AN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pablo Sandoval isn’t getting regular at-bats these days, but he’s making the most of his opportunities.
Sandoval homered and doubled in his second three-hit game this season, scoring the go-ahead run on Kevin Pillar’s two-out single in the eighth inning to lift the San Francisco Giants over the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 on Sunday.
Sandoval hit a two-run, opposite-field homer to left in the first off Tyler Mahle that tied the score 2-2, his sixth home run this season. He singled in the sixth.
Sandoval was in the lineup at first base to give Brandon Belt, who is experiencing right knee inflammation, some extra rest.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Sandoval affords him that luxury.
“He’s one of those guys who can sit and come up there and give you a good at-bat, whether it’s pinch hit or he gets his starts,” Bochy said. “The guy just has a knack for coming through when you need him.”
San Francisco trailed 5-4 when Evan Longoria singled off David Hernández (0-2) leading off the eighth. Sandoval doubled, Mac Williamson hit a run-scoring grounder and Pillar singled in front of center fielder Nick Senzel for his team-leading 22nd RBI. Sandoval slid home as the rookie’s throw from about 260 feet was up the third-base line.
Sandoval also had a three-hit game at Toronto on April 23. He was released from a $95 million, five-year contract with Boston two years ago, and the Giants are paying him the $555,000 major league minimum.
Belt made a big contribution, too, coming in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and hitting a tying, two-run homer — his sixth — on a hanging curveball from Mahle.
Reds manager David Bell said acknowledged he had Zach Duke available to face Belt, but he wanted to give Mahle a chance to get through the inning.
“We’ve talked about him getting stronger as the game goes on and we liked the way he was throwing,” Bell said. “He’ll continue to get opportunities like that.”
Mahle allowed four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He is 0-5 in eight starts this season.
The Giants overcame three deficits on Sunday.
Pillar said the team’s 12-11 comeback win against the Reds on May 3, in which the Giants rallied from an eight-run deficit, was a turning point.
“I think from that point on we’ve swung the bats real well, top to bottom,” Pillar said. “It’s just needed a timely hit once in a while, and today we got a couple of those.”
Tony Watson (2-0) won despite forcing in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk to Tucker Barnhart in the eighth. Will Smith struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 10th save in as many attempts, and the Giants avoided a three-game sweep.
Madison Bumgarner allowed four runs — two earned — and eight hits in six innings. He lowered his ERA from 3.99 to 3.88.
Senzel hit an RBI single in the second and Yasiel Puig homered for the second straight day, a sixth-inning drive that gave him seven this season. José Iglesias had a two-run single in the first.
Puig arrived in the clubhouse Sunday morning sporting a platinum blonde Mohawk. “Between last night and this morning?” Bell said when asked if he’d seen Puig’s new hairdo. “Wow, I haven’t seen that yet.”
Reds: OF Jesse Winker, who missed two games last week with left quadriceps tightness, pinch hit in the eighth and grounded into a forceout.
Reds: Sonny Gray (0-4, 4.15 ERA) is to pitch Tuesday’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs. The Reds are 2-6 in his eight starts.
Giants: Rookie RHP Tyler Beede (0-1, 18.69) starts Tuesday against Toronto, seeking his first big league win. He allowed seven earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his only start this season.