SAN FRANCISCO - Before Sunday's game, Bruce Bochy was asked if his bullpen was in decent shape after Casey Kelly soaked up five innings the night before. He nodded.
"We actually have guys who need work," he said.
Dereck Rodriguez didn't leave much room for anyone else. The rookie was once again brilliant, allowing one run over seven innings of a 4-3 win and lowering his ERA to 2.25 and WHIP to 1.00. Over his last eight starts, Rodriguez has a 1.35 ERA. What was so impressive Sunday was that he did it without his curveball, one of his go-to offerings. Rodriguez said it never had the desired break, so he went heavy elsewhere.
"It's good that I can have one pitch not working for me and go out and compete," he said. "I make that adjustment to what is working that day."
The Giants nearly paid dearly for Rodriguez being pulled after seven. Reyes Moronta and Tony Watson had trouble in the eighth and the Pirates got two runs back, but Watson got out of the frame and Will Smith had an easy ninth. Rodriguez has allowed five runs in five second-half starts. On Sunday, he finally picked up his second post-break victory.
Manager Bruce Bochy once again talked about how Rodriguez is a Rookie of the Year frontrunner. The pitcher is happy with another development. He's finally emerging from the shadow of his father.
"I've been waiting for that my whole life, to be honest," Rodriguez said.
--- Brandon Belt flied out twice on Saturday in his Triple-A game and will play one more before joining the Giants. It seems a good bet that he'll be in the lineup Tuesday in Los Angeles. Hunter Strickland struck out two in a scoreless inning Saturday night.
--- Buster Posey (rest day) was out of the starting lineup Sunday, meaning a streak will continue. The Pirates are the only NL team Posey has not homered against, and he won't see them again this year. Posey has at least two homers against every other NL team.
--- If you are a fan of the word "southpaw," this next series will be for you. Madison Bumgarner faces Clayton Kershaw on Monday at Dodger Stadium, followed by Andrew Suarez vs. Alex Wood and Derek Holland vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu. There isn't a right-hander in the bunch.