Giants come alive against rival Dodgers

In a young season in which the Giants have struggled to put together a complete performance, San Francisco excelled in every phase of the game Tuesday evening, thumping the NL West-leading Dodgers 6-1 at AT&T Park.

The Giants entered the game hitting .198 with runners in scoring position, but finally got their act together at the plate, going 4-for-11 with men on base.

Two spectacular plays in the field overshadowed the Giants’ clutch hitting, including an inning-ending double play in the top of the sixth that will likely go down as one of the best defensive plays of the year.

Brandon Crawford once again showed his range and wizardry with the glove, beginning the sequence by making a diving stop to his left on a ground ball that seemed destined to sneak through. Crawford then sublimely flipped the ball out of his glove to Joe Panik at second, who fired immediately to first base, beating the charging Howie Kendrick by a millisecond.

Bruce Bochy said the play reminded him of the double play started by Panik in Game 7 of last year’s World Series.

Justin Maxwell did his best to top it in right field during the bottom of the eighth, sacrificing his body with a sliding catch into the wall in deep foul territory on a Puig popup. Maxwell was slow to get to his feet, but received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd as he walked back to his position in right field.

Starting for the fourth time this season, Maxwell responded in the bottom half of the inning by blasting a 97-mph heater over the left field wall for the game’s only home run. The two-run jack was his first of the year.

Bochy praised the sequence and said the 31-year-old earned a spot in the lineup tomorrow:

“I didn’t think he had a chance for the ball and I had a good angle on it. He had to go a long ways and that ball was blowing away from him. He slammed into the wall pretty good, but he came out of it fine and ends up hitting a home run. Real nice game, he’ll be back out there tomorrow.”

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Tim Lincecum (W, 1-1, 2.00 ERA) continued his hot start to the season by thwarting one of the hottest lineups in baseball, allowing just one and striking out six in six innings.

Lincecum came up big in two separate two-out situations, getting Yasiel Puig to pop up to end the third, and inducing Jimmy Rollins to strike out to end the fifth with runners in scoring position.

Bochy called the game one of the most complete performances of the season:

“We had contributions throughout the order. Played well defensively, made pitches when we had to…(The Dodgers) are good, they’re on a great roll. We had to come out and play good ball and we did it.”

Four infield singles helped manufacture San Francisco’s first four runs, leading to a frustrating evening for Los Angeles starter Brett Anderson (L, 1-1, 4.80 ERA), who was pulled after allowing nine hits in four innings.

Brandon Crawford started things off in the second inning, laying down and beating out a perfect two-out bunt to score Justin Maxwell from third for the game’s first run.

The Giants again squeezed out all they could out of Anderson when Posey knocked in Joe Panik on an RBI single in the third inning after Panik and Pagan set the table with consecutive infield hits.

The fourth inning saw the Giants again do damage on an infield single, when Nori Aoki‘s dribbler down the first base line again scored Maxwell from third. The Dodgers compounded the damage with an Adrian Gonzalez throwing error, that scored Crawford from second base for a 4-0 lead.

Javier Lopez got a huge out in the top of the eighth following Maxwell’s catch, getting Adrian Gonzalez to ground out with men on second and third to end the inning. Gonzalez, who entered the game with a .469 average, went 0-for-3 with a walk and an error.

Things got interesting in the ninth inning when the Dodgers scored on a Santiago Casilla wild pitch after Jean Machi walked Joc Pederson to load the bases. Casilla got the next batter, Justin Turner, to ground out to end the game. The Dodgers’ other run came in the fifth inning on an Alex Guerrero pinch-hit RBI double.

Notes

The Giants won just their second game of this homestand and are now 2-6 through the first eight games. … Tim Lincecum’s 2.00 ERA through his first three starts of the season is his lowest since 2011 when he posted a 1.86 ERA through his first three outings. … Nori Aoki went 2-for-4 with a RBI and leads the club with eight multi-hit games in 15 contests this season. … Justin Maxwell’s home run was his first since Sept. 22, 2013. He had gone 82 at-bats between home runs.


Follow @SFBay and @JakeMMontero on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the San Francisco Giants.