By Troy Nelson
Aubrey Huff must really love his wife. Huff told Baubi he would hit a home run for her birthday Thursday — and then went and jacked three! As a result, the San Francisco Giants scored a season-high 12 runs and blasted the St. Louis Cardinals 12-7 to take 3-of-4 from the Redbirds at Busch Stadium.
The Giants finished their seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record and are 18-17 overall away from AT&T Park.
When the club left San Francisco last week, they were reeling from the loss of star catcher Buster Posey, who suffered a season-ending leg injury against the Marlins two days prior.
While last week’s plane trip to Milwaukee was as quiet as a funeral, tonight’s plane ride back to the Bay Area will be more like a Greek wedding for a Giants team that has once again showed that it can overcome adversity — no matter how great.
San Francisco is getting big time contributions from unknowns like Brandon Crawford and Nate Schierholtz, who both rose to the occasion this past week. (Crawford hit a grand slam Friday and Schierholtz came through in the clutch — twice — Wednesday night.)
Huff also joined the party, waking up from a season-long slumber that saw his batting average dip down to .219.
The Giants first baseman, who signed a two-year, $22 million deal over the winter to stay with the defending World Series champs, said he woke up Wednesday and told himself it was a new month, a new season. He promptly went out and blasted his first home run in 80 at bats in Wednesday night’s win over the Cards and then went yard not once, not twice, but three times on Thursday. Huff finished the night 4-for-5 with a career-high tying 6 RBI.
It didn’t look too promising early on for Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez, who fell behind 3-0 after the first three innings. But Dirty regained his composure long enough for the Giants offense to wake up in the fourth inning, when Huff hit his first dong, a 2-run shot off Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, who was making his Major League debut.
Huff’s home run was the first hit allowed by Lynn.
Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa decided to push Jaime Garcia’s start back a day in favor of bringing up Lynn, who was pitching on just three days’ rest. Did LaRussa think that a mediocre minor league pitcher could handle a Giants offense that is rated near the bottom in nearly every offensive category in the National League? Maybe. If so, he quickly discovered that the Giants players weren’t having any of that. Not on this night.
Andres Torres went 3-for-5 with a double, three runs scored and two runs batted in and Freddy Sanchez hit a three-run bomb and finished with four ribbies. Even Jonathan Sanchez got into the act, roping a ground rule double in the 6th inning. The Giants collected 11 hits on the night and have smacked 27 hits in the past two games.
The only real blemish on the night belonged to reliever Guillermo Mota, who allowed a grand slam to Colby Rasmus in the 7th inning. Mota’s ERA climbed from 3.16 to 4.39.
•It was exactly 48 years ago Thursday that Willie Mays had a three-homer night. Huff became the 15th Giant to blast three home runs in one game.
•Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval will begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday in San Jose. Sandoval will play two games with the Class-A affiliate and then go down to Triple-A Fresno for three more rehab games. The Giants could activate Sandoval as early as Thursday when the team hosts the Cincinnati Reds for four games.
•Left-hander Barry Zito is also slated to make a rehab start. He’ll pitch on Monday with the Class-A San Jose Giants.
•Rookie first baseman Brandon Belt says his wrist is feeling better. Belt was hit there by a pitch from St. Louis reliever Trever Miller Tuesday. He did not swing a bat Thursday but did play catch and take grounders before the game.
•Former Giants third baseman Ryan Rohlinger, who was waived by the team last week, has signed with the Colorado Rockies. He has been assigned to their Triple-A team.
•Tim Lincecum narrowly missed winning NL Pitcher of the Month honors for May. Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens took the honor after going 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA and 1.008 WHIP in the month. Lincecum was 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA and 1.036 WHIP in May.
Final score: SF 12, STL 7
Winning pitcher: Sanchez (4-3)
Losing pitcher: Lynn (0-1)
Save: Affeldt (1)
Game ball: Huff (4-for-5, 3 R, 6 RBI, 3 HR)
Top play: Huff’s 2-run HR in the 4th to get the Giants on then board
Giant homers: Huff 3 (6), F.Sanchez (3)
Giants’ record: 31-25, 1st place, 0.5 game ahead
Streak: Won 2
Next up: COL at SF, Friday, 7:15 p.m. PDT
TV/Radio/Web: CSN Bay Area, KNBR 680 AM, sfgiants.com
Starters: Matt Cain (3-4, 3.88) vs. Juan Nicasio (1-0, 0.00)
Venue: AT&T Park
See Related: Giants Archive