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Longoria homers, Pillar dazzles on defense to keep Giants winning

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Deep into the Dog Days of Summer, a defensive dogfight dictated developments Sunday afternoon, as Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 4.32 ERA) held down the fort to help the Giants (41-48) to a 1-0 win against The Cardinals (44-44).

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

The Giants defense was on display right away in the first, when Stephen Vogt ended the first inning by throwing out Paul DeJong attempting to steal second base. The original call was an out, but the play went under review for several minutes, to the shock of the crowd, before the call eventually stood.

Manager Bruce Bochy on the defense and pitching:

“He [Flaherty] was really good today, basically went fastball, slider and had a great slider going. He was tough, I’ve seen him like that before. He really threw well, and our guys did the same. You saw two pitchers out there that were locked-in – what a game Shark threw, and our defense saved us there in the seventh inning.”

Giants President of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, had praised his club’s defense pre-game:

“Really the defense has been, probably, our most consistent aspect. That helped us early in the season, when we weren’t scoring many runs … And more recently, it’s kind of helped keep things at bay when our pitching has struggled a little bit more.”

Shark gave them the series going 2-1 over the weekend and headed into the All-Star break with the momentum in their favor to continue with the second half of the season. He said he had it working for him today:

“Had a good slider today; sinkers been pretty good for me lately. I only had two strikeouts, so I think the defense was working for me today and obviously let the guys work behind me and had some amazing plays. Just got them back in the dugout as quick as possible and then Longo made it hurt there with that one mistake that the kid [Flaherty] made and he didn’t make many of them, he was pretty good. I’ve faced him twice; I was well-aware of his stuff, so the kid’s going to do well and he’s going to make a ton of money in this game if he keeps doing what he’s doing.”

The Oracle Park crowd caught a scare in the bottom of the third, especially with Bumgarner getting injured last night. Stephen Vogt caught a pitch right at the knee, causing a brief delay, but recovered and suited back up.

Bochy had an update on Vogt:

“He came out, he was hurting. Right now, he’s going for x-rays for his left knee just to make sure it’s okay. I don’t have the results yet, but he took a pretty good shot there and was gradually getting worse during the game, so we had Posey ready to go.”

Kevin Pillar was brilliant in the top of the seventh, racing deep across triples alley from center to rob Paul Goldschmidt of extra bases and, on the very next play, catching a Dexter Fowler fly ball at the fence to the gracious applause of the crowd. Shark praised Pillar’s play in the inning:

“He just closed some ground and then obviously made that diving play. He does it all the time, so I’m not surprised. I’ve seen it for five, six years now and I continue to see it. He loves playing this game and you see it, it’s really apparent when you watch him play.”

Evan Longoria ended the scoreless drought in the bottom of the seventh, sending a Jack Flaherty (L, 4-6, 4.64 ERA) ball over the fence for the only run of the game.

Longoria spoke about going up at bat against Flaherty:

“He didn’t make any mistakes, really, during my first two at-bats. He threw a couple pitches that probably could have been hit, but by-and-large he was on the corners and then at the bottom of the zone. Then my third at-bat was really just his first mistake, breaking ball in the middle of the zone, that stayed up and that’s kind of I guess what you hope to do with those pitches when a guy has it going like that.”

Sam Dyson continued his dominance on the mound, striking out all three outs in the eighth. Closer Will Smith made his signature appearance in the top of the ninth and showed exactly why he was warranted an All-Star spot, drawing a double-play to close the game and secure the series win.

Up Next

Giants closer Smith will head to the All-Star game as the only Giants representative on Tuesday, July 9. Following the All-Star break, the Giants will make their way to Milwaukee to face the Brewers in a three-game series starting Friday.

Notes

Bruce Bochy said pre-game that there is some swelling in Madison Bumgarner’s arm, but that’s to be expected. Bochy also expressed how proud he is of how his ball club bounced back from the first half of the season, saying that they’re playing better ball and putting up more runs. … Farhan Zaidi said pre-game that regardless of the good play recently, they would all like to be in a better spot, saying that they’ve pretty much been playing catch-up after the start they’ve gotten off to. He said the Giants are just like every team out there, evaluating the trade market and without the August trade waiver period, it will be even more of a feverish pitch.

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