SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants dusted off an old formula at AT&T Park on Saturday night, holding on for a 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks that got them back within 4½ games of first place.

Matt Cain was sharp into the sixth inning, Buster Posey hit a two-run homer, and the bullpen closed it out with four straight tortured innings.

"That's our recipe for success," Posey said.

It's a recipe that was lost as the Giants dropped to fifth place with a stretch of bad baseball over the two months before the All-Star break. But in two second-half games, the Giants have looked like their old selves. They once again look like a threat to make the postseason, having cut two games off the Diamondbacks' National League West lead.

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence tries unsuccessfully to knock the ball out of the mitt of Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero in an
San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence tries unsuccessfully to knock the ball out of the mitt of Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero in an attempt to score in the fourth inning at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Saturday, July 20, 2013. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group) ( Jim Gensheimer )

"We put ourselves in a good situation if we win (Sunday)," Cain said. "We've got good momentum."

Cain had none heading into this start, having thrown just three total innings in his final two starts before the break. But he gave up just one hit in the first four innings Saturday and pitched into the sixth. Cain again insisted that he wasn't hurt before the break, but he did concede to enjoying the time off.

"You just take it easy -- it's the All-Star break," he said. "It was just nice to have rest. It's nice to have a week off. Anybody wants a week off."

The Giants bullpen got four days off over the break, allowing manager Bruce Bochy to repeatedly go to the well during the first two games of this series. A night after using four relief pitchers to get through the eighth inning, Bochy used seven relievers to get through the final four innings. None of the innings was easy.


Advertisement

The Giants had taken an early lead on Pablo Sandoval's RBI double in the first and went up 4-1 when Posey crushed a homer to center in the fifth, his 14th of the season. The Diamondbacks bounced back and loaded the bases in the sixth, but they scored just one run. Using a slider he learned from Javier Lopez two weeks ago, Jose Mijares struck out Adam Eaton to end the threat.

Arizona put two more runners on in the seventh, but Santiago Casilla worked his way out of the inning. Two more runners reached base with one out in the eighth, but Lopez was able to hand a 4-2 lead to Sergio Romo.

The closer had gone 29 straight appearances against the Diamondbacks without giving up a run, but the lead was cut in half when Martin Prado hit an RBI single with two outs. Romo bounced back, striking out Cody Ross to clinch the Giants' fifth win in six games.

"It was a teeter-totter type of game," Romo said, smiling.

It's the type of game the Giants often lost in the first half, but they've been a different team through the first 18 innings of the second half. They remain in fourth place, but they're within 4½ games of first for the first time since July 4.

  • Left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt was removed in the sixth inning after grabbing his left groin while throwing a pitch. Affeldt was initially diagnosed with a strain but went for an MRI late Saturday night and is likely headed for the disabled list. On television replays, Affeldt appeared to tell trainer Mark Gruesbeck that he felt a pop.

    An inning later, Gruesbeck checked right-handed reliever Sandy Rosario after he attempted to stop a comebacker with his pitching hand. X-rays were negative. Romo was hit on the glove by a comebacker in the ninth but said he was fine.

  • Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong threw 35 pitches during a simulated inning and was pleased with how his fractured right pinkie held up.

    "The hand feels good and the arm feels good," he said. "I threw some pitches I wasn't happy with but a lot that I was happy with."

    Vogelsong said he is back in spring training mode in terms of workload. If there are no health setbacks in the next couple of days, Vogelsong will fly to Arizona to throw in a rookie league game. He would then make an appearance with the Class-A San Jose Giants before joining Double-A Richmond.

    For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants.

    Sunday's Game

    Arizona (Randall Delgado 1-3) at Giants (Madison Bumgarner 10-5), 1:05 p.m. CSNBA