BY RICK PORCARO
Evan Longoria’s seventh-inning solo home run briefly interrupted a pitchers duel, breaking up Jack Flaherty‘s no-hit bid in the process, giving the Giants all the offense they would need to reach the All-Star break on a high note with a 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Flaherty (4-6) had pitched near perfect baseball for 6 1/3 innings, yielding only a fifth inning walk, before Longoria deposited an 0-1 pitch deep into the left field pavilion for his 12th home run of the season. It was also his fifth of the week following a four homer effort in San Diego during a three game sweep of the Padres in the Giants previous series. Flaherty finished the day striking out six while only allowed two hits in seven innings.
It would be one of only two Giants hits on the day, but with Jeff Samardzija pitching equally brilliantly by only allowing four hits while tossing seven shutout innings, it was enough to send San Francisco into the break with a 7-2 record in their past nine games.
Samardzija (6-7) didn’t allow a hit himself until Yaro Muñoz laced a two out single in the top of the fifth in route to his best pitching performance of the season. After Sam Dyson held St. Louis at bay in the eighth, Will Smith came on in the ninth to shut the door by recording his 23rd save in 23 opportunities.
While the Giants are still in last place, their sprint has moved them within four games of second-place Arizona in the NL West, and only five games out of a Wild-Card spot.
San Francisco returns to action on Friday with Shaun Anderson (3-2, 4.23) scheduled to pitch in Milwaukee. The Brewers have yet to name a starter.
Kevin Pillar had a pair of back-to-back defensive gems in centerfield on plays in the seventh inning to preserve Samardzija’s shutout. He made a sensational diving catch to take a hit away from Paul Goldschmidt in right-center, then chased down Dexter Fowler’s deep fly to the warning track. The Oracle Park crowd responded with a standing ovation after each catch.
With wins Saturday night and today, the Giants broke a tie with St. Louis for the advantage in their All-Time series against the Cards since moving from New York. San Francisco now owns a 349-347 advantage.
Goldschmidt’s home runs against the Giants Friday and Saturday nights gave him 13 in Oracle Park, the most of any opposing player. The long balls were also his 100th and 101st against NL West teams, the most of any active player.
Academy Award nominated musician Kenny Loggins sang the National Anthem prior to the game.