Blach, Longo power Giants to third-straight series win

Sunday’s afternoon tilt at AT&T Park figured to be a pitchers’ duel.

Ty Blach (W, 2-3, 4.10 ERA) brought a 1.42 ERA through six starts against the Dodgers (12-15) into the matchup. And the last time Kenta Maeda (L, 2-1, 3.76 ERA) started a game against the Giants (14-14) he shut them down in no uncertain terms, pitching five scoreless innings and striking out 10.

But either Maeda woke up on the wrong side of the bed or San Francisco’s offense didn’t get the memo, because the orange and black put the screws to the Dodgers right-hander from the start and never let up, taking a 4-2 victory. This gives the Giants three straight series victories, something they haven’t done since last May, moving them back to .500.

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

In the first inning Buster Posey drove the first pitch he saw to the wall at the 382-marker in left field for a double, which Brandon Belt followed with a walk to bring up Evan Longoria.

Longoria sent a 2-0 slider down the left field line into the corner that looked to be good for three bags and a pair of RBI’s, but a raucous crowd of 42,020 let out a collective groan when a replay showed that the ball was foul by mere inches — if that. But Longoria had a better idea anyway. He smacked the next pitch, another slider, into the bleachers in left-center field to get the Giants on the board first with a three-run homer (6).

Longoria, who entered the four-game series batting .222 with four home runs and nine RBIs and finished it at a .247 clip with 15 RBIs, said:

“I was trying not to think about the play before that, and just stay in the at-bat.”

He said he felt like his two-out, bases clearing double in the seventh inning of Saturday’s evening game put him in a better mindset to swing the bat moving forward:

“Yesterday was I think a monkey off my back, getting that big hit late in the game. I felt like I’d come to the plate a bunch here at home with an opportunity to do some damage and just wasn’t able to come through, so that was kind of weighing on me a little bit. Just being able to get that one out of the way yesterday I think freed up my mind and allowed me to go up there [today] a little bit more relaxed.”

San Francisco is now 11-3 when they score first.

Skipper Bruce Bochy was glad to see the early offense Sunday:

“You always want to score early, but a three run homer is something that can really jumpstart a club. We had a long day yesterday and it’s a game that you do want to score first [in] and get on the board. Both teams had to be tired today, so you’re doing all you can to get those early runs.”

Posey ignited another rally in the third to add one more when Belt doubled him home after Maeda issued the All-Star catcher a free pass, increasing the Giants lead to 4-0.

Blach dealt six solid innings for the Giants. Where Maeda spent each of his six innings in the stretch, Blach took a two-hit, one-walk shutout into the sixth before surrendering his first hard contact of the game, a double down the left field line off the bat of Chris Taylor . He gave up an RBI single to Kiké Hernández to follow, which got the Dodgers on the board, but they scored no more in the inning.

Of his performance, Blach said:

“We were able to execute a lot of pitches, move the ball in and out, and the defense made some awesome plays.”

Bochy was more emphatic about his lefty’s success:

“He’s just so on top of his game. I think he realizes he’s got to focus every pitch and he just does a great job of that. More than anything, too, the last couple starts he just wanted to get improvement get back to who he was, and he did that today.”

Blach left the game after throwing just one pitch in the seventh. Max Muncy, who had replaced Cody Bellinger at first the inning before, shot a grounder to Longoria and barely beat out the throw at first, spurring Bochy to swap Blach out for Sam Dyson.

Dyson coaxed a ground out from Austin Barnes but pinch-hitter Joc Pederson singled home Muncy to add a second run to Blach’s tally for the day and make the score 4-2.

Muncy would be the last Dodger to make it home before the team got on a jetliner headed for LAX.

Tony Watson put up a zero in the eighth, teeing up the save for Hunter Strickland (S, 7-9, 1.32 ERA), who produced a 1-2-3 finish.

Up Next:

The Giants start a three game series with San Diego (10-19) Monday at AT&T Park, with first pitch at 7:15 p.m. Right-hander Jeff Samardzija (1-1, 6.23) is slated to face off against Padres rookie Eric Lauer (0-1, 18.00).

Lauer was baptized by fire in Colorado in his debut on Tuesday. The 22-year old southpaw didn’t see past the third inning as the Rockies chased him from the game after he gave up six hits and seven runs, including a homer to Trevor Story. The Shark’s last outing wasn’t much better, though. He got touched up by the Nats on Wednesday for eight hits and six runs, including a three-run bomb off the bat of Matt Adams, and came out after just 3-2/3 innings.

Notes:

With Sunday’s win against LA, the Giants are 6-4 against the defending NL West Champions, whom they will not see again until June. …The Giants expect Andrew Suarez to be recalled from Triple-A to start Tuesday’s game against the Padres, but he’s likely to be sent back down the following day as reliever Will Smith, who’s been recovering from Tommy John surgery since last year, is expected to return to the club Wednesday.


Julie Parker is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @JPWhatsername on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.