Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria's blast helps Giants stick around with tough tests ahead

Evan Longoria's blast helps Giants stick around with tough tests ahead

PHOENIX — The Giants have embraced a "Never Say Die" attitude in the past, but usually it's in the postseason. This time around, they’re putting a twist on the motto. They refuse to go away in the National League West race. 

The Giants came to Phoenix five games out of first place and left five games out, still very much within striking distance of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. A 3-2 win on Sunday clinched a 4-2 trip, the first winning trip for this group in 13 months, and it turned on one swing from Evan Longoria. The third baseman took Archie Bradley deep in the eighth and the bullpen took it home from there, wrapping up a win that came on the heels of two ugly performances. 

With a loss Sunday, the Giants would have been seven games out, with the Astros and red-hot Pirates coming into town this week, and Dodger Stadium on deck. Every day can feel urgent this time of year, especially with a front office that at some point may decide to dump some salary on waivers. 

“Every game from here on out will be big,” said Derek Holland, the day’s starter. “We’ve got to get the ground back that we need.”

Longoria did his part with one swing, hitting his 12th homer and building on a big weekend for the biggest bats in this lineup. The Giants built their 2018 lineup around the belief that Longoria, Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey could carry them. It appears they’re finally ready. 

Longoria, after smoking an elevated fastball from Bradley, is 15-for-42 since coming off the disabled list. He had five extra-base hits on the road trip. McCutchen reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances over two days. Posey reached base in his first two plate appearances Sunday after sitting a day with concussion fears, and he was 7-for-15 on the road trip.

“It’s been tough, we’ve had guys in and out,” Longoria said. “Obviously as individuals we expect to perform at a certain level. It’s nice to all be out there together and get it going. If there’s a time to get it going, it’s now.”

Bruce Bochy intends to ride the wave. He said McCutchen, Posey and Longoria will hit 1-2-3 in the order for now. 

“Cutch had quite a series, didn’t he? Buster is swinging well and Longo, too,” Bochy said. “That’s what it’s going to take. Those guys are veterans and the heart of the order.”

The Giants will need them to stay hot back home. There are still plenty of leaks on this roster, and while five games isn’t a whole lot to make up, the Giants are five back of two separate opponents. They will have to watch the scoreboard every night, hoping their wins come with losses elsewhere. 

On Sunday, they got no help. The Dodgers beat the Astros and the Rockies, also still in the way, beat the Brewers. But five games is much better than seven, and for some veterans in the clubhouse, it may have provided a reprieve. The Giants will stick with this group a bit longer, hoping to finally catch fire. Longoria helped guarantee that with a homer off the Diamondbacks' best reliever. 

"He's supplying all the power," he said. "You're trying to get the barrel on the ball. The wall is pretty high. I'm glad it just scraped over."

Giants clinch first winning road trip since last summer

Giants clinch first winning road trip since last summer

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The Diamondbacks had the pitcher’s spot due up fourth in the bottom of the seventh Sunday, but they still brought Archie Bradley, their best reliever, into the game in the top of the inning for just one out. They really, really wanted Bradley to face the heart of the Giants’ order in the eighth. The plan backfired. 

Evan Longoria took Bradley deep to dead center at Chase Field, giving the Giants a one-run lead that held up. A 3-2 win over the Diamondbacks clinched a 4-2 road trip, their first winning trip since last summer. 

The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but Sam Dyson got Ketel Marte to fly out to left. Will Smith closed it out in the ninth. Here's what else you need to know ... 

— Longoria was 11-for-27 on the road trip with five extra-base hits, including two homers. He’s 15-for-42 since coming off the disabled list. 

— Derek Holland didn’t allow five runs in the first inning, which was an improvement over the previous two Giants starters. He had another good one, allowing two earned in 5 1/3 innings. Since returning to the rotation, Holland has given up five earned in three starts. 

— Andrew McCutchen reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances before Bradley caught him looking to end the seventh inning. McCutchen went 5-for-5 on Saturday night and walked, singled and walked in his first three plate appearances on Sunday. 

— Ray Black pitched a perfect seventh. He’s up to 10 1/3 consecutive hitless innings. 

Bumgarner battles, Giants' bats wake up late to take down D'backs

Bumgarner battles, Giants' bats wake up late to take down D'backs

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX — Madison Bumgarner didn’t go as deep as he normally does, but he bowed his neck, as Bruce Bochy likes to say, and the lineup did the rest. 

The Giants got two runs off Zack Greinke, who was named NL Pitcher of the Month earlier in the day, and pulled away with a five-run eighth, beating the Diamondbacks 8-1 and giving Bumgarner a win on a night he struggled to get through five. 

The Giants have won four straight after a mini losing streak, keeping touch with the leaders in the National League West. Here’s what you need to know … 

--- It as rather remarkable that Bumgarner allowed just one run in his five innings. He gave up seven hits and walked three, and loaded the bases in each of the first two innings. But he escaped trouble, in part because Evan Longoria snagged a liner in the first that would have scored two. Bumgarner needed 70 pitches to get through the first three innings and was done after 101. 

--- Bumgarner took a long look back at the mound after Greinke threw him a couple of 70 mph curveballs to strike him out in the third inning. Pitchers usually don’t do that to other pitchers, but to be fair to Greinke, Bumgarner has taken him deep twice. With a runner on second in the fifth, Bumgarner waited around for his fastball and smoked it into left to give the Giants a 2-1 lead. 

--- Longoria got the Giants on the board with a solo shot on a slow curveball in the first inning. He tucked the shot just inside the left field pole. The homer was Longoria’s first since coming off the DL and 11th of the year, putting him in a tie for third on the team, behind Brandon Belt and Gorkys Hernandez. 

--- There has been a shift in the bullpen. Mark Melancon pitched the sixth and Ray Black followed him in the seventh. It looks like it’ll stay that way, too. Melancon gave up a couple of rockets but no runs. Black struck out two and extended his hitless streak to 9 1/3 innings. 

--- The Giants gave a rude welcome to two new Diamondbacks relievers. They jumped on Jake Diekman and Brad Ziegler, scoring one in the seventh and five in the eighth. Austin Slater had the big knock, a single up the middle that cleared the bases.