SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Kyle Harrison’s home debut at Oracle Park was as electrifying as the pitches he was throwing.
Just as rewarding, too, because it came in front of a crowd of 24,581 that included a throng of family and friends.
Harrison, who went to high school about 30 minutes east of San Francisco, struck out 11 in his first career victory as the Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 on Monday night for their third consecutive win.
“Momentum’s a big thing in this game,” Harrison said. “I had a lot of support behind me and it was an awesome day.”
Wilmer Flores, Patrick Bailey and Wade Meckler each had an RBI double for the Giants, who moved within a half-game of Arizona for the final NL wild card.
Elly De La Cruz had an RBI double for the Reds, who remained 1 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks for the last National League playoff berth.
Six days after making his long-awaited major league debut in Philadelphia, the 22-year-old Harrison was welcomed with multiple standing ovations at Oracle Park, where every strikeout was cheered loudly.
Harrison, a third-round draft pick in 2020, allowed three hits and walked two in 6 1/3 shutout innings. The team’s top pitching prospect was pulled after Christian Encarnacion-Strand doubled and TJ Friedl walked.
Before exiting, Harrison (1-0) was as dominant as billed following an uneven debut against the Phillies that lasted only 3 1/3 innings. The left-hander became the first Giants pitcher to retire the first five batters of a game by strikeout since Hall of Famer Randy Johnson did it against Colorado on May 1, 2009. Harrison also worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth by getting Luke Maile to fly out before whiffing TJ Hopkins.
According to the Giants, Harrison is the second starting pitcher since 2000 to have double-digit strikeouts in his second career start. Shohei Ohtani did it for the Angels against the Athletics on April 8, 2018.
The only other Giants pitcher to do it was Jeff Tesreau in 1912.
“It was about as electric a performance as we’ve seen since I’ve been here in San Francisco,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “To do it in front of his family and see the tears up on the big screen was pretty rewarding for all of us. It’s a pretty big moment for everyone involved.”
San Francisco, which had lost 14 of 20, backed the young starter with enough offense and a defensive gem from right fielder Luis Matos, who made a one-hop throw home to nail a runner at the plate in the seventh.
Ryan Walker retired two batters, Tyler Rogers allowed one run in the eighth and Camilo Doval worked the ninth for his 35th save.
The night, however, belonged to Harrison, whose arrival in San Francisco had been talked about all season before the Giants finally called him up. At Oracle Park, fans finally got a chance to see what all the hype was about.
“The funny part is I think everybody’s shocked. Like, ‘Oh man, wow, this is incredible,'” said Bailey, the Giants catcher who played with Harrison in the minors. “I’ve been seeing it for three years. It’s been really cool just to see him do it on the biggest stage.”
It was a rough day all around for Cincinnati.
Before the game, the Reds placed standout infielder Matt McClain on the 10-day injured list with a strained right oblique. A contender for NL Rookie of the Year, McClain is batting .290 with 16 home runs, 50 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 89 games.
“We’re really hoping it’s on the mild side and he can return quickly,” manager David Bell said. “I think he’ll have a chance to get it better quick now, because he was playing with it and he can really get on top of the treatment.”
Harrison struck out the side on 15 pitches during an impressive first inning. He got Noelvi Marte and De La Cruz on swinging strikeouts sandwiched around Nick Senzel, who went down looking.
Flores’ RBI double off starter Andrew Abbott (8-4) in the bottom half put the Giants ahead 1-0. San Francisco loaded the bases later in the inning before Abbott retired Paul DeJong and Heliot Ramos on back-to-back swinging strikeouts.
Thairo Estrada singled against Abbott in the third and scored on Bailey’s double. DeJong’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Abbott, who one-hit the Giants over eight innings on July 20, allowed five hits and three runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Reds: RF Stuart Fairchild went 0 for 1 with a walk after being activated from the seven-day concussion list.
Giants RHP Alex Cobb (6-5, 3.74 ERA) faces Reds LHP Brandon Williamson (4-3, 4.18) at Oracle Park on Tuesday night. Cobb hasn’t won since July and has allowed 10 runs in eight starts since then. Williamson has also hit a slump, winning one of his last five starts.