Jack Flaherty finally made a mistake.
And Evan Longoria, who made plenty in the first half, didn’t.
The third baseman swung, and that was all the Giants needed, his seventh-inning home run accounting for the team’s first hit and the only run in a 1-0 win over the Cardinals on Sunday at Oracle Park.
For Longoria, it was his fifth homer in six games, ending the first half by tying the team lead with 12. After a couple of cool months — that followed a freezing year — the 33-year-old has finally begun to heat up.
“I think just when you’re struggling a little bit, you feel like you got to hit every mistake out of the ballpark,” Longoria said after his 1-for-3 day boosted his average to .238, up from .221 on June 29. “And a lot of times what happens is you just don’t hit it at all: You either swing and miss or you just swing too hard and pop it up or hit it in the ground.”
Longoria returned home from a four-homer trip against the Padres and kept it going.
“My approach in San Diego was really, I wasn’t even thinking about hitting home runs,” he said. “I was just trying to find the barrel and just be selective and get good pitches to hit.”
The Giants hadn’t seen many of those Sunday. Flaherty was near perfect through six, and his no-hit bid was legitimate, having thrown just 70 pitches. He was not overpowering but he was effective, the Giants meek until the only at-bat they would need.
“The third at-bat, just really his first mistake,” Longoria said. “Breaking ball kind of in the middle of the zone that stayed up. And that’s what you hope to do with those pitches when a guy has it going like that.”
It’s been a frustrating Giants existence for Longoria since the trade from Tampa before last season. He admitted the spacious park can mess with hitters’ heads. His head knew immediately his 398-foot shot was gone.
“I haven’t had many no-doubters here,” he said with a smile.
Stephen Vogt was removed from the game at the start of the eighth, having taken a foul tip to his left knee earlier. At the time, he fell to the dirt in obvious pain but lasted a few innings.
“Going for X-rays on his left knee,” Bruce Bochy said. “Just to make sure it’s OK. I don’t have the results yet, but he took a pretty good shot there. It was gradually getting worse during the game.”