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Morse homer leads Giants over Indians

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Giants left fielder Michael Morse remembers one thing in particular he learned from Barry Bonds during spring training.

When it comes to hitting home runs, it's not how hard you swing. It's how often.

Down 0-2 in the count in his at-bat leading off the fourth inning Friday night, Morse forgot about the two monstrous home runs he'd hit in his previous game and just tried to make contact. Turns out, the ball went over the fence anyway.

Morse smacked his third home run in the last two games to back the strong pitching of right-hander Tim Hudson, propelling the Giants to a 5-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians in the opener of an interleague series.

Kicking off a six-game homestand, the Giants extended Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco's streak of winless starts to 17, getting to him for four runs on five hits, including Morse's sixth home of the season, a solo shot in the fourth inning.

"I wasn't trying to do too much," assured Morse, who also had a sacrifice fly and now leads the Giants with 17 RBIs. "One thing Barry told me in spring training: Just go up there and get your swings. You'll hit the ball."

Center fielder Angel Pagan singled twice and scored two runs, and right fielder Hunter Pence drove in a pair of runs with a triple and a single, as the Giants snapped the Indians' two-game winning streak.

Hudson (3-1) limited the visitors to four hits and one run over seven innings. He walked two -- his first two walks of the season after a stretch of 30 2/3 innings (115 batters) without one -- and struck out five while evening his career interleague record at 18-18.

The seven-inning stint was the veteran's fifth in a row of that length or longer this season. He is one of just five pitchers to have accomplished that feat in 2014.

"Obviously pitching deep is important to any ballclub," said Hudson, who entered the game with a 6.33 career ERA against the Indians. "I'm a pitch-to-contact kind of guy. I've been able to keep my pitch count down."

Hudson's first walk came on the fourth batter he faced, Indians cleanup hitter Carlos Santana. Afterward, the veteran seemed almost relieved to get what he considered to be a somewhat meaningless distinction out of the way.

"It was a nice streak, but obviously it's not going to impact how I pitch," he said. "It was fun not to walk anyone, but that's not the way I am."

Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt pitched around a walk and a single in a scoreless eighth inning and fellow lefty Javier Lopez turned in a hitless ninth for the Giants, who have beaten the Indians in six of their last seven meetings.

"Unfortunately, good," Indians manager Terry Francona responded when asked to assess Hudson's performance. "That's what we've seen for a long time. He knows how to pitch."

Slumping third baseman Pablo Sandoval, demoted earlier in the day from third to sixth in the Giants' batting order, tripled off Indians left-handed reliever Josh Outman and scored San Francisco's final run in the seventh.

The Giants out-hit the Indians 7-5.

The loss evened the Indians' record in interleague play this season at 2-2. They had won two of three from San Diego at home earlier this month.

Carrasco (0-3) struck out six in six innings and settled down after having allowed three runs on four hits in the first three innings. The only hit off him in his last three innings was Morse's home run.

He gave up a total of five hits and one walk in his six innings, and saw his ERA drop from 7.31 to 6.95.

"He gave up a couple of hard hits to their first two batters (Pagan and Pence) and he made that one mistake to Morse on 0-2," Francona said in giving a generally favorable report on Carrasco's outing. "Other than that, he got deeper in the game than he has been."

First baseman Nick Swisher, who began the night with a .750 career batting average against former teammate Hudson, had two of Cleveland's five hits and drove in its lone run. Second baseman Jason Kipnis also had two hits for the Indians, whose first three hitters in the lineup went 5-for-12 while the last six went 0-for-21.

Pagan helped give Hudson an early cushion with leadoff singles in the first and third, scoring runs in both innings.

Pagan opened the Giants' scoring in the bottom of the first when Pence belted Carrasco's seventh pitch for an RBI triple. Three batters later, Pence scored to make it 2-0 on a sacrifice fly by Morse.

The Indians cut the deficit in half in the third on a triple by center fielder Michael Bourn and an RBI single by Swisher.

In the bottom of the third, Pagan scored after he singled, stole second and came on an RBI single to right by Pence.

Morse's home run, a blast to right-center field, led off the fourth and made it 4-1.

NOTES: Giants RH Tim Hudson's 30 2/3 inning, season-opening streak of not allowing a walk was the longest in franchise history. ... The last Giants pitcher to go at least seven innings in his first five starts of a season was RH Livan Hernandez, who did it in six straight outings in 2002. ... RF Hunter Pence and 3B Pablo Sandoval had triples for the Giants, who had totaled two triples in their first 22 games. ... Both previous Indians-Giants series at AT&T Park resulted in three-game sweeps. Cleveland won the first in 2005, with San Francisco getting even in 2011. ... Before Friday's series opener, the Indians had never played an interleague game in April. ... The Giants had the major league's second-worst record in interleague play last season (6-14) and the third-worst over the last two seasons (13-22).
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