SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Giants, after being hampered by injuries and inconsistencies for months, are suddenly looking awfully healthy heading into the All-Star break.
Playing the Philadelphia Phillies certainly helps.
Andrew Susac hit a three-run homer to back Chris Heston’s superb start, and the Giants rolled past the last-place Phillies 4-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.
“We’re not where we want to be, obviously, but you just want to hang in there. You’re a nice win streak away from being where you want to be,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Bochy believes any team that wants to win a title needs some surprises along the way. San Francisco (46-43) has had quite a few, and none bigger than a 27-year-old rookie right-hander.
Heston (9-5) allowed one run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out seven and walked none to help send the reigning World Series champions into the break on a high note.
Heston, who wasn’t even on the opening day roster, has shored up a rotation set back by injuries. He has the same record as World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner this season.
“Hopefully we can keep it rolling,” Heston said.
Ryan Howard hit two catchable balls that dropped in the outfield to drive in Philadelphia’s runs.
Buster Posey and Angel Pagan each singled three times, and Susac’s homer highlighted a four-run fourth against Chad Billingsley (1-3) that handed Philadelphia its fifth consecutive defeat.
The Phillies (29-62) set the franchise record for the most losses before the All-Star break, surpassing the previous mark of 61 in 1997.
Ryne Sandberg resigned as manager June 26, and Pete Mackanin has failed to stop the slide as interim manager so far.
“It’s been difficult. But we still have to go out and play hard, try to learn and hope things get better,” said shortstop Freddy Galvis.
The Giants got going by turning three double plays in the first four innings, with Posey starting two of them.
The All-Star catcher, playing first base to get a rest from his regular duties, snagged a bunt by Billingsley in the third and a hard-hit grounder by Maikel Franco in the fourth before smoothly throwing to second each time.
Susac, who started in Posey’s place at catcher, also threw out Cesar Hernandez trying to steal second in the first inning. But his biggest contribution came at the plate — not behind it.
After Brandon Crawford’s RBI single, Susac hit a three-run drive onto the netting that covers the kale garden over the wall in center. It was Susac’s third home run this season.
Santiago Casilla gave up a run in the ninth before getting his 23rd save in 27 chances.
SO MUCH FOR A BREAK
The All-Star break will be anything but for many of the Giants. Bochy is managing the NL All-Star team, which includes Bumgarner, Posey, Crawford and Joe Panik. They were heading to Cincinnati — with no complaints. “It never gets old. I’d do it every year,” Bochy said.
It’s the seventh time the Phillies have been swept in a series of at least three games this season. The Giants hadn’t swept Philadelphia in San Francisco since September 2000.
Phillies: 2B Chase Utley fielded ground balls and resumed running as he continues to progress from a right ankle injury that landed him on the disabled list June 24. He hopes to begin hitting again Friday.
Giants: LHP Jeremy Affledt (strained left shoulder) could make a rehab start before returning this month.
Phillies: Philadelphia starts a six-game homestand against the Marlins on Friday. The post-break rotation is expected to begin with Adam Morgan (1-2, 4.32 ERA), followed by Billingsley and Cole Hamels.
Giants: San Francisco starts a six-game road trip Friday at Arizona. Bochy said the post-break rotation depends on how much Bumgarner pitches in the All-Star Game, but Tim Hudson (right shoulder) will start one of the first five games. Bochy indicated he’ll stick with a five-man rotation but will need to decide which starter is the odd man out now that Bumgarner, Heston, Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy are all healthy. Tim Lincecum (bruised right forearm) is still not ready to rejoin the rotation, Bochy said.