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Giants hold on for 5-3 win over Reds

The runs came early and the bullpen was strong, leading to a game and series win against Cincinnati

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Pennsylvania slump is in the rear view mirror, as the Giants struck early and outlasted the Cincinatti Reds for a 5-3 game and series win.

Brandon Crawford was the star of the night, going 4-for-4 and scoring two runs. Crawford came into May with a .189 batting average and is sitting pretty (in more ways than one) at .290 in just over two weeks.

His partner in crime, Brandon Belt, kicked off the Giants’ four-run fourth inning with a majestic shot to right that sailed right out into the cove, bringing Belt to eight home runs on the season and eight career splash hits (tied with Pablo Sandoval for second place behind one Barry Lamar Bonds)

Speaking of Sandoval, in a strange new twist, Bruce Bochy opted to pull starting pitcher Ty Blach in the bottom of the fourth to bring in Sandoval with the bases loaded and one out. It was a bold move for Bochy, who tends to prefer to give his pitchers a chance at a win. But not today, and it paid off! Sandoval swung down practically to the dirt to dig out a single to left field and knocked in two more runs.

And he wasn’t done yet. With Gregor Blanco batting and still only one out, Blanco hit a line drive that was knocked down by José Peraza. With still only one out, Sandoval held up and still managed to slide in safe. This loaded the bases once again for Andrew McCutchen, who hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Austin Jackson who had singled earlier in the inning.

As mentioned above, Blach’s night was short, but it wasn’t bad. Though he gave up three runs on five hits in four innings, only one of those runs was earned. With two outs in the top of the third, Jesse Winker hit a single to Kelby Tomlinson. Tomlinson bobbled the ball for an error and was late on the throw, which allowed Winker to reach safely. This was followed immediately by a two-run shot to left field by Eugenio Suárez on a 79 mph changeup.

Tomlinson redeemed himself in the eighth inning, however, when he hit an RBI double to center field to give the Giants an insurance run.

Not that they needed one.

The bullpen was lights out. Pierce Johnson, Will Smith, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland each pitched a scoreless inning and combined for eight strike outs, no walks, and two hits. Particularly impressive were Smith, who struck out two in a nine-pitch inning, and Hunter Strickland, who made Joey Votto forget how to baseball with his third strike.

Okay, I shouldn’t make fun of Votto. Just before that, Buster Posey caught a high-90s fastball to the shoulder pad, into the helmet, and onto the chest protector. Basically Posey’s entire torso will be hurting tomorrow. Votto immediately stepped in and grabbed Posey by the sleeve to help keep him upright. He’s alright.

With this win, the Giants regain a winning record and move within one game of second place in the division as they try not to avoid the sweep tomorrow.