Berrios solid on the mound as Twins pick up 20th road win
SAN FRANCISCO — Rookie Jose Berrios faced a bases-loaded jam after a pair of walks in the third inning with a couple of proven, veteran hitters due up for San Francisco.
The Puerto Rican right-hander calmly struck out Brandon Crawford, then retired Hunter Pence on a called third strike — and he was on his way to another stellar outing in Minnesota’s 3-2 victory against the Giants on Saturday.
“I found it to be an interesting scenario. I just concentrated on making better pitches, and pitches with better quality,” Berrios said through a translator. “That’s how I survived and the more I can get on it, the more comfortable I get and the more confidence I’ll have.”
Brian Dozier and Kennys Vargas hit home runs to back Berrios (5-1), who struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings to win his second straight start, both on this road trip. He allowed a first-inning home run to Brandon Belt.
Bruce Bochy is baffled by San Francisco’s offensive struggles, yet the manager still believes he has enough talented hitters to break out of this funk.
Minnesota shut down Bochy’s lineup for a second straight day, and it’s the same story of missed opportunities for the Giants.
Crawford and Pence, two key Giants hitters, each struck out three times.
“It’s obvious they’re not seeing the ball very well, either one,” Bochy said. “That makes it tough when you’re in the heart of the order and we have a couple of guys really struggling. That makes it tough to score runs. Those are the guys that you lean on.”
Belt splashed a 3-2 pitch into McCovey Cove for a solo homer in the first inning to put San Francisco ahead. It marked his seventh career homer into the bay beyond the right field wall named for Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and second this season.
Berrios allowed six hits, two earned runs and three walks in his first career appearance against San Francisco. Brandon Kintzler, the Twins’ third reliever, finished with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 17th save in 18 chances.
Giants starter Jeff Samardzija (2-8) struck out six and walked one over six innings, increasing his impressive totals to 65 Ks and two walks in his last eight starts.
But he also has given up six home runs during that stretch. Vargas led off the fourth with his second of the year, and Dozier hit a go-ahead, two-run drive in the fifth.
“Although you like how you feel out there and are OK with the results, you’d like to keep definitely that Dozier ball in the park,” Samardzija said.
Samardzija beat the Brewers his last time out to end a two-start skid but still hasn’t won consecutive outings this season. He had been 4-0 with a 3.67 ERA in his previous five matchups with Minnesota.
Buster Posey doubled and drove in a run on a groundout for San Francisco, shut out 4-0 a night earlier.
Belt’s drive to the water was the 73rd by the Giants and matched Pablo Sandoval for second behind 35 hit by home run king Barry Bonds. There have been 113 overall at AT&T Park.
Twins: After the game, LHP Randy Rosario was optioned to Double-A Chattanooga. … 1B Joe Mauer had much of the day off before entering in the sixth. … Chris Gimenez caught Berrios as Jason Castro rested.
Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner, who bruised his ribs and sprained his pitching shoulder in an April 20 dirt bike accident in Colorado, could face live hitters at some point during a four-game series in Denver beginning Thursday. … 2B Joe Panik was held out of the lineup and isn’t likely to play again until the Giants open a two-game series against Kansas City on Tuesday. Panik injured his left thumb trying to dive for a ball up the middle Thursday. … Mike Morse is still feeling effects from a concussion he suffered in a collision with Samardzija while both were trying to break up a benches-clearing brawl against the Washington Nationals on May 29. Morse did some cardio work Friday but was “foggy” afterward, Bochy said.
The 230-pound Gimenez stole second in the fifth for his fourth career swipe in nine years and first since Aug. 4, 2015, while with Texas and against Houston — with current teammate Castro behind the plate for the Astros.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to do this,” Gimenez said. “They told me before the series I could steal if it’s the right situation. I got pretty excited.”
Left-hander Nik Turley makes his long-awaited major league debut against his former franchise and opposite Giants righty Matt Cain (3-5), who has never faced the Twins or the Rays — the only clubs he is yet to pitch against during his career.