Pat Burrell stopped on his way to the shower and pulled Pablo Sandoval into a celebratory Panda hug.
”Come on, baby,” Burrell said.
It’s taken a calculated combination of Giants new, like Burrell, and Giants old, like ”Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval, to put San Francisco back in the thick of the playoff chase.
Sandoval homered and drove in four runs while showing signs his swing is finally back on track, Buster Posey hit a three-run homer and the Giants routed the Cincinnati Reds for the second straight game with a 16-5 victory Tuesday night.
”Panda’s back,” Andres Torres said. ”That’s the Pablo, the Panda, I know.”
The victory gave the Giants their first series win in their last four, all against contending teams.
Torres hit a pair of two-run doubles for a career-high four RBIs as San Francisco followed an 11-2 win Monday with a season high in runs to move into a first-place tie with the Phillies for the NL wild card. The NL Central-leading Reds remained 2 1/2 games up on the Cardinals after St. Louis lost at Pittsburgh.
Juan Uribe added a two-run homer, Freddy Sanchez had a solo shot while getting four hits for the second straight night, and newly acquired Cody Ross contributed two singles and an RBI in his first start with the Giants.
Torres doubled in the fourth and the sixth. San Francisco scored 11 or more runs in consecutive games for the first time since June 27-28, 2000, at Colorado — and the first time at home since Sept. 2-3, 1973.
”They beat us up good,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. ”Any time we posed a threat and got close, they ran it up on us again.”
Scott Rolen hit at two-run homer for Cincinnati and Brandon Phillips had a pair of solo homers for his sixth career multihomer game and first of the season. It was the 12th multihomer game by a Reds player in 2010.
San Francisco took a nice lead in the first for the second straight game, getting Ross’ single off Travis Wood (4-2) and then a two-run single by Sandoval. The Panda added an RBI double in the fifth and is showing signs of getting on track after a season-long funk. He received a standing ovation when he reached second on the double, then topped that with a sixth-inning homer.
Sandoval said he takes a deep breath each time he steps into the batter’s box. Something sure is working.
”Every at-bat I calm myself down, relax,” he said. ”It’s just being comfortable at home plate.”
The Giants grabbed a 5-0 lead in the first inning. They had 17 hits in the game and 18 Tuesday, the club’s first back-to-back games with 17 or more hits since July 8-9 1993, at Philadelphia.
All this offense after being shut out 9-0 in Sunday’s series finale at St. Louis and scoring seven total runs against the Cardinals.
”The ball was flying,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ”We’ve had some good at-bats the last two nights.”
San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez was staked to a big lead but didn’t last the five innings he needed to be eligible for the win. Santiago Casilla (5-2) pitched two innings for the victory.
Wood, the Reds’ 23-year-old rookie left-hander, had won his previous four starts with a 2.19 ERA, but lasted only four innings in this one. He was trying to become the first Reds rookie to win five straight starts since Tom Browning in 1985.
Phillips and Rolen each connected in the fifth, when the Reds nearly cleared the fences a third time. Left fielder Pat Burrell made a leaping catch at the top of the fence to rob Jonny Gomes of what would have been his 100th career home run.
”It became a two-possession game there toward the end,” said Rolen, who flied out to end the sixth with the bases loaded.
Cincinnati was without center fielder Jim Edmonds and left fielder Laynce Nix after both were injured in Monday’s loss. Edmonds went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique, while Nix was listed as day to day with a sprained left ankle.
Chris Valaika, recalled from Triple-A Louisville earlier in the day, became the eighth Reds player to make his major league debut this year. He singled in his first career at-bat in the sixth.
Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez was warming up in the bullpen in the fifth when he fielded the ball on Drew Stubbs’ sharp grounder down the left-field line, unaware the ball was fair. It was a ground-rule double. Baker came out to discuss the play with the umpires.
Notes: Baker, back in the Bay Area where he began as a manager with the Giants from 1993-2002, is still weighing an offer of a multiyear contract extension from Cincinnati. … Ross played RF and batted fifth in his first start for the Giants since being awarded to them off a waiver claim from the Marlins on Sunday. … The Reds are considering skipping RHP Edinson Volquez’s next turn in the rotation after he lasted only 2-3 of an inning Monday. Pitching coach Bryan Price has worked up a couple of scenarios with an off day Thursday and also Sept. 2. … Cincinnati won its first two series on this West Coast swing, at Arizona and Los Angeles.