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Bo Naylor’s pinch-hit residence run lifts Guardians to 5-4 win in opposition to Giants

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Guardians had already stranded what felt like a small village of runners on base during the first two games of their weekend series against the Giants when Bo Naylor stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning Sunday.

Naylor made sure that trend came to a screeching halt when he launched his fifth home run, a high drive to right with Andrés Giménez and Tyler Freeman aboard, to give Cleveland a 5-4 victory and a series win against San Francisco at Progressive Field.

Sean Hjelle’s 2-2 sinker landed 378 feet away in right field by the time Naylor was through with it. That marked his first home run since June 22 against Toronto and the first pinch-hit homer of his career. Cleveland now has four pinch-hit home runs this season, the most in the majors.

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Naylor, who came through with a walk-off sacrifice fly in Cleveland’s win over the White Sox on Tuesday, bookended the homestand with another winner Sunday. He said staying prepared on the bench is just another part of being a big leaguer.

“Whether you’re in there or you’re not in that starting lineup, you’ve got to be ready,” Naylor said. “It’s really just controlling that part of the game, making sure that you’re taking care of that side and available in case the team needs you.”

The home run extended Naylor’s hitting streak to six games, giving him seven RBI in his that span. Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said while Naylor has not been satisfied with the kind of year he is having at the plate, he has made strides in the last 3-4 weeks after making an adjustment.

“He was so prepared for that at-bat,” Vogt said, “Credit goes to him, credit goes to our hitting group … There’s no greater feeling in the world than coming off the bench and putting your team ahead.”

Cleveland’s league-leading bullpen made sure Naylor’s blast held up, locking down the Giants offense with four scoreless innings in relief of starter Carlos Carrasco. Cade Smith picked up the win (4-1) while Tim Herrin and Hunter Gaddis added scoreless frames to get the ball to Emmanuel Clase in the ninth.

Clase allowed a run on an RBI ground out by Michael Conforto, and pinch-hitter Luis Matos reached on a throwing error by Ángel Martínez before Brett Wisely grounded out for Clase’s 27th save, the most in the American League.

It was Cleveland’s first series win against San Francisco since 2005, and moved the Guardians to 11-0-1 in home series this season.

After stranding 11 runners Friday and four more on Saturday, Cleveland went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position to win the series finale. Josh Naylor drove in Martínez with a base hit in the fourth, and Daniel Schneemann’s RBI double cut a three-run San Francisco lead down to one.

But with runners at second and third and nobody out, Giants starter Hayden Birdsong struck out Gimenez. Freeman then sent a grounder to third that Matt Chapman fielded and threw home ahead of a sliding Josh Naylor. Patrick Bailey applied the tag as Naylor dove head-first across the plate. Vogt challenged that Bailey had illegally blocked the plate, but the out call was upheld upon review.

Birdsong then picked Freeman off at first base to end the inning.

The Guardians missed another scoring chance in the fifth with two runners on base and two outs for Jose Ramirez. Giants manager Bob Melvin summoned Hjelle from the bullpen and the 6-foot-11 righty struck out Ramirez on a high fastball to end the inning.

San Francisco took the lead in the second when Conforto homered off Carrasco with Bailey aboard. It was Conforto’s second home run of the series and eighth extra-base hit in his last 10 games. The Giants added a run in the third on Heliot Ramos’ RBI single with two out.

The Guardians have MLB’s best home record at 30-11 and announced 32,012 fans attended Sunday’s game. While not a sellout, the total did push the team over 1 million in attendance through 41 home dates, the fastest to a million since 2008.

Next: The Guardians begin a seven-game road trip Monday in Detroit that will take them up to the All-Star break. Right-hander Gavin Williams (0-1, 11.25) starts the opener against righty Keider Montero (1-2, 6.60). First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. The game will air on FS1, Bally Sports Great Lakes, WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM and the Guardians Radio Network.

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