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Giants eye rare road sweep of Pirates

Sportsnaut
Jun 17, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Luis Gonzalez (51) makes a sliding catch for an out against Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Diego Castillo (not pictured) during the eighth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants are on a fairly good tear — they have won six of their past seven games, including a 2-0 victory against the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday in the opener of a weekend series.

The Giants need a win Saturday or Sunday to not only clinch their third straight series overall but also clinch a series win against Pittsburgh for the first time since July 2017, having lost or tied six sets in a row.

San Francisco’s Friday victory was fairly pristine. Carlos Rodon pitched eight scoreless innings, Luis Gonzalez and Joc Pederson homered and Pittsburgh was held to four baserunners — two walks and two singles.

Gonzalez, a rookie, went 1-for-3 with a walk while batting leadoff, with his homer opening the game. He said he doesn’t alter his approach while hitting atop the order, which he has done six times this month.

“Trying to see a little bit more pitches maybe, but that first pitch that you see might be the best one, so I’ve got to be ready from the get-go,” Gonzalez said on NBC Sports Bay Area.

Returning home didn’t provide a spark for the Pirates. They lost their first seven games on their just-concluded road trip before salvaging a 6-4 win Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Then they ran into Rodon.

“He was just sharp throughout the whole game,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.

But this wasn’t a one-game thing.

Dating to their most recent home series and including the Friday game, the Pirates have lost 10 of 11. In those 10 defeats, Pittsburgh has scored just a combined 21 runs, and they managed one or no runs in five of those contests.

On Saturday, San Francisco left-hander Alex Wood (4-5, 4.11 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pittsburgh left-hander Jose Quintana (1-4, 3.53).

Wood is coming off a 6-2 win in a strong outing Monday against the Kansas City Royals. He gave up two runs on four hits in six innings while striking out five and walking one.

Wood retired the final 10 batters he faced and reached just 80 pitches, but he didn’t go longer because he had to wait out a long Giants rally in the bottom of the sixth.

“I was going to go back out, but I didn’t know how much longer that inning was going to go, so we just figured (we would) give (reliever Mauricio) Llovera enough time to warm up and get a clean inning and take it down from there,” Wood said. “It worked out.”

Wood is 5-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 12 career appearances, 11 of them starts, against the Pirates.

Quintana has lost his past two starts, but he is coming off an uncharacteristically tough one. On Sunday against the Atlanta Braves, he allowed four runs and six hits — half of those hits were homers — in five innings while striking out four and walking one.

Adam Duvall accounted for two of those three homers, leaving Quintana dejected.

“The second homer for Duvall (a 420-footer in the fourth inning) was tough for me,” Quintana said. “It was a good pitch, exactly what I want, down and away. He pulled it really good, made a really good swing to get a homer to right field.”

Against the Giants, Quintana is 1-3 with a 4.13 ERA in five career appearances, four of them starts.

–Field Level Media