Sandoval helps out early, late in Giants win

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have reached the quarter point of the season, and the club is nowhere close to hitting its stride.

There’s frustration, there’s disappointment, and even confusion, but there are also moments the team can celebrate.

A come-from-behind Mother’s Day victory over the Reds qualified as one of those moments. Thanks to a go-ahead single from Kevin Pillar to drive in Pablo Sandoval in the bottom of the eighth, the Giants secured a 6-5 win to salvage the finale of a three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds.

The Giants notched a pair of come-from-behind victories in Cincinnati last weekend and overcame three separate deficits against the Reds to win Sunday’s game. A two-run Sandoval homer erased a 2-0 first inning deficit, a two-run, pinch-hit home run from Brandon Belt wiped out a 4-2 seventh inning Reds lead, and a RBI groundout from Mac Williamson allowed the Giants to tie the game in the eighth after the Giants fell behind 5-4.

Pillar and Sandoval were two of the Giants to break out pink bats on Mother’s Day, and after breaking a three-game losing streak with big hits, neither player may want to give them up.

The Giants’ late-inning theatrics took place on day that started with controversy for the franchise.

No one anticipated the Giants to gallop their way to a playoff berth, but the team’s performance through the first quarter of the season has disgruntled its fan base and led to unease in some corners of the clubhouse.

Before ace Madison Bumgarner took the mound on Sunday, manager Bruce Bochy and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi addressed comments pitcher Derek Holland made Saturday after the veteran left-hander Holland was told he’ll move from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

Holland said he has “no idea what they’re doing” in reference to recent front office decisions, a critique Bochy and Zaidi wished Holland had kept in-house. While both Bochy and Zaidi have dozens of people inside the organization to keep happy, the duo acknowledged it’s more difficult to do so when the Giants are losing.

“We’re not where we want to be,” Bochy said pregame. “You look at the struggles on both ends, we still feel we can get this thing right.

“We can hang in there and get some consistency to the point where we can get on a roll and get back to winning baseball.”

A recent-three game skid featured continued struggles from the club’s starting rotation, as every starter outside of Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija have failed to meet expectations. The pitching staff has been at its worst in the first inning, and even Bumgarner wasn’t immune to adversity at the outset of Sunday’s game.

Miscues by Erik Kratz cost Bumgarner a pair of unearned runs in the opening frame against Cincinnati, as Kratz committed catcher’s interference, allowing Nick Senzel to reach to start the game. A passed ball and an error by center fielder Kevin Pillar didn’t help matters, but Bumgarner limited the damage to two runs thanks to an outfield assist from Pillar, who fired a strike to the plate to retire shortstop Jose Iglesias to end the inning.

The Giants didn’t face a deficit for long as Sandoval launched an opposite-field home run off Tyler Mahle in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 2-2.

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Giants had been outscored 40-3 in the first inning of games this year, but Sandoval put the team on equal footing with the Reds with his fourth home run of the season.

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