When they went into the free agent market last winter, the Giants loved Johnny Cueto’s ability to eat innings even when he didn’t have his best stuff. Cueto showed off that trait again Friday in Phoenix, earning a win that looked unlikely through the first three innings.
Cueto kept the Diamondbacks in check after giving up four early runs and the Giants, behind a cast of unlikely characters, kept chipping away. They beat the Diamondbacks 6-4 at Chase Field, with Conor Gillaspie finishing a homer shy of the cycle, Trevor Brown and Grant Green driving in two runs apiece, and Jarrett Parker providing an insurance homer.
Cueto entered the night leading the Majors in home runs per nine innings at just 0.31, but the Diamondbacks took him deep twice in the first three innings. Welington Castillo’s blast to left was one of three extra-base hits in the first inning. Jake Lamb, the low-key Nolan Arenado, hit a no-doubter to right in the third inning.
Gillaspie hit an RBI triple in the second and set up a fourth-inning rally with a ground rule double. That put two runners in scoring position and Green bounced a single up the middle.
Cueto settled in, piling up the strikeouts. The Giants soon gave him a lead. The go-ahead hit came in part because of a curious decision by the Diamondbacks. With two on, two outs and Cueto on deck in the sixth, Shelby Miller elected to pitch to Brown. He drove a 2-2 fastball to right, putting the Giants on top 5-4.
An error by Green put the tying run on second in the seventh, but Cueto — his pitch count above 100 — struck out Brandon Drury and got Jean Segura to line out to right.
Santiago Casilla put two on in the ninth with no outs, but he held on.
Starting pitching report: Cueto has pitched at least five innings in every start this season. He got through seven for the 12th time in 17 starts.
Bullpen report: Bruce Bochy has been hesitant to let relievers go a full inning, but Cory Gearrin did in the eighth with a two-run lead. He breezed through it.
At the plate: Parker, quietly, is up to a .280 average, with a .392 OBP and .500 slugging percentage. He has five homers in 82 at-bats.
In the field: Brown was catching Cueto for just the second time, and he continued to show his command behind the plate. After one wayward pitch in the sixth, Brown immediately gestured toward his pitcher and reminded him to keep the ball down. Giants starters insist that they don’t mind when they’re paired with the backup, which is high praise given who the starter is.
Up next: Jeff Samardzija (8-5, 3.91) faces lefty Pat Corbin (4-6, 4.99).