Evan Longoria's Solo Blast Sends Giants Into All-Star Break on High Note

The early part of the season wasn't pretty for the Giants.

Manager Bruce Bochy's club struggled offensively for much of the first half and their rotation wasn't much better.

But things have been looking up of late, as the Giants entered Sunday's first-half finale against the St. Louis Cardinals at Oracle Park having won five of their last six games.

With the All-Star break on the horizon, the Giants' bats were held in check by Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty, as the young right-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He was matched pitch-for-pitch by Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who tossed seven scoreless innings of his own to give San Francisco a chance to get the win. 

Shark's efforts paid off as Evan Longoria rewarded his pitcher in the bottom of the seventh when he hammered a hanging breaking ball over the left field wall to break up the no-hitter, shutout and scoreless tie.

That was all the Giants would need as Will Smith shut the door to give the Giants their seventh win in nine games heading into the All-Star break.

After a solid last two weeks, the Giants find themselves just 5 1/2 games out of the wild-card picture, and Bochy is feeling good about the way his club is playing heading into the second half.

"I think you look at our play here recently, I mean there has to be excitement in this clubhouse and everywhere," Bochy said. "We're just playing better baseball. I mean we are doing good job on the pitching side, we are playing good defense, getting those timely hits, the long ball. We are doing some things to win ball games. That was missing in the early going. And like I said, that just brings a different feeling, a different vibe. It's like anything, your confidence grows with success and that's what's happening."

Samardzija, who tossed his second straight gem, can see the Giants making the second half interesting.

"We're playing good ball," Samardzija said. "Hopefully we can continue doing that. You know, July, August is when these old bodies start warming up, breaking up all the little things that are going on and get nice and loose. So hopefully, we keep playing hard and hitting the ball well, it's a lot of fun to watch this offense now."

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The Giants will exit the All-Star break and head to Milwaukee to face the Brewers. A solid showing against the Brew Crew could give the team the even more confidence as they look to put together a second-half surge and stave off the trading of veteran players which seemed inevitable a few weeks ago.

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