The last time the SF Giants saw the Pittsburgh Pirates, they suffered a walk-off loss on a home run in the ninth inning to finish the series and prevent an Orange and Black sweep - beginning the current tailspin that has seen the reigning National League West champs fall out of the race for the division title and teeter on the edge of contention for any playoff spot.
Friday night the two teams started a three-game series at Oracle Park, with Giants ace Carlos Rodon ready to pitch. The southpaw ace allowed a pair of solo home runs but didn't allow anything else, and the offense steadily produced throughout the game to propel the hosts to a 5-3 victory despite being out-hit.
The Giants struck first, picking up two runs in a second inning that could have been bigger. Mike Yastrzemski opened the frame with a solo homer, his 12th of the season, which was followed by singles from Brandon Crawford and Thairo Estrada. Lamonte Wade Jr laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners - only the second sac bunt by the team this year. Luis Gonzalez then lifted a sacrifice fly down the left field line to plate Crawford, but when the throw went through to the plate Estrada attempted to take third and was caught in a rundown and eventually tagged out to end the inning.
Another big threat yielded just one run for San Francisco in the third. Two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out, and Yastrzemski reached on a fielder's choice when his ground ball was thrown home in the dirt to allow Austin Wynns to score and make it 3-0.
The Pirates went on the board with a home run in the fourth, but a Yastrzemski double driving in Brandon Belt put the Giants back up by three in the bottom of the fifth.
SF Giants nearly blew the lead in the seventh
Rodon allowed his second homer in his final frame, the sixth. In the seventh, against reliever Thomas Szapucki - part of the return in the Darin Ruf trade at the deadline - a leadoff blast made it a one-run game. A single and wild pitch then put the potential tying run in scoring position with no outs, but after a strikeout John Brebbia entered and recorded a groundout and flyout to strand the runner.
Pittsburgh again threatened in the eighth by loading the bases with one out against Brebbia and Alex Young, but Young bounced back for a strikeout and groundout to preserve the lead. In the home half, Evan Longoria walked and Gonzalez doubled him in to increase the lead to two runs - plenty of buffer for Camilo Doval to shut the door comfortably in the ninth.