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SF@MIA: Giants score five in the 5th inning

MIAMI -- The Giants only needed two runs to beat the Marlins on Friday at Marlins Park. But they strung together three innings of clutch hitting and clobbered the Marlins on their way to a 9-1 victory to open the second half of the season.

Brandon Crawford was the one to provide the cushion as he got the rout started with two outs in the second. He worked Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi for 10 pitches, then pulled the next one, a 96-mph fastball, to the right-field scoreboard above the Marlins' bullpen, giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

The importance of Crawford's homer echoed around the clubhouse after the game, as both manager Bruce Bochy and starter Madison Bumgarner called the 11-pitch at-bat a "turning point."

"You never know what it would've been like if he didn't have that kind of at-bat," Bumgarner said.

Crawford hadn't homered in 32 games since June 6. In fact, he hadn't gotten many hits at all in that span, compiling just 26 base knocks in 105 at-bats.

He said after the game that he'd been able to keep himself more balanced at the plate on Friday and that he wasn't leaning too far forward to hack at balls. He went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice, but didn't get the chance to do more damage. Bochy took Crawford out of the game in the sixth inning because he'd bruised his knee diving to make a play. The injury wasn't serious -- both Crawford and Bochy said that had the lead not been so comfortable, the shortstop would have stayed in the game.

"I'll be in there tomorrow," Crawford said.

Buster Posey, who hit a grand slam in the last game before the All-Star break, helped out the cause with RBI singles in both the third and fifth frames. Pablo Sandoval joined in, sending another Eovaldi fastball into the Marlins' bullpen in the fifth for a three-run shot. That sent Eovaldi packing, and Crawford drove in the Giants' ninth run on a sacrifice fly.

"We came back hungry today," Bumgarner said. "That's good to see, because that's what we'll have to do if we want to be in the mix of things in September and October."

Four of the Giants' nine runs on Friday scored with two outs, something they'd had difficulty doing when they went 10-22 to end the first half.

"This is who we were the first 60-plus games," Bochy said. "We kind of turned into a different team there, a tale of two teams."

After starting the Giants' last game on Sunday, Bumgarner was essentially the only San Francisco player who didn't get extended rest during the All-Star break -- but it didn't really seem like it.

In the midst of the awakening of the Giants' bats, Bumgarner allowed just one run for the first time since June 22 against the D-backs. He pitched six innings, struck out seven and gave up four hits on the way to his 11th victory of the season.

The lone blemish on Bumgarner's night was a two-out home run to Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He crushed an 0-1 backdoor curveball into the water of the Marlins' home run structure beyond center field in the sixth inning. ESPN's Home Run Tracker measured the drive at an estimated 466 feet.

"He was on top of his game," Bochy said of his All-Star lety. "With the position we had him, it allowed me to give him a break, because he was really the one guy going without any added rest."

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