In the rubber match of the series, the Giants used the best tools at their disposal – pitching and home runs – to beat the Reds 6-1.
Despite dropping game one on Tuesday night against Homer Bailey, San Francisco rallied to win games two and three and keep the best record in baseball (39-21).
Todd Frazier hit his 12th home run of the season to right to put Cincinnati up 1-0 quickly. But San Francisco wasn’t behind for long. Pablo Sandoval singled to lead off the top of the second before Michael Morse launched his 13th bomb of the year making it 2-1.
And that’d be enough run support for Bumgarner (8-3, 2.68), as he showed why he’s the ace of this staff and the reigning National League pitcher of the month. After going 5-0 in May, the lefty continued his winning ways on Thursday, tossing eight innings and allowing one run on three hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. He continued to pound the strike zone, throwing 106 pitches, 70 strikes.
The Giants extended their lead in the top of the fourth when Sandoval – who went three-for-four and is now batting .252 – led off with a single. After Morse struck out, Tyler Colvin singled to right before Brandon Crawford crushed a three-run homer to right-center field making it 5-1. The shortstop is now just two home runs shy of his career-high (nine in 2013).
Crawford’s long ball also gave San Francisco 68 on the year, fourth in the majors and second in the National League. Talk about a turnaround; on June 5th, 2013, the black and orange had hit just 43 home runs. The hit also helped to knock out Reds starter Mike Leake (3-5, 3.29), who went five innings, giving up eight hits, five runs, and one walk while striking out five. Before Thursday, Leake hadn’t allowed a home run since April 26.
The Giants added an insurance run in the seventh off of Sean Marshall when Angel Pagan led off with a walk, and Hunter Pence singled. Buster Posey followed it up with an RBI single, his sixth hit in his last four games. George Kontos pitched a perfect 1-2-3 ninth inning to close it out. And after committing seven errors in the first two games of the series, San Francisco’s defense was spectacular on Thursday, with Crawford and Sandoval gobbling up every groundball that dared to be hit to the left side of the infield.
San Francisco now has 20 road wins on the season and heads home after going 5-2 on a tough road trip. They return to AT&T Park on Friday night to face the New York Mets eight and a half games up on the second place Los Angeles Dodgers. Matt Cain (1-3, 3.66) is expected make his return to the starting rotation to take on Jon Niese (3-3, 2.69).