San Francisco Giants 3, Houston Astros 2: Better late than lose

BOX SCORE

Here are the important numbers after Tuesday’s win for the Giants over the Astros.

The Giants’ magic number to clinch the NL West title is 30.

The Giants’ record agains the Astros this season is 6-1.

The Giants’ record since the Melky Cabrera suspension: 8-4.

The Dodgers’ record since their blockbuster trade that was going to put them over the top: 1-3.

He-he-he-he-he-he-he-he-he.

Sorry. That last stat makes me giggle.

But none of that would have been possible if not for one last record — Giants record when trailing after eight innings now stands at 2-50.

It’s hard to call a win over the Astros as a must-win game. But the Astros have been so terrible since the All-Star break that if the Giants don’t beat Houston, especially when getting a good pitching performance like they got Tuesday from Matt Cain … well, it’s those losses they’ll regret come October.

Fortunately, it only took the Giants eight innings to realize that.

The Giants managed only one run off the Astros through eight innings — a fifth-inning home run from Angel Pagan.

That was the Giants’ lone highlight up to that point, well at least on offense.

The defensive highlight was the tandem catch of a foul pop by Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford that might remind some of the Bob Boone/Pete Rose catch from the 1980 World Series, only better.

Here’s a look:

But even so, it looked as if an eighth-inning wild pitch might beat them as the Giants trailed 2-1 entering the ninth.

Then the Giants started stringing hits together.

It started with a leadoff single by Brandon Belt.

Joaquin Arias came in to pinch-hit for Gregor Blanco and raked the first pitch he saw down the third-base line for a double, scoring Belt.

After a Brandon Crawford strike out, Hector Sanchez delivered a pinch-hit single to center to score Arias.

Then Sergio Romo pitched a perfect ninth for the save.

Now the Giants have a 3.5-game lead over the Dodgers, their largest such margin of the season.

And with Joe Blanton pitching Wednesday for L.A. in Colorado, it makes Giants fans feel better about not knowing which Barry Zito will show up Wednesday to take the mound for the Giants.

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