SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Eduardo Nunez drove in Brandon Belt on a fielder’s choice grounder with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and the San Francisco Giants beat the Oakland Athletics 2-1 on Friday night.
Brandon Crawford homered to leading off the second inning, not long after making a sparkling defensive play to help the Giants to their fourth straight win.
Belt singled off Ryan Dull (2-1) leading off the ninth. Hunter Pence doubled off the right-field wall to move Belt to third before Crawford was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Nunez followed with sharp grounder to shortstop Richie Martin, who threw to second base for one out but the relay to first was late.
Crawford’s second home run of the spring gave the Giants an early lead and came after the two-time Gold Glove shortstop robbed Khris Davis of an infield hit in the top of the second. Davis, back in the A’s lineup after sitting out nearly a week with a quad injury, hit a grounder to deep short. Crawford ranged to his far right to get to the ball then made a strong throw to first for the out. Crawford made another defensive gem in the ninth when he threw out Ryan Lavarnway with the bases loaded to end the game.
San Francisco right fielder Hunter Pence added his own defensive gem in the fourth when he made a tumbling catch on Matt Joyce’s sinking liner.
The A’s tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the eighth before the Giants scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning.
San Francisco starter Jeff Samardzija allowed one hit over five innings, the second straight strong start for the Giants right-hander, while Denard Span added two hits.
Samardzija, who entered with a 7.12 ERA, struck out six, walked one and only allowed one runner past first base.
Jharel Cotton started for Oakland and gave up five hits over four innings, walked one and struck out two. The A’s have lost five straight.
A’s reliever Santiago Casilla received mixed greetings when he entered to pitch the fifth. The former Giants closer, who signed with Oakland this offseason, struck out two of the four batters he faced and allowed one hit.
Athletics: Davis was hitless in three at-bats in his return to the lineup for the first time since suffering a quad injury March 22. Oakland’s cleanup hitter jogged slowly to first base on the grounder to Crawford in the second, but showed no lingering effects from the injury.
Giants: Veteran infielder Jimmy Rollins was released so that he can pursue opportunities with other teams. The 38-year-old Rollins hit .119 this spring. … Manager Bruce Bochy announced before the game that Matt Cain would be the fifth starter in San Francisco’s rotation. The Giants had considered going with left-hander Ty Blach in the No. 5 slot but instead chose Cain, who had a 7.82 ERA in seven spring appearances. … Samardzija has pitched nine consecutive scoreless innings. … Derek Law pitched one inning for the win.
ECK REJOINS A’S
Dennis Eckersley has rejoined the A’s as a special assistant to team president Dave Kaval, the ballclub announced. The 1992 AL Cy Young Award winner – who holds the franchise record with 320 career saves – will join another former A’s star, Rickey Henderson, in serving as an ambassador for the team in the community. “I have a lot of fond memories growing up in the Bay Area and playing for the A’s,” Eckersley said in a statement released by the team. “They were some of the greatest years of my career.” Eckersley later tweeted that he also plans to continue in his role as a radio broadcaster for the Boston Red Sox.
The teams conclude the three-game Bay Bridge Series in Oakland on Saturday. Tyler Beede will start for the Giants, while right-hander Andrew Triggs goes for the A’s.
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