SAN FRANCISCO — Nick Hundley saved a sparkling start from pitcher Jeff Samardzija, lifting a walk-off home run into the first row of the arcade in the 10th inning.
After producing just one hit over the game’s first eight innings, the Giants found a way to squeak out a pair of hits in the ninth to send the game to extra innings before Hundley delivered a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals by blasting his second-career walk off homer off reliever Ryan Sherriff.
In doing so, the Giants snapped a four-game losing streak.
Hunter Pence started the comeback charge in the ninth by hitting a ground ball single up the middle. After Joe Panik moved Pence over to second with a sacrifice bunt, Buster Posey tied the game by reaching down to bloop Cardinals pitcher Tyler Lyons’ low slider over second baseman Kolten Wong’s head.
Despite temperatures that reached more than 100 degrees, Samardzija, who got the ball in place of scheduled starter Chris Stratton (see more below), brought his best stuff. He struck out nine batters, surrendering just one run on two hits over seven innings of work while throwing 112 pitches.
He fanned five-straight batters in the second and third, including the three Cardinals he faced in the latter inning. His lone blemish came in the fourth after he surrendered his first hit of the game to the leadoff batter, Jose Martinez, and his second to Dexter Fowler. Martinez scored on Fowler’s single past Posey at first base after he advanced to second on a wild pitch.
After that, Samardzija retired nine in a row and 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. The only Cardinals hitter to reach base against him after the fourth was Yadier Molina, who drew a walk in the seventh.
But Cardinals starter Lance Lynn proved to be just as filthy on the hill for the Red Birds, tossing eight-shutout innings of one-hit baseball.
Lynn, who entered the game with a 4-1 record and a 2.13 ERA since July 1, faced the minimum number of batters possible (18) between the second and eighth innings.
— The 95-degree temperature at first pitch tied the second-hottest start in the 18-year history of AT&T Park. The thermometer also hit 95 degrees on May 15, 2008. The hottest start-time temperature (97 degrees) was recorded on June 14, 2000.
— Stratton is pitching about as well as the Giants could ask him to for a guy who got plugged into the rotation after posting a 5.11 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Sacramento.
In his last three starts, he’s struck out 10 batters twice and he survived two of those outings without allowing an earned run, tossing 122/3 innings of shutout baseball.
Nevertheless, Stratton got bumped from his scheduled start against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park Saturday, a product of Johnny Cueto’s return to the rotation Friday and Madison Bumgarner’s illness. Instead of throwing Stratton in Saturday’s matinee, manager Bruce Bochy is electing to give the ball to Samardzija on his standard four days of rest because he intends to pitch Bumgarner, who missed his scheduled start on Thursday, Sunday afternoon.
But Stratton isn’t exactly getting bounced from the rotation. If the Giants don’t use Stratton in a long relief situation out of the bullpen on Saturday or Sunday, he will likely start against the Colorado Rockies on Monday, which means that Matt Moore would miss a start and become the odd man out of the rotation for now.
Moore could, however, get a start when the Giants travel to Chicago next weekend for a three-game set with the White Sox.
Bochy is leaning toward pitching Ty Blach on Tuesday and then having Cueto close out the series with the Rockies Wednesday night.
In short, Stratton’s missed start is more a reflection of his flexibility than his ability to give the Giants quality innings as a starter.
“He’s had the most experience of being the swing man even though he’s at a young age, but that’s been his role,” Bochy said. “He’s done such a great job of it, but we don’t think it’s affecting him.”
The Giants manager wants to get Stratton more starts down the stretch so he can give the rookie right-hander a chance to prove his worth before spring training next year.
“He’s going to get his innings in, we just happen to have six starters right now and we’re trying to keep them all going,” Bochy said.
— Austin Slater went 1 for 3 in the first game of his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Sacramento Friday night. Slater is expected to rejoin the Giants lineup during their six-game road trip next week.
— Pablo Sandoval went 0 for 3 Saturday, making him 0 for his last 26 plate appearances.