Belt homers, Giants finish sweep of Rays to win 8th straight
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) The way the San Francisco Giants are playing lately, even a sloppy defensive performance couldn't cool off the NL West leaders.
Brandon Belt homered and Joe Panik snapped an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single, helping the Giants extend their winning streak to a season-best eight games with Sunday's 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
''We're just playing the way we play,'' pitcher Jake Peavy said.
''We just come out and play the best team game and have the best team approach. ... Don't get too high, don't get too low,'' Peavy added. ''We've found a nice little run of consistency to be able to pull off some really tight ballgames.''
Peavy pitched six solid innings and Derek Law (2-1) worked a scoreless seventh in completing a three-game sweep at Tropicana Field. Belt hit his team-leading 10th homer off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, while Panik delivered in a key situation for the second straight day with his run-scoring single against Xavier Cedeno (3-2) during a four-run eighth.
Panik is just 2 for 14 through three games of a week-long road trip, but both have broken late-inning ties. His three-run, ninth-inning homer was the big blow in Saturday's 6-4 win over Tampa Bay, which has lost four straight.
The Giants matched their longest winning streak of the season. The NL West leaders are a major league-leading 27-8 since May 11, the day they began their other eight-game run.
But Sunday wasn't all pretty.
The Giants looked like a team playing a game that started a little after 10 a.m. San Francisco time - committing three errors in the first two innings, with one of the miscues - Peavy's errant pickoff throw - allowing Tampa Bay's only run to score.
The Rays weren't able to fully take advantage of the sloppy play, however, going 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position through three innings. Belt's second homer in three days wiped out a 1-0 deficit in the fourth, and Peavy kept the game close by retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced after giving up a leadoff single to Evan Longoria in the third.
''We made Jake work pretty hard the first three innings,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ''For him the one run was really impressive considering all that happened behind him.''
A nine-game homestand that saw the Rays go 4-5 couldn't end quick enough for them.
''It's good to be getting out of here,'' Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. ''That was kind of a series of us just not getting it done. The big hit eluded us. We had baserunners all over the place the first two innings. To come out of that with one run, especially in the first, we've got to be able to capitalize on that.''
Giants: RHP Sergio Romo (right flexor strain), who's on a rehab assignment with Class A San Jose, could return during a five-game homestand that begins next Friday. . C Buster Posey was given a break from defensive play for the second consecutive game and was the designated hitter.
Rays: RHP Ryan Webb (right pectoral strain) made his second rehab appearance Saturday, allowing one run and two hits over one inning for Triple-A Durham.
With Baltimore's Manny Machado beginning a four-game suspension Sunday, Giants 3B Matt Duffy now has baseball's longest active streak for consecutive games played. Duffy appeared in his 188th straight game, which is about 15 years short of the record of 2,632 set by Cal Ripken Jr. ''That blows my mind. That's a long time,'' Duffy said of streaks compiled by Ripken and Lou Gehrig (2,130). ''For me, it kind of drives home how good those two guys were for so long.''
Duffy was removed from the game in the seventh inning with a sore left Achilles tendon. Manager Bruce Bochy said he was injured running the bases and is day to day, adding Duffy was bothered by the same thing during spring training.
''He hit the bag, it flared up on him,'' Bochy said.
''If it's something that I can push through and deal with, I'm going to,'' Duffy said. ''I guess I'm not overly concerned. It's just very sore.''
Giants: Madison Bumgarner (8-2, 1.91 ERA) faces Jeff Locke (5-5, 5.92) in the opener of a four-game series at Pittsburgh. San Francisco hasn't lost a game Bumgarner started since April 20, a string of 10 appearances. The left-hander is 7-0 with a 1.27 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 18 walks during that span.
Rays: Begin a seven-game road trip to Cleveland and Baltimore, with Drew Smyly (2-7, 4.75) facing Indians RHP Josh Tomlin (8-1, 3.27) on Monday. The left-hander is 2-2 with a 3.93 in 14 career appearances against Cleveland, including four starts. It's only the second time Smyly will face the Indians with Tampa Bay.