Powerful Brewers out-small ball Giants

Milwaukee has hit 184 home runs this year, the long-ball acting as the main gear to this high-powered offense.

Eric Thames, who has 27 of them, led off the third inning by crushing a fastball 433 feet into Bonds territory. It ricocheted off the tippy-top bricks for a stand-up triple.

Jeff Samardzija didn’t waste his home field’s gift, working a shallow fly-out, a pop-up and a ground-out to strand Thames at third:

“After a few quick outs we were able to get out of it.”

That’s when it became apparent that the Giants (51-77) home field advantage, against this team, would come in handy. The Brewers (66-61) would need to execute situational hitting, which isn’t their strong suit.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Fortunes looked reversed, too, when Brandon Crawford hit a go-ahead two-run homer 414 feet on the same general trajectory of Thames’ triple.

But the Brewers adjusted, with a little help, and pulled out a 4-3 win Tuesday night.

Gorkys Hernandez — in for a late-scratched Hunter Pence — let leak Milwaukee’s go ahead-run in the fourth when he dropped a fairly routine fly ball to break a 1-1 tie. It wouldn’t blemish a 6-inning, one earned run outing for Samardzija, at least, who knocked his ERA down from 4.79 to 4.67.

But manager Bruce Bochy felt it necessary to give his work horse a breather. Samardzija now leads the National League with 167-2/3 innings pitched, so Bochy took him out with just 89 pitches under his belt and chance for his ninth win:

“I’ve worked him hard and I was looking out for him more than anything.”

Samardzija appreciated it, but still wanted to do what he could to help the team:

“Little bit of both. … but I respect him looking out for me.”

Samardzija likes the old-school role a starting pitcher plays — he likes to go deep into games, to take control of its outcome as much he can. Perhaps, with that role curtailed and flow shifted, Bochy’s consideration knocked the game out of whack. Albert Suarez, in relief, put a pair of runners in scoring position and Ryan Braun lifted a sac fly to tie the game. Travis Shaw doubled down the right file line for the lead.

The Giants threatened to at least tie the game back up in the eighth when Nick Hundley singled and pinch-hitting Pence worked a walk. Denard Span cracked a single to right, but Domingo Santana got the ball home with a slow-running Hundley not half way there. A sore Pence got the pinch-runner — Ty Blach. Turns out Bochy could’ve used another in scoring position. He didn’t think it mattered:

“It wasn’t hit real hard, you’ve got to give the right fielder credit. … I don’t know who would have made it.”

Up next

The Giants will round out this home stand with Matt Moore on the mound against Matt Garza.

Notes

Joe Panik and Johnny Cueto made rehab starts with Triple-A Sacramento Tuesday. Cueto went 3 scoreless innings, as planned, allowing three hits. … Austin Slater was shagging during batting practice on the field before the game, Bochy said he is 10 days to two weeks away from rehab assignment. … Hunter Pence was removed from the starting lineup, suffering from hamstring tightness.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.