SF Giants claw back to .500 for first time in a month, finish 8-2 against the D'backs in 2020

©The Mercury News

With more than two-thirds of the schedule in the books, the San Francisco Giants haven’t had a winning record since August 1.

For the first time since they were 5-4 more than a month ago, the Giants finally have a chance to change that.

Thanks to a 4-2 series-clinching win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday, the Giants worked their way back to .500 after failing to do so in each of their last four attempts. On the shoulders of a relentless offense and improved bullpen, the Giants continue to push for a playoff berth and are eager to welcome the Seattle Mariners to town on Tuesday.

With a dominant outing on Monday, starter Kevin Gasuman led the Giants to their eighth win over the D’backs in 10 tries this year while a lineup that had struggled against Arizona starter Zac Gallen finally wore him out in a crucial sixth inning rally.

The Giants lost left fielder Alex Dickerson to an injury in the bottom of the fourth inning when he drilled an inside pitch from Gallen off his right knee, but his replacement, Darin Ruf, drove in the go-ahead runs with a two-run single in the sixth and added a double into right center field in the eighth.

Gallen had allowed three runs or fewer in a major league record 23 consecutive starts to open his career and appeared destined to extend the streak through the first five innings of Monday’s game. After overpowering the Dodgers in seven innings of one-hit ball in his last start, the D’backs right-hander gave up just one hit through five innings against the Giants as Mike Yastrzemski’s leadoff single to open the bottom of the first was the only blemish on Gallen’s line.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gallen suffered through the worst inning of his career as the Giants grinded through long plate appearances and scored four times to take a 4-1 lead. Designated hitter Pablo Sandoval and center fielder Mauricio Dubón drew walks against Gallen while catcher Joey Bart, right fielder Mike Yastrzemski, second baseman Donovan Solano and Ruf all drilled singles with exit velocities above 100 miles per hour off the D’backs starter.

The four-run outburst allowed Gausman to earn the win as he enjoyed his best start with the Giants on Monday.

Gausman didn’t face the D’backs in either of the Giants’ first two series against Arizona and the unfamiliarity appeared to play in his favor. The right-hander tossed six innings of one-run ball, racking up nine strikeouts while holding the D’backs to just two hits.

Gausman finished with 20 swings and misses, the most by a Giants pitcher this season, and consistently battled his way back into counts by inducing whiffs with his splitter.

A Giants bullpen that’s been among the best in the majors for the last three weeks allowed one run over the final three innings as David Peralta’s ninth-inning home run off Sam Coonrod was the only damage the D’backs did against three relievers.

Eight weeks after the D’backs were viewed as a strong bet to make the playoffs and the Giants were a candidate to finish last in the National League West, Gabe Kapler’s club has flipped the script. The Giants won all three series against the D’backs this year and are now thinking about a postseason push while Arizona is mulling over its future and considering what moves it must make to better position the team for 2021.

———

©2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)