Giants on upward swing going into game vs. Cardinals (May 20, 2017)
ST. LOUIS — Going into the ninth inning of a May 10 game at the New York Mets, the San Francisco Giants were trailing 3-2 and hadn’t rallied for a road win when trailing in the ninth since 2015.
They’ve now done it in two straight on the road, which is one reason they enter Saturday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals with a much-needed boost of confidence.
After scoring four in the ninth inning last week to knock off New York, San Francisco erased a 5-4 deficit in the ninth Friday night on Eduardo Nunez’s two-run double to take a 6-5 win, just its seventh in 22 road games this year.
“We showed what this team has had for years — fight, courage, will,” closer Mark Melancon said of the comeback. “We had all that tonight.”
The Giants (18-25) still have plenty of work to do to catch the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks atop the National League West. But after being 11-23 just over a week ago, they at least have taken steps in the right direction.
The prime reason has been an offense that appears to be hitting its stride, even though the likes of Hunter Pence and Aaron Hill are still struggling. San Francisco collected 13 hits on Friday, getting three each from Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, and two RBIs singles from Denard Span.
“The boys kept battling,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Look how the (ninth inning) came together — good two-strike hitting by Crawford and then the big hit by (Nunez).”
The Giants will need to keep battling against Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez (3-3, 3.88), who has won his last three outings after going 0-3 in his first five starts. Martinez is coming off a 5-3 win on May 13 against the Chicago Cubs, giving up three runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Martinez is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in his career as a starter against San Francisco, winning on June 5, 2016, in his last outing against the Giants as he gave up three runs in six innings of a 6-3 decision. What’s more, Martinez has been a threat offensively, driving in five runs in his last two starts while going 4-for-6.
He’ll be opposed by right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who finally notched his first win of 2017 on Sunday against Cincinnati. Samardzija (1-5, 5.26) permitted nine hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings, fanning eight.
It has been a weird season for Samardzija, who has struck out 63 batters in 53 innings but allowed allowed 54 hits, including seven homers. He’s 4-3 with a 4.32 ERA in 21 career outings against the Cardinals, losing once in two starts last year.
After winning eight of nine games to jump into first place in the NL Central, St. Louis (21-18) has lost three straight. It blew a 4-0 lead Wednesday night in a 5-4, 13-inning loss to Boston and coughed up a pair of two-run leads in Friday night’s setback.
“You feel like you got yourself in the right position a couple of times and we just can’t put it away,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Those are hard to have.”