Posey, Crawford lift Giants to another comeback win over Reds with clutch home runs

Brandon Crawford hit his first home run of the season in the ninth inning Sunday

CINCINNATI, OH – MAY 05: Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 5, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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CINCINNATI — The Giants matched a franchise record with an eight-run comeback to capture a series-opening 12-11 victory on Friday in Cincinnati.

The four-run deficit they overcame to earn a 6-5 win in Sunday’s game was half as big, but just as impressive.

“That comeback is as good as the first game because their guy was tough,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He was dealing.”

Catcher Buster Posey blasted a game-tying three-run home run with two outs in the sixth before pinch-hitter Brandon Crawford crushed a two-run shot three-quarters of the way up the right field bleachers to break a 4-4 tie in the ninth.

Cincinnati’s “guy” was reigning National League Pitcher of the Month, Luis Castillo, who started and tossed 5 1/3 no-hit innings to open his outing. By the end of the sixth, the four-run first-inning advantage the Reds gave him had evaporated.

“It’s one of the better changeups I’ve seen and obviously the fastball is electric,” Posey said. “So to be able to score four off of him is a nice accomplishment.”

The Giants became the first team to score more than two runs this season off Castillo, who entered the game with the major league lead among qualified pitchers with a 1.45 ERA. Steven Duggar beat a Reds shift to notch the Giants’ first hit of the game in the sixth and scored the club’s first run on a Joe Panik RBI single.

“It just got to a point where we kept the line moving and set that up for Buster,” Bochy said. “A good inning for us off a tough pitcher. He was the Pitcher of the Month and those guys battled.”

Crawford began the day on the bench as he received a scheduled day off, but entered to face Reds closer Raisel Iglesias after Posey doubled with one out in the ninth. After going 129 at-bats between home runs, Crawford finally hit his first of the year and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Giants.

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it that I haven’t had one yet,” Crawford said. “Hopefully it kind of opens the floodgates a little bit.”

The Giants’ second come-from-behind win of the weekend highlighted a resilient effort from starter Jeff Samardzija, who allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs to Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker and Derek Dietrich on three consecutive pitches in the bottom of the first. After giving up five hits in the opening frame, the right-hander settled in and finished his day with four consecutive hitless innings.

“It’s not a fun spot to be in,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to grit your teeth and get out of it what you can.”

Samardzija became the first Giants starter to allow back-to-back-to-back homers since Brett Tomko did it against Adrian Beltre, Juan Encarnacón and David Ross of the Dodgers on April 18, 2004 in San Francisco.

Both Winker and Dietrich hit their home runs farther than 400 feet, but Suárez’s two-run shot to open the scoring barely snuck over the glove of Duggar who leaped in an effort to rob the ball along the wall in the right field corner.

“My expression probably gave away how I felt about it,” Samardzija said. “I’ve said it before, it’s the Great American Small Park. You’ve got to not quit and understand it’s the same size for both teams.”

Samardzija had allowed just three combined home runs in his first six starts of the year before the Reds exploded for three in the first on Sunday. While his ERA climbed nearly half a point, Samardzija’s 3.16 ERA through seven appearances remains the best of all Giants starters.

“Samardzija did a great job, he gave up four really quick and then settled in,” Posey said. “That could have gotten out of hand very easily, so give him credit.”

The Giants eventually broke through with Posey’s three-run homer in the sixth, which marked his first opposite field home run since June 22, 2017 when he hit a 311-foot flyball that barely cleared the right field wall at SunTrust Park against Braves pitcher Jaime Garcia.

Posey’s homer was also just the third home run hit off Castillo this year, who began his professional career in the Giants organization.

The Giants traded Castillo to the Marlins in a December 2014 deal that brought Casey McGehee to San Francisco to replace Pablo Sandoval as the team’s starting third baseman after Sandoval departed for Boston in free agency. Castillo had never pitched above Low-A Augusta and was not considered a top prospect, but he’s now a critical part of Cincinnati’s rotation.

“The starting pitcher was pretty tough,” Crawford said. “It was nice to not get frustrated by a few at-bats off of him first.”

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