after running the bases. X-rays were negative, and the Giants announced that Sandoval has a right elbow contusion. Alen Hanson took over at third. 

--- Hunter Pence didn’t drive in a run in his first 12 pinch-hit at-bats this season, but he lined a two-run double down the line in the fifth to give the Giants a 7-3 lead. 

--- Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run blast in the seventh to get the Diamondbacks within three. The homer was Goldschmidt's 21st in 127 games against the Giants. Nolan Arenado has 23 homers against the Giants. 

--- Austin Slater had three hits on Friday night and two more Sunday. He also drew two walks in the finale. With two lefties on deck in Denver, Slater should get a nice run of playing time here. Should. 

--- It was a poorly-timed rough start for Derek Holland, who gave up seven hits and three runs in 3 2/3 innings. This came after rookies Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez dominated the same lineup. The decisions become more interesting by the game... 

Rodriguez makes his case to stay in rotation, Giants clinch series vs D'Backs

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USATSI

Rodriguez makes his case to stay in rotation, Giants clinch series vs D'Backs

PHOENIX — After Friday night’s game, manager Bruce Bochy said he would have some tough decisions to make with the rotation. Dereck Rodriguez isn’t making them any easier. 

Rodriguez, making his seventh career appearance, threw 6 1/3 shutout innings on a night when the ball was flying out of Chase Field. He lowered his ERA to 3.16 in a 7-0 win over the Diamondbacks and firmly kept his name in the mix, despite the upcoming returns of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. 

Here’s what else you need to know from the night the Giants snapped a streak of five consecutive one-run games… 

—- Rodriguez threw a career-high 102 pitches, and ended on a high note, striking out John Ryan Murphy before Ty Blach took over. In his last two starts, Rodriguez has allowed just one run in 13 1/3 innings. 

—- Brandon Crawford hit his 10th homer. Andrew McCutchen hit his ninth. Brandon Belt, Gorkys Hernandez and Evan Longoria already were in double-digits. The 2017 Giants had just one player, Belt, hit more than 14 homers. 

—- Joe Panik hit a homer, too, but it was just his fourth. Panik had three homers in the first week of the season but had not gone deep in 163 at-bats. 

—- McCutchen had three hits and all of them were scalded. His homer left the yard at 104 mph and his singles were measured at 110 and 105 mph. 

—- Shelby Miller is back from Tommy John, and his stuff remains elite, but he had a ton of trouble in his second start. Miller gave up nine hits and six earned runs in five innings, although he finished strong and had six strikeouts. The Giants had five singles in the third while piling up four runs.