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Back-to-back homers fuel huge win over Cubs

What we learned as back-to-back homers fuel win over Cubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — During a gracious and emotional pregame speech, Will Clark took some time to discuss how much he enjoyed winning, and how important it was to him. On Will Clark night at Oracle Park, the 2022 Giants made sure they did their part.

Luis González and Joey Bart homered, Jakob Junis deftly worked around trouble, and the bullpen held on as the Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 to move back to within a game of .500. With two games until Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, they are four games out of the sixth and final playoff spot in the National League.

This one was shaky early, but Junis kept zeros on the board and Austin Slater gave the Giants a lead with an RBI double. Yermín Mercedes brought Slater home, and an inning later, González and Bart went back-to-back to make it 5-0.

The Cubs were quiet most of the night, but they loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth. Dom Leone entered and got three straight grounders to short, resulting in just two total outs, but he finally closed the Cubs out.

Here are three more things to know:

Scary Moment

Thairo Estrada has had a good month and played solid defense at shortstop with Brandon Crawford on the IL, but a scary moment in the fifth inning took him out of the game and might have sidelined him for at least a few days.

Estrada took a pitch off the helmet with two down in the fifth and immediately went down. It took him several minutes to get up as Giants trainers checked his head and neck, and he was helped back to the clubhouse for tests.

If there was any sort of silver lining, it was that the pitch from right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. was an 84 mph changeup, not a fastball, but it still made direct contact with the left side of Estrada’s helmet. He held his left ear as he went to the ground.

Estrada was replaced by Jason Vosler, who played shortstop for the first time since June 13, 2015, when he was in Low-A ball for the Cubs. If Estrada does miss time, the Giants will be in a tough spot. Crawford (knee) was not supposed to come off the IL until the middle of next week at the earliest. Donovan Walton is the only other shortstop option on the 40-man roster.

Keep Them Standing

Clark took a seat in the owner’s box before the top of the fourth and fans in the lower deck gave him a standing ovation as he walked down the steps. A couple of rookies kept them on their feet.

González took lefty Drew Smyly into the arcade for a two-run shot, his first at Oracle Park. On the very next pitch, Bart demolished an elevated cutter. It was the third time the Giants have gone back-to-back this season and the second time González and Bart have done it, although the previous one came against Albert Pujols.

Statcast Star

Bart has spent a lot of time with Clark over the last couple of months. The two sat down for beers after Bart was demoted to Triple-A to talk about hitting and life, and Clark is still a big believer in the 25-year-old catcher. That swing in the fourth was a reminder of the tantalizing talent.

The homer, Bart’s seventh of the year, left the bat at 114.3 mph. It was the hardest-hit homer by a Giant since Statcast began tracking in 2015, just eclipsing Mac Williamson’s 114.2 mph rocket off then-Angels lefty Andrew Heaney in 2018. Bart’s blast was the hardest-hit ball by a Giant this season by a wide margin; the previous high was a Joc Pederson liner to first on April 23 that clocked in at 112.8.

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