Brandon Crawford provided the offense Saturday afternoon, guiding the Giants back to .500.
A pair of Crawford run-scoring extra-base hits didn’t come in time to get starter Andrew Suárez a win, but the rookie continued his surge, lowering his June ERA to 2.86 allowing one run over 5-2/3 frames. Along with Crawford, who had been cold since returning from paternity leave, and more stellar work from bullpen standouts Reyes Moronta (W, 3-1, 1.85 ERA) and Tony Watson, Suárez (ND, 2-4, 4.43 ERA) gave San Francisco (39-39) a 5-3 victory over the Padres (35-44) at AT&T Park.
The Giants guaranteed, at worst, a split of this four-game series with San Diego.
The Giants were surprised minutes before the first pitch, seeing southpaw reliever Matt Strahm (ND, 1-2, 2.21 ERA) take the mound for San Diego instead of scheduled starter, right-hander Jordan Lyles. Lyles was pulled due to right forearm tightness, but was listed as the starter until Strahm took the mound for the bottom of the first.
Strahm pitched well, allowing just two hits, one earned run and striking out five over 3-1/3 innings of work.
But San Francisco tagged three Padres relievers for four runs. The breakaway damage was done to right-handed submariner Adam Cimber (L, 3-4, 3.18 ERA), who allowed Crawford’s first big hit, a two-run double in the sixth inning to give the Giants a 3-1 lead.
Crawford ended Saturday afternoon’s game a perfect 3-for-3 — compiling a walk, two doubles, a triple, three RBIs and one run scored. His performance ended an 18 at-bat hitless streak, which he knew he was close to snapping out of:
“Even though it may not have looked that good at times, I did feel like I was seeing the ball well, just my timing might have been a little bit off. It’s just a matter of squaring the ball up, finding a hole, hitting it to as spot where they couldn’t catch it.”
Suárez never faced much trouble, scattering eight hits and inducing three double plays. His only blemish was a solo home run in the fourth inning by right fielder Hunter Renfroe.
Of his effort, the rookie lefty said:
“I didn’t have my slider today, or my glove-side fastball, so we just went with sinker-changeup and got some big double play balls.”
Bochy was pleased with his starter’s performance, saying he’s noticed steady improvement from Suárez:
“His pitches have gotten a little crisper. His fastball, it plays 93 in that ballpark. I think his breaking ball has gotten better up here. He does a good job of holding runners and doing the little things.”
The Giants bullpen was clean for three straight innings until Sam Dyson allowed two runs, one earned, with two outs in the ninth. Dyson was able to work around the rare Crawford blunder to finish the game.
The Giants will finish a four-game series with San Diego Sunday before continuing their home stand against Colorado on Tuesday.
Outfielder Mac Williamson was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento before the game. Austin Slater recalled from Sacramento. … Jeff Samardzija will pitch a rehab start for Sacramento against the Albuquerque Isotopes on Tuesday. Manager Bruce Bochy said:
“We’ll run him up to around 90 pitches there. After that, knock on wood, he’ll pitch for us.”
Hunter Pence will likely start Sunday after appearing as a pinch-hitter Saturday. Pence had made just six starts since returning from the disabled list on June 2. Bochy said:
“It’s just a difficult position because I have, now, really, four guys who can play left field.”