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Jeff Samardzija tries to one-up Bumgarner in masterful Giants win


Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports


Shark and Bum and pray for runs.

The Giants can win on days their veterans get the ball. With a rotation three-fifths rookie, the remaining games are the ones that figure to decide their wild-card fate.

Jeff Samardzija was brilliant Saturday, as excellent as any Giants pitcher has been since … Thursday’s Madison Bumgarner start. Samardzija allowed two hits and one run in eight innings, shutting down a powerful Phillies lineup in a 3-1 Giants victory at Oracle Park in front of 39,106.

The Giants (58-60) will try to take three of four in the series Sunday afternoon. They moved to 3 ½ games behind Milwaukee for the second wild-card slot before the Brewers played Saturday.

Corey Dickerson – him again – crushed a two-out homer in the first inning, and no Phillie reached base again until a harmless Cesar Hernandez – him again – bloop with one out in the seventh. It was 20 up, 20 down between those batters, and Hernandez was quickly erased by a double play. Two days after Bumgarner one-hit the Phillies through seven, Samardzija tried to one-up him by two-hitting them for three outs more.

Samardzija struck out five and had (just) 12 swinging strikes in 103 pitches. He pitched to contact and did it well, a mid-90s fastball and an effective cutter doing the bulk of the work.

Shark Week has turned into Shark Month and a Half. In eight starts since July began, Samardzija has pitched 50 2/3 innings and surrendered 11 runs (1.97 ERA). His season ERA has plunged nearly a full run, from 4.52 to 3.55, and he’s saved a bullpen that often has needed saving.

Will Smith recorded the final three outs to get his 28th save. A Sean Rodriguez pinch-hit single made Bryce Harper the potential tying run with one out in the ninth, but the star who turned down the Giants went down swinging.

Harper couldn’t quite nail his dismount. After his two-homer explosion Friday, the closest he would come was a 357-foot lineout to Austin Slater in the sixth, the right fielder running it down near Triples Alley.

The Giants offense did not need to do much to make Samardzija’s work stand up, and it only required a couple swings.

After Dickerson’s first-inning homer, Evan Longoria answered with a second-inning, two-run shot that gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. It was Longoria’s first since returning from his plantar fasciitis IL stint and first since July 12, a welcome sign for an offense that has not been the same without him.

Kevin Pillar added his team-leading 15th dinger in the fifth, off starter Vince Velasquez, to provide the final cushion.

Conner Menez will get the start Sunday, hoping his third big-league appearance will be better than his second (five runs in six innings). Tyler Beede has an 8.38 ERA in his past four starts. It’s a 7.76 ERA over seven starts for Shaun Anderson, who will miss a start with a blister.

Shark and Bum and pray for runs.

 

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