Giants rally to beat Pirates 7-6
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Two weeks after helping the United States capture the bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics, San Francisco rookie Nate Schierholtz collected another souvenir.
Schierholtz hit his first major league home run and Rich Aurilia and Scott McClain also homered to help the Giants rally from a three-run deficit to finally beat the Pittsburgh Pirates at home, 7-6 on Saturday night.
“You don’t want a guy up there thinking home run,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. “But he’s been swinging the bat well and when he squares up and gets it up in the air, it’s going to go.”
Bengie Molina had three hits for San Francisco, which snapped a seven-game losing streak at home against Pittsburgh. The Giants, who won for only the third time in 17 games overall against the Pirates, hadn’t beaten the Bucs at AT&T Park since June 8, 2006.
Schierholtz was part of the American team that lost to Cuba in the semifinals before beating Japan to win the bronze medal at the Summer Games in Beijing last month. He returned to the United States and joined the Giants’ Triple-A team in Fresno before being called up last Tuesday.
Schierholtz struck out in the second against Pittsburgh, singled in the fourth and grounded into an inning-ending double-play in the sixth before leading off the eighth with a solo home run off reliever Jesse Chavez. He is the 10th San Francisco rookie to hit his first major league home run this season.
Members of Schierholtz’s family had to barter for the return of the ball, which the young slugger will place alongside the bronze medal at his home for now.
“I wouldn’t really compare those two,” Schierholtz said. “The bronze is a huge deal just as far as being proud of playing for the U.S., but those two things within about a month’s span feels pretty good.”
McClain, the 36-year-old infielder who was called up from the minors on Monday, hit the first pitch he saw from reliever John Grabow for a two-run homer that capped San Francisco’s five-run seventh inning. It came four days after McClain became the oldest position player to hit his first major league home run since 1955.
“That one felt a lot better than the first one, especially to do it here in San Francisco and put us ahead like that,” McClain said. “It felt pretty good. I’m pretty happy about that.”
Geno Espinelli (2-0) pitched a third of an inning for the win while closer Brian Wilson worked 1 2-3 innings for his 37th save in 40 chances despite giving up a run in the ninth. It was the longest save outing by Wilson since he got five outs against Milwaukee on Aug. 25, 2007.
Maholm allowed seven hits over six innings and struck out five but was shut out of the decision after manager John Russell made the call to the bullpen.
“It wasn’t an easy outing for him,” Russell said. “He didn’t have his stuff tonight and he found a way to get out of it. It was the time of the game he had done all he could do.”
The Giants offense, which was stymied for most of the evening, came to life once Maholm left.
Reliever Denny Bautista (4-2) gave up four runs and three hits with a walk, retiring just two batters. Bautista left the game after allowing the tying run to score on a wild pitch followed by a single by Bengie Molina.
John Grabow came in, and McClain followed with a towering two-run home run to left to give San Francisco a 6-4 lead.
“Honestly I didn’t think he was going to be swinging first pitch in that situation,” Grabow said. “But obviously he was hitting first pitch heater and he got it so it’s just one of those things.”
San Francisco had lost eight of its previous 10 games.
Aurilia homered on a 1-0 pitch off Maholm leading off the fourth, ending a streak of 23 consecutive scoreless innings thrown by Pittsburgh pitchers at AT&T Park dating back to last season.
In a ceremony before the game the Giants unveiled a nine-foot bronze statue commemorating the career of Hall of Fame first baseman Orlando Cepeda. Cepeda is the fourth former Giants player to have a statue erected in his honor, joining Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal.
As part of the day-long tribute to Cepeda, San Francisco players wore jerseys bearing the “GIGANTES” logo.
Barry Bonds, baseball’s home run king, attended the event but did not speak to the crowd.
Before the game the Giants purchased the contract of 3B Conor Gillaspie from Single-A Salem-Keizer and outrighted OF Clay Timpner to Triple-A Fresno. Gillaspie was the 37th player overall selected in last June’s draft.