SAN FRANCISCO — The last of Logan Webb’s career-high 112 pitches Tuesday night looked like it would be the one to spoil his seventh shutout inning.
Webb had blanked the Royals through six and was pitching well enough that manager Gabe Kapler sent him back out for the seventh with his pitch count approaching triple digits. A walk and single had put Kansas City’s M.J. Melendez on second base with two outs when Michael A. Taylor lofted a would-be RBI single in front of Luis González in right field.
Moments later, Webb was walking back to the dugout and pointing Gonzalez’s direction — equal parts astonishment, admiration and appreciation. González unleashed a 97.4 mph laser to the plate, where catcher Austin Wynns was waiting to lay the tag on Melendez for the third out of the inning, preserving Webb’s clean pitching line in possibly his best outing of the season.
Behind Webb’s seven shutout innings, the Giants defeated the Royals, 4-2, for their fifth straight win, securing their first-ever series win over the Royals at Oracle Park in only their third regular-season visit to China Basin. Kansas City only got on the board once Webb left the game, with two runs off Tyler Rogers in the eighth.
With the Royals mounting their biggest previous scoring threat — runners at the corners with two outs in the sixth — Webb got top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. to swing through a slider and strand both runners on base. It was Witt’s 22nd birthday Tuesday, and Webb celebrated by sending him down for three of his nine strikeouts.
Webb’s nine strikeouts were one shy of a season-high he set two starts ago over eight innings in Philadelphia.
Against the Royals, they came on a diet of offspeed pitches and breaking balls. Webb threw more sliders (45) and changeups (37) than he did sinkers or four-seamers (30) and used them to get the majority of his 20 swings and misses induced against Royals hitters.
In his first outing since taking a tough-luck loss Thursday — Webb’s first losing decision at Oracle Park in 18 starts — Webb was at risk of not factoring into the decision Tuesday, despite seven shutout innings.
The Giants hadn’t been able to touch Kansas City starter Kris Bubic when Webb walked off the mound after six innings and 94 pitches. But Bubic, a Cupertino native and Stanford grad, wouldn’t make it out of the sixth.
González lined a leadoff double down the left-field line, and after an Austin Slater strikeout — his third of the game — the Giants strung together three straight hits that chased Bubic from the game. Flores, who reached base three times, struck a single into left field that drove home González, and Darin Ruf poked a single to score Flores. Joc Pederson, who legged out an infield single, scored the third and final run of the inning on a sac fly by Tommy La Stella.
It took the Giants until the fifth to break through for their first hit. Two Flores walks had been their only base runners before Brandon Crawford laced a one-out single past a diving Carlos Santana at first base.
González was the first Giant to reach scoring position with his sixth-inning double, but that seemed to ignite San Francisco’s offense, which over the course of their five-game win streak has still been held to three or fewer runs three times.
With their three-run rally in the sixth, though, the Giants reached their magic number.
The Giants’ pitching staff has allowed seven earned runs over their past 45 innings (a 1.40 ERA) and hasn’t surrendered more than two in any of their five games over the win streak.
On Wednesday afternoon (12:45 p.m.), they’ll try for a sweep that would make it six in row. San Francisco has won five straight games four times this season but has extended the streak to six games only once.