PHOENIX – Chris Heston worked six strong innings and Casey McGehee hit a two-run home run to lead San Francisco to a 5-2 win over Arizona (1-2) on Wednesday night at Chase Field.
The win moved the Giants to 2-1 on the young season.
Heston, 26, was called upon to start in place of Matt Cain after the veteran right-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a flexor tendon strain in his right arm. The start was just the second of Heston’s career at the Major League level. He was selected for the call-up after a strong performance during spring training, where he showed he could be part of the Giants’ future plans.
Well, for one night at least, the future was on display as Heston used a hard-sinking fastball with late movement and sharp secondary pitches to work six strong innings. He allowed two unearned runs on three hits while walking two and striking out five to pick up his first career victory.
“I’m just on cloud nine right now, ecstatic that I was able to come in here and help out,” said Heston.
His performance was definitely a pick-me-up for a Giants team that has several members of the starting rotation already dealing with minor injuries. Heston was so strong in his 2015 debut that he is currently slated to start the Giants’ home opener on Monday, April 13 against the Colorado Rockies, unless something else changes.
“That’s exciting if I get the opportunity. I’ll try to make the best out of it,” said Heston, adding that it is something that could possibly happen once in his life.
While his night finished well, it didn’t exactly begin as planned as Heston hit Arizona leadoff man A.J. Pollock with a pitch. To compound matters, with Pollock leading off of first, Heston’s pick-off attempt led to an error that allowed the D-Backs’ speedy center fielder to reach third base. Pollock raced home with the first run of the game on shortstop Chris Owings‘ ground out to short.
He looked a little bit amped up,” said Manager Bruce Bochy about Heston in the first inning.
He settled down from there, striking out Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt for his first strikeout of the game and then getting David Peralta to groundout to short to end the inning.
Heston cruised through the next two innings, not allowing his first hit of the game until there was one out in the fourth inning.
While Heston was holding the Diamondbacks at bay, the Giants’ lineup picked up their rookie starter, scoring twice during the top of the second inning against Arizona starter Jeremy Hellickson.
Brandon Crawford, who is off to a hot start with a .385 batting average through the first three games, led off the second with a single to left. He advanced to second on catcher Hector Sanchez‘s ground out to first. After Heston grounded out to short for the second out of the inning, Nori Aoki and Matt Duffy each contributed RBI doubles to put the Giants ahead 2-1.
San Francisco would extend the lead to 3-1 during the top of the fifth.
McGehee would collect his first extra-base bit of the night with a lead-off double. He would move to third on Justin Maxwell‘s groundout to short before scoring on Crawford’s second hit of the game, an RBI single, which chased Hellickson from the game.
Hellickson was replaced by right-hander Daniel Hudson, who ended the San Francisco rally by striking out Sanchez and getting Heston to groundout.
Staked to a 3-1 lead, Heston looked like he was headed for trouble during the bottom of the sixth inning with the heart of the D-Backs’ lineup coming to the plate.
Goldschmidt led off with a line-drive double to right that Maxwell was unable to catch as he crashed into the wall. Peralta, who launched a three-run home run the previous night off of Ryan Vogelsong, came to the plate with an opportunity to tie the ballgame with one swing of the bat or cut the lead to one.
The Diamondbacks did cut the lead to 3-2 during Peralta’s at-bat, but that was the result of Heston uncorking a wild pitch that moved Goldschmidt to third and a passed ball by Sanchez that allowed the Arizona first baseman to score.
Heston regrouped by recording his fifth – and final – strikeout of the night, getting Peralta to swing-and-miss on a change-up. He finished the inning by getting Mark Trumbo to ground out and Jake Lamb, who also hit a three-run home run off of Vogelsong, to pop out in foul territory to McGehee.
The game remained 3-2 until the top of the ninth when McGehee lined an Evan Marshall offering over the left-field fence, scoring Posey. It was McGehee’s first home run with the Giants.
Santiago Casilla came on in the ninth to preserve the win, recording his second save in as many outings.
Next up for the Giants is a four-game series against National League West rival San Diego. Game one is slated for 6:40 p.m. EST. Tim Hudson will start for the Giants while the Padres will counter with Ian Kennedy.
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