Baseball / Sports

Resurgent lineup picks up where it left off as Giants pummel Marlins, 9-1

MIAMI--The All-Star break was little help to the San Francisco Giants nursing injuries. Marco Scutaro was out of the lineup Friday, Angel Pagan remains on a slow rehab pace, and Matt Cain was wearing a sleeve on his barking right elbow.

The Giants who took the field, however, looked energized by the four days off, bookending the break with another fireworks show. After hitting two grand slams on the final day of the first half, the Giants opened the second half with a 9-1 win over the Miami Marlins. They had 13 hits at spacious Marlins Park, including homers from Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval.

"I guess everybody had a good All-Star break," Madison Bumgarner said, smiling.

The left-hander was the beneficiary for a second straight game. Bumgarner won Sunday but wasn't pleased with how he pitched. He gave up one run Friday, improving to 11-7. While Bumgarner spent his time off at the All-Star game, the majority of the club spread across the country, clearing heads and preparing for the stretch run.

"It definitely looks like we came back hungry today," Bumgarner said. "That's good to see. It's what we have to do."

The positive signs were all over the box score as the Giants scored nine runs for the first time since May 30. They had six hits with runners in scoring position and scored four times with two outs. Crawford's two-run shot in the second got the ball rolling, and Sandoval's three-run blast in the fifth chased Nathan Eovaldi, who has given up 14 runs in two starts against the Giants this season.

"This is who we were the first 60-plus games," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Then we kind of turned into a different team there. We had some good at-bats (tonight)."

The last 30-plus games of the first half put the Giants in a dogfight in the National League West, and Bochy felt parts of the swoon could have been caused by fatigue. He vowed to watch his players more closely in the second half, starting with Crawford, who played in 92 of 95 first-half games. The shortstop spent the break relaxing with his wife and two young daughters, not thinking much about a second half where the goal would be obvious.

"We all knew we had to play better," he said.

Crawford's first at-bat of the second half might have been his best of the season. He fouled off five mid-90s fastballs from Eovaldi, then wasted a curveball. Crawford lined the 11th pitch of the at-bat--a 96 mph fastball--into the home bullpen. He said he was looking for the heater.

"I actually felt good that I was able to foul (that curveball) off while still looking upper 90s fastball," he said. "That almost locked me in even more."

Most of the lineup looked locked in. Sandoval's homer was his 12th, and Michael Morse and Buster Posey added three hits apiece. Like Crawford, Morse and Posey took a seat in the late innings, along with Bumgarner, who was pulled after just 84 pitches. Bochy saw a worn down group in June and July. He's not going to let the same thing happen as the Giants approach September.

"Once we get to the latter part of July and August, the so-called dog days, we're going to run into some (hot) weather," Bochy said. "It's going to be important I keep these guys fresh."

--The Giants bumped Cain from second to fifth in the rotation, giving him 12 days off between his final start of the first half and first start of the second half. It's not just because Bochy is trying to keep Cain fresh. He said Cain's pitching "elbow has been cranky at times going back to spring training."

The right-hander had a white sleeve on his right arm but denied that he's hurting.

"I'm feeling like I'm feeling," he said.

Cain has bone chips in the elbow but has pitched through the condition for years. He is expected to make his scheduled start Tuesday in Philadelphia.

--Scutaro has started just one of four games since being activated, but it wasn't the back that bothered him Friday. The 38-year-old had a stiff neck but was available off the bench.

--Pagan (back inflammation) has not resumed swinging a bat. The Giants do not expect Pagan, who had an epidural last month, to return to the lineup before the end of the month.

--The team's flight from San Francisco to Miami made an unscheduled stop in Las Vegas on Thursday morning because pitching coach Dave Righetti was fighting a virus and vertigo. All of Righetti's tests came back clean, and he was released from a Las Vegas hospital Friday. Because he cannot fly in his condition, Righetti will miss the entire seven-game trip.

--The Giants have signed 23 players from the 2014 draft, including their first 14 selections.

(c)2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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