Giants bounce back with bats to beat Astros 8-2
AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Andres Torres and the Giants were told by their hitting coach to stay out of the batting cage for a change – yes, skip all those extra early swings.
That bit of rest seemed to do some good for San Francisco’s struggling offense. The high-energy Torres had even more in his tank than usual with arms pumping as he sprinted around the bases and chased down balls in left field. He was a spark in the No. 2 hole.
Torres had an RBI triple, doubled in a run and scored twice as the Giants produced the timely hits they lacked in recent days, beating the Astros 8-2 on Friday night to snap Houston’s four-game winning streak.
“I was rested,” Torres said. “Bam Bam (hitting coach Hensley Meulens) said, ‘When we played we would just go out and hit and didn’t take all the extra swings.’ I told him, ‘If you see me again taking early BP, fine me.”‘
Todd Wellemeyer (2-3) pitched into the eighth inning to help the Giants bounce back from a three-game sweep by San Diego, giving up Hunter Pence’s solo homer in the fourth for one of his two runs. San Francisco improved to 4-0 against the Astros after sweeping a three-game series at Houston to start the season.
Matt Downs had an RBI double, Aubrey Huff and Nate Schierholtz singled in runs and Pablo Sandoval had an RBI groundout for the Giants, who hadn’t produced more than two hits with runners in scoring position in any of their previous six games.
San Francisco also scored two runs on a pair of wild pitches by Felipe Paulino (0-6) in a three-run fifth.
Sandoval left the game after getting hit on the left foot by Jeff Fulchino’s pitch in the eighth. He had a bruise but X-rays were negative, though Sandoval wasn’t sure he would play Saturday.
The Giants finally got going on offense a day after they were one-hit by San Diego’s Mat Latos in a 1-0 loss that gave the Padres their second sweep this season in the division rivalry.
“(Andres) swung the bat well tonight, and he’s fun to watch out there,” Schierholtz said. “He’s always hustling and taking the extra base.”
Runs could be tough to come by again Saturday in a pitching matchup featuring two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum vs. Astros ace Roy Oswalt.
Houston missed a chance for its first five-game winning streak since winning six in a row from Sept. 6-11, 2008, despite having some momentum following a three-game sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis for the first time since April 12-14, 2004.
Paulino, the Astros’ No. 5 starter, is having a rough time. In losing his sixth straight start, he gave up season highs of seven runs and eight hits in his shortest outing of the year at 4 2-3 innings.
“It was a bad day, a really, really bad day for me,” Paulino said.
The Giants beat him twice last season, tagging Paulino for eight earned runs in two innings of a 13-0 Houston loss at AT&T Park last July 3.
“Growing pains is a good word,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “You want to get that consistency where he’s able to put together good start after good start after good start. The stuff is there. When he gets confidence and is able to throw like that, he’s going to be a real good pitcher.”
Wellemeyer matched his season best with 7 1-3 innings. He allowed five hits, struck out four and walked two. Lance Berkman singled in a run off Guillermo Mota in the eighth that was charged to Wellemeyer.
He looked strong coming off a no-decision Saturday against the Mets, his first outing back in the rotation after having his turn skipped. He beat the Astros for the first time in five career starts and 12 overall appearances.
“I knew we were coming to play today and I knew we were going to score runs,” Wellemeyer said. “I could just feel it.”
The Giants improved to 3-0 since they began wearing their new “Orange Friday” uniforms at home.
NOTES: Astros reliever Tim Byrdak received an injection in his lower back in Houston. He was scheduled to fly to San Francisco on Saturday. … Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn’t rule out 2B Freddy Sanchez, coming back from December surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, joining the team Monday or Tuesday in San Diego. Sanchez was traveling Friday to join Triple-A Fresno at Oklahoma City to continue a rehab assignment that began with Class-A San Jose. … Astros closer Matt Lindstrom wasn’t available after pitching five of the previous six days and all three games at St. Louis. Brandon Lyon was to be the ninth-inning guy if there was a save situation. … Mills is from Exeter, Calif., three-plus hours from the Bay Area. He attended Giants games as a kid. “Old Candlestick Park, we used to bring all the blankets and jackets,” he said. Mills had plenty of ticket requests for this series, too.