Logan Webb

Webb holds up his end of marquee matchup vs. Astros' Valdez

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SAN FRANCISCO – Wednesday’s marquee matchup between Giants ace Logan Webb and the Houston Astros’ Framber Valdez didn’t exactly live up to the hype, although Webb did his part.

The Giants’ leading candidate to be selected for the MLB All-Star Game, Webb spun six solid but unspectacular innings, allowing three runs and seven hits with five strikeouts in San Francisco's 5-3 win over Houston at Oracle Park. He threw 83 pitches and picked up his third victory in four starts against the Astros.

Valdez, on the other hand, only made it through four innings after San Francisco’s offense tattooed the big left-hander for eight hits and five runs.

It’s the second time in two seasons that the two staff aces have squared off. Each time, Webb has walked away with the win.

“I just keep doing better and better, which is incentive for myself,” Webb said after winning consecutive starts for the first time since mid-April. “Today, I felt really good early on. Kind of towards the end I had to fight some of the pitches that I was throwing, locations I was throwing them. Got to go back and watch video and hopefully just keep building on it.”

The game paired two of the best ground-ball pitchers in all of the major leagues. The pair have been Nos. 1 and 2 in terms of ground-ball rate each of the past two seasons, and are near the top of that category again this year.

It didn’t pan out that way Wednesday. Webb got the Astros to hit into eight groundouts, while Valdez had six.

“Big sinker, ground ball guys kind of stick together, so I always enjoy watching him throw,” Webb said of his pitching counterpart.

The Giants did their best to keep Valdez from dominating with eight hits – the third-most that Valdez has allowed this season. San Francisco’s batters patiently worked counts, and leadoff batter Austin Slater led the hit parade with three singles. Brett Wisely added a pair of hits off the Astros ace, while Jorge Soler and No. 9 hitter Mike Yastrzemski each reached base twice off Valdez.

“We had some good at-bats and made him throw some pitches,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said.

Valdez had won each of his previous two starts and four of six, but never got into a good rhythm against the Giants.

“The pitches weren’t doing what I wanted them to do, including the breaking stuff, so I was a little bit out of control there,” Valdez said through an interpreter. “I think I was getting out in front of a lot of pitches, and that’s why a lot of them were staying up or staying down the middle of the plate. And I think that was the biggest reason they were able to have a lot of success or able to hit a lot of those pitches up.”

Of the seven hits Webb allowed, two came on power swings by Yordan Alvarez. The Houston slugger doubled to deep center and scored in the third, then went yard in the sixth off a Webb changeup that was underneath the zone.

“I threw both of those pitches right where I was intending to throw them,” Webb said. “The type of hitter he is, you just have to tip your cap. He’s one of the best pure hitters in baseball.”

Webb, who picked off Trey Cabbage leaning off of first in the third inning on a picturesque move, made only one real mistake.

That came in the fourth inning. With two outs and a runner on third, Houston’s Jeremy Peña hit an infield grounder toward second base. San Francisco first baseman Wilmer Flores wound up fielding the ball, but Webb hesitated before running to first, allowing the Astros to score their first run of the game.

“Off the bat, I just thought it was going right to the second baseman, so I didn’t think twice about it,” Webb explained.

The 83 pitches were a season-low for Webb, who has been dealing with pain in his pitching shoulder since his previous start in Texas on June 7. He told reporters that he didn’t want to come out of Wednesday’s game but understood Melvin’s reasoning for taking him out after six innings.

“I kind of felt a little zinger in my shoulder, but I’ve had it before,” Webb explained. “I think it was just kind of a precautionary thing. I didn’t want to come out of the game, I can tell you that right now. But Bob said it very well. He said, ‘You’re only going to go out for 90 pitches today.’ I trust Bob with every decision, and I agreed with him. I get why we were real cautious with that.”

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