LOS ANGELES — The Giants sure know how to clinch a happy flight.
This was a road trip that should have been better, but at the very least, the players made sure they didn’t have any depressing travel experiences. They beat Max Scherzer on getaway day in Washington D.C. and won a 16-inning game on the final day in Miami. Before flying back to San Francisco for a 10-game homestand, they toppled the Dodgers 4-1 to avoid a sweep and finish the trip at 5-5.
After scoring two-or-fewer runs in 11 consecutive games at Dodger Stadium, the Giants got to four in the first three innings Sunday. Here’s how it all went down …
—The Giants had just two hits in five innings against lefty Caleb Ferguson. Luckily, one was a two-run homer from Nick Hundley and the other was a two-run homer from Brandon Belt. Hundley’s homer was his eighth, giving him twice as many as Buster Posey. Belt’s homer was his team-leading 12th, and first since having his appendix removed.
— Chris Stratton gave up plenty of loud outs, but got through it. He ended up allowing just one run on three hits in six innings. The Giants have won six of Stratton’s last seven starts.
— Quietly, Will Smith has been outstanding. He lowered his ERA to 0.96 after striking out Cody Bellinger and Yasmani Grandal and getting Yasiel Puig to fly out to right.
PITTSBURGH — It wasn’t a surprise that a former Pirates outfielder came up big in his return to PNC Park. It was kind of a surprise that it wasn’t Andrew McCutchen, though.
Gorkys Hernandez smoked a leadoff shot in the sixth to break a scoreless tie and the Giants poured it on from there, scoring five runs in the inning and winning 5-0. Derek Holland made sure the lineup had plenty of time to get into gear, throwing 6 1/3 shutout innings and getting his second win in orange and black.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak and gave the Giants a 4-6 road trip. It wasn't what they envisioned, but given how poorly they played for the last week, they'll probably take it. Here's what else you need to know ...
— Holland had his best day as a Giant. He became the first starter since last Saturday to pitch at least six innings, and despite the fact that he was at 99 pitches, he came back out for the seventh. After getting the first out, he was replaced by Reyes Moronta. Holland gave up four hits and walked five, but did an excellent job of pitching through traffic. He struck out seven.
— Through four innings, the Giants had hit six balls at least 100 mph. None of those balls resulted in base hits. Hernandez found a better way, driving one into the first row of seats in left while leading off the sixth. He now has more homers against the Pirates than he did in 33 games for them.
— With two on and two outs in the sixth, the Pirates called on Richard Rodriguez. He threw Nick Hundley a first-pitch curveball and it was skied right down the left field line for a game-breaking three-run shot. The homer was Hundley’s fourth of the season. That’s twice as many as the team’s starting catcher has.
— Adam Frazier of the Pirates uses “Pony” as his walk-up song. Feels like that should be acknowledged far and wide, so here it is.
SAN FRANCISCO — After his last start, Derek Holland shook his head, looked up at the ceiling, and said he wanted to join in the fun. On Wednesday he finally did.
Holland picked up his first win as a Giant as the lineup battered opposing left-hander Clayton Richard and won 9-4. The Giants have taken four consecutive series and went 7-3 on the homestand. Now the road gets tougher. They’ll head to Atlanta, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and all three of those rebuilding teams have played good ball this season.
For now, here’s a look back at what mattered Wednesday …
— Nick Hundley is making a bid for more playing time. He matched a career-high with four hits, including an opposite-field homer that clanked around the arcade section. Hundley was 8-for-15 on the homestand with seven RBI. Don’t be surprised if there’s a day or two on the upcoming road trip where Brandon Belt plays left and Buster Posey slides over to first.
— Will Smith made his first big league appearance since Game 4 of the NLDS, pitching a scoreless seventh. Smith, who missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery, walked one and then struck out two, including red-hot Padre Eric Hosmer. His fastball topped out at 94 mph. That was an excellent sign for Smith and the future of this bullpen.
— Holland had some wobbles, but avoided the big innings that have undone him for most of the season. He five-and-dived it, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out four.
— Brandon Crawford needed a day like this. The shortstop had just three RBI when he stepped in with the bases loaded in the third and hit a two-run single to right. Crawford also had a single in his next at-bat and threw Hosmer out trying to stretch a double into a triple.