OAKLAND — There was a bit of the old, with Evan Longoria doing the majority of the damage.
There was a bit of the new, with Jandel Gustave and Sam Coonrod both bailing the Giants out of trouble that could have buried them.
And there was another win, this one 5-4 at Oakland Coliseum on Sunday, the Giants moving back to .500 (65-65) and gaining a game on the Cubs, four games back and still on the periphery of the NL playoff picture.
Several times the A’s and their powerful lineup could have turned a nail-biter into a laugher. But it never happened, the Giants buckling down each time and biding enough time for the San Francisco offense to come around, concluding Players Weekend with a two-game sweep – and three of four combined – in the Bay Bridge Series.
The offense awoke in the seventh, when the Giants loaded the bases for Longoria, whose single to left put the Giants up, 5-4. His third-inning solo homer had accounted for his 1,000th career RBI, but that wasn’t enough.
His single followed an 11-pitch Buster Posey at-bat, which finished with Blake Treinen striking him out. In five at-bats, Posey made six outs – included was a double play – and struck out four times. But as was the theme, Longoria picked him up.
Picking up the entire Giants offense was Donovan Solano, who just does not make outs. The infielder raised his average to .349 with a 4-for-4 with-with-a-walk day, constantly pestering the Athletics pitchers.
Just like Gustave picked up starter Logan Webb.
Webb left a jam in the fifth, when, with two outs, he let up a single, hit Matt Chapman and walked Robbie Grossman. The Giants turned to Gustave to get Mark Canha, who had homered twice already.
If the Giants had lost a few more games this season, perhaps Bruce Bochy would have left Webb in to see what the rookie could muster.
Instead, he let the Giants’ bullpen discoveries show off. It took seven stressful pitches, but Gustave struck him out looking with a nasty slider.
Gustave himself got into trouble in the sixth, walking two before being pulled. So it was the next Giants revelation, Coonrod, who bailed him out, inducing a double-play grounder from Chad Pinder – a smooth job by Brandon Crawford to field it and flip it. Coonrod struck out Josh Phegley, and a sprinting Stephen Vogt just managed to corral the pitch and throw out Phegley at first.
Gustave (2.51 ERA) has allowed runs just twice in his 14 games. For Coonrod (2.41), it’s four times in 20 games.
Tony Watson, who had struggled mightily in four tries from Aug. 9-18, tallied his third straight solid appearance, retiring the side 1-2-3 with two strikeouts in the eighth, and Will Smith recorded his 30th save with a bit of drama.
The Giants thought they had won the game when Phegley tried to turn a single into a double, Kevin Pillar throwing him out. But the call was reversed, and Smith had to get Marcus Semien with a runner in scoring position, which he did with a ground out.
Against a better lineup this time, Webb was not as effective. Coming off a five-inning, one-earned debut in Arizona, the Rocklin native, who grew up an A’s fan, came “home” and couldn’t finish Oakland off. He was ahead of hitters throughout, but lasted 4 2/3 innings of four-run ball, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out two.
He couldn’t retire Canha and alternated good innings with bad innings. The A’s three-run second had the Giants working from behind nearly immediately, and after they tied it up, Canha homered to give the A’s the lead.
Fortunately for the Giants, Webb had an able bullpen waiting in the wings.