San Francisco, CA – The Giants made a collective effort and put runs on the board. Something that has been struggle for the last thirteen games, San Francisco did just enough to end their losing skid with a 5-3 win over the Nationals. They put up two runs in the fourth and tied the game before sailing away in the seventh. Hunter Pence’s return was the cherry on top as his energy is contagious.
A short outing for Jake Peavy who tossed four frames, gave up five hits, three runs, walked one and struck out seven. The two-run homer he gave up in the third was partly the reason his day ended quickly. Washington gained a 3-0 lead early and Giants manager Bruce Bochy felt putting up runs was more important than seeing his pitcher go far in the game and Peavy couldn’t agree more.
“Boch managing that like a playoff game with the way we needed to win was one hundred percent the right call,” Peavy said. “And that will happen every time we’re down 3-0 in a playoff game. Our offense needed every opportunity to kick the door down.”
Peavy gave up a leadoff single to start the game but good defense and great pitching allowed him to retire the next three batters to leave the first unscathed. By the second Peavy struck out Jason Werth but threw a wild pitch which allowed him safe at first. He then forced Ryan Zimmerman to hit into a force out and struck out two more batters without giving up a run in two innings.
“Bad pitch to Rendon… Felt we made a good pitch to Harper there but [umpire] Chad Fairchild didn’t think it was a good pitch, he thought it was a ball,” Peavy explained. “The way things have been going, there’s your break. Zimmerman got on it in the next inning and the pitch to Espinosa, how he that ball off the plate with so much authority and the ball wasn’t even going that way.”
A two-run homer by Anthony Rendon in the third changed the game. Peavy retired the first two batters he faced before giving up his first walk of the game to Bryce Harper. Rendon followed with a home run to left field making it a 2-0 game. Washington added on another run in the fourth. Zimmerman led off the frame with a single and Danny Espinosa followed with a RBI double extending the Nats lead 3-0.
In his first game back Pence received a standing ovation and on his first plate appearance he almost went yard. Pence double off the wall to leadoff the second. Lopez issued a free pass to Brandon Belt then walked Peavy to load the bases. But Eduardo Nunez popped out to catcher Pedro Severino to end the threat. San Francisco is 0-for-6 with RISP after two innings.
“A pretty impressive first at-bat,” said Bochy.
“Great team win,” Buster Posey said. “It’s no secret he’s our emotional, spiritual, whatever you want to go with leader and that’s definitely a big boost to have him [Pence] back.”
The Giants got another chance in the fourth and this time Nunez prevailed. Belt led off the frame with a walk. Joe Panik followed with a single and Lopez walked pinch-hitter Mac Williamson to load the bases again. Nunez hit a double to center field driving in both Belt and Panik making it a 3-2 game. San Francisco tied the game 3-3 when Angel Pagan grounded out to first and Williamson scored on the play.
Nunez went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI in his first start as a Giant. He was acquired by the club on Thursday from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for minor league LHP Adalbert Mejia. Nunez is hitting .296 with 49 home runs scored, 12 home runs and 47 RBI this season. He was leading the American League with 27 stolen bases, which was already the most by a Twin since 2012.
“I wasn’t familiar with the first pitcher, I’ve never faced him before,” said Nunez. “The second at-bat with bases loaded with two out I hit the sinker inside. He made a mistake and I took advantage.”
Pence was reinstated from the 15-day disable list today. He missed 48 games with a right hamstring strain while the Giants posted a 26-22 record in his absence. Pence was batting .298 (54-for-181) in 50 games for San Francisco prior to going on the DL. IF Ramiro Pena has been designated for assignment to make room for Pence on the active roster.
“I’m really grateful and really just love everything about playing for the Giants and this beautiful stadium and fans,” said Pence. “After the long road back, to be able to play and contribute and be a part of this city and the great organization we have here, it’s a special moment for me.”
Bottom of the seventh the Giants loaded the bases for the third time today. Another infield single from Posey, a walk to Pence and Belt hit a line drive to right field. Panik’s sacrifice fly to right field scored in Posey to make it a 4-3 game. Washington’s bullpen kept San Francisco’s momentum going, another walk loaded the bases. And reliever Blake Treinen walked pinch-hitter Trevor Brown to extend Giants lead 5-3.
“I didn’t have like half my bullpen,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “We were pitched out the last two or three days. We’re getting some reinforcements in here.”