SAN DIEGO -- The Giants long ago lost any hope of repeating as World Series champions, but on a quiet afternoon at Petco Park, they did get the chance to relive a bit of October magic.
Pablo Sandoval hit three of the Giants' six homers against the San Diego Padres, matching his total from Game 1 of the World Series to lead the way in a 13-5 victory.
"When he hit that third one I said, 'Well, that brings back a good memory,' " manager Bruce Bochy said.
Players up and down the dugout had the same thought on the rare joyous day for a group that is tied for last in the National League West. The Giants had dropped the first two games of this series and fell behind early as it became clear that Tim Lincecum didn't have his best stuff, but the unlikely homer barrage started in the third inning.
The Giants came into the game tied for last in the majors with 80 homers, just 18 of which had come in the second half. Brandon Belt had five of them, but it was the other Brandon who lit the fireworks on Wednesday. Shortstop Brandon Crawford broke out of a 4-for-45 slump against left-handed pitchers with a solo blast off Eric Stults.
In the dugout, Crawford found Sandoval. Back in April, when Crawford hit five homers, he made sure Sandoval knew that he led the left side of the infield in home runs.
"He told me to talk to him in September," Crawford said.
Crawford's third-inning homer was his ninth of the season, putting him one behind Sandoval at the time, and the shortstop again took the opportunity to needle the third baseman. Sandoval then went out and hit a two-run homer in the fifth, a solo in the eighth and a three-run shot in the ninth.
Given the results, why did it take so long for Crawford to poke the Panda's cage?
"I didn't know it was that easy," Crawford said, laughing.
Sandoval's power surge was the result of more than just a bit of friendly smack talk. Earlier in the day he met with hitting coach Hensley Meulens and watched clips from last September and October, when Sandoval was one of the best hitters in baseball. After a strong batting practice session, Sandoval found Meulens.
"I told him to just sit back and enjoy the party," Sandoval said.
He wasn't the only one to put on a show. The Giants had 17 hits and hit six homers for the first time since Sept. 18, 2011. That game came at Coors Field, but at spacious Petco Park, the Giants looked like they were playing with aluminum bats. Hunter Pence hit a two-run blast in the fourth and now is just two homers shy of becoming the first Giant with 20 homers and 20 stolen bases since Barry Bonds in 1998. Hector Sanchez hit a two-run shot later in the inning, his third in his last 14 games. That gave Tim Lincecum a 5-2 lead, but he had trouble holding it.
In his first start at Petco Park since throwing a no-hitter on July 13, Lincecum gave up a single on his first pitch of the day and later served up two homers. He was charged with five earned runs in 52/3 innings but came away with his ninth win thanks to the offensive explosion.
In a light clubhouse, Lincecum wore a stern look.
"I'm frustrated right now," he said. "I didn't take advantage of that lead the way I wanted to. I didn't attack the zone the way I wanted to. When you have the answers to a test and don't put them down, it's frustrating."
The frustration boiled over for Bochy a night before when he spoke to general manager Brian Sabean until midnight, both men searching for a solution to the Giants' problems with runners in scoring position.
Bochy had hoped to see more productive outs from his lineup. Instead, a group that had nine homers in the entire month of July put six over the fence at Petco Park.
"I wish I had a reason why they broke out like this," Bochy said. "It was nice to see, it really was. I think we're all asking, 'Where's that been?' "
Bochy likely will ask himself the same question over and over again during the offseason. Sandoval's three-homer game was a positive sign but also a reminder of the kind of hitter the Giants expected to have in the middle of their lineup all season. The outburst was one Bochy had hoped to see more of this season, one that began with him insisting throughout the spring that the Giants would hit more home runs. On Sept. 4, they broke through. It came too late to do any real damage, but the Giants at least can hope the residual effects carry over as they plan for 2014.
"That's not our game, but it shows we're capable of doing some things with the bats," Bochy said.
Arizona (Trevor Cahill 5-10) at Giants (Ryan Vogelsong 3-4), 7:15 p.m., CSNBA