SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants certainly haven't played good baseball for the past month, but they haven't caught many breaks, either. They benefited from an odd one Monday.
Pablo Sandoval's right knee flare up in the last game against the Yankees, keeping him from being able to bat from the right side. Sandoval still started in the opener against the Dodgers as Bruce Bochy tried to ride the hot hand at third, but when the Dodgers turned to left-handed reliever Scott Alexander ahead of Sandoval's spot in the sixth, a change needed to be made.
Evan Longoria, usually the starter, entered. He won the game an inning later.
Longoria's three-run bases-clearing double was the difference in a 3-2 win over the Dodgers. It was his biggest hit as a Giant, and came on a day when a man who has been a locked-in starter since his first day in the big leagues seemed dangerously close to slipping into a platoon.
"I've been waiting for that hit in a Giants uniform for a long time," Longoria said, smiling. "More than a year."
The Giants trailed 2-0 heading into the seventh, but Joe Panik picked up a one-out single off Ross Stripling and Yangervis Solarte yanked a double, emphatically clasping his hands together as he landed on second base. Oracle Park came to life as the Dodgers scrambled, and Brandon Belt drew a walk to load the bases.
When Dylan Floro struck out Buster Posey, this looked like yet another failed rally for one of the league's worst lineups. But Floro's 2-1 sinker to Longoria stayed up and the third baseman smoked it down the left field line. All three runners raced home, with Belt easily scoring the go-ahead run.
Longoria entered the night with just eight RBI and a .204 batting average. Sandoval has been the most dangerous Giant over the past couple weeks, and for a second straight day he was in the lineup against a right-handed starter.
"I'm hitting .200. It's not something where I can go into the office and say, 'Why Pablo?'" Longoria said. "Pablo has been good. You just have to be ready when you get the opportunity."
Longoria was, and it helped the Giants pick up a big win. They entered this series seven games back of the Dodgers and Bochy called for urgency Sunday afternoon after getting swept by the Yankees. He said he liked the energy he saw in the dugout all night, and in the end that resulted in a handshake line the Giants sorely needed.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Longoria said. "Every win, every big hit in those situations, those are big right now."