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ST. LOUIS -- Though home runs remain a rarity for the Giants, they've proven lately that slugging is not a completely foreign skill to them.
They entered Tuesday night's rematch against the St. Louis Cardinals having homered in five consecutive games, tying a season-high. Of San Francisco's eight homers in this span, Pablo Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz hit three and two, respectively. Matt Downs, Travis Ishikawa and Juan Uribe hit the others.
The first four games of the Giants' previous five-game homer streak, May 21-25, were on the road. They've actually hit only slightly fewer home runs at AT&T Park (24) than away from it (27). Still, AT&T's pitcher-friendly, long-ball-smothering tendencies may forever affect the Giants' power production. The Giants homered in six of nine games on their last homestand, but hitting coach Carney Lansford admitted that visiting Milwaukee's Miller Park and St. Louis' Busch Stadium has helped players flex their muscles.
"When the weather warms up and we're in these parks, where the ball does fly, all you have to do is barrel the ball with something decent on it and you'll get rewarded," Lansford said. "We have to hit our home runs mostly on the road. We'll hit a few at home, but we have to take advantage of ballparks like this. As long as guys don't go up trying to do it, then we're fine."
The Giants' power surge has lifted them out of last place in the Major League rankings in home runs, a spot they've occupied through most of the season. They began Tuesday with 51 homers, 14th in the National League ahead of Pittsburgh (49) and New York (47). San Francisco is on pace to hit 110 homers after finishing last in the Majors a year ago with 94.
"I think guys are more relaxed right now," Lansford said. "That happens when everybody's swinging the bat well."
Sandoval has moved into the team lead with 11 big flies while maintaining unusual patience at the plate. He had drawn 12 walks in 22 games entering Tuesday, compared to eight free passes in his first 48 games.
"At the beginning of the season, he was chasing everything and was too amped up," Lansford said of Sandoval, who has eight home runs in his last 23 games. "Now he has really settled down and isn't chasing balls."
Ishikawa, who led the Giants with seven exhibition homers, has been another leading power source. Of his last eight hits before Tuesday, four were home runs.
"He's swinging it like we thought he would coming out of Spring Training," Lansford said.