HOUSTON -- It's been less than two weeks since Tony DeFrancesco was summoned from Triple-A Oklahoma City as interim manager and given the task of trying to get the struggling Astros on the right track. The job certainly hasn't been an easy one.
DeFrancesco, like Brad Mills before him, has taken his lumps as the rebuilding Astros have a hard time finding the win column, but that doesn't mean the new boss is about to accept losing. After the Giants rallied for eight unanswered runs to beat the Astros, 8-4, on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park, DeFrancesco drew the line.
"I know it's a rebuilding time here, but it's unacceptable," he said. "You've got to go out and perform. Getting your butt kicked every night is not fun for nobody. The front office is disappointed. The coaching staff is disappointed. I'm sure the players are disappointed, too. We're going to check up and see what we're made of."
In the last meeting between the former division rivals as members of the National League, the Giants posted their biggest comeback of the year by wiping out a 4-0 deficit with three runs in the fifth inning off starter Jordan Lyles and three more in the seventh against reliever Fernando Rodriguez.
The Giants swept the series from the Astros, who are 1-9 since DeFrancesco took over for the dismissed Mills on Aug. 19 and have lost 12 of their last 13 overall.
"I think my job here right now is to try to get these guys to remember how good they were and why they're playing in the Major Leagues," DeFrancesco said. "They are good ballplayers but at times we're not showing it. I think they need a reminder that you're here for a reason, to put an Astros uniform on day in and day out. You've got to go out there and you've got to make adjustments and you've got to get the job done. We need some more W's. That's the bottom line."
The Astros led, 4-3, when Rodriguez (1-9) came into the game and retired the first three batters he faced before allowing five consecutive Giants hitters to reach (one by intentional walk) after two outs in the seventh inning, three of which scored.
Former Astros outfielder Hunter Pence delivered the big blow when he cracked his bat on a 3-2 pitch and floated a two-out single into center field to score a pair and put the Giants ahead, 6-4. Joaquin Arias hit a solo homer to left field in the eighth inning.
DeFrancesco hinted there could be some changes in the bullpen.
"When the game's on the line and we need a guy to go out there, we're looking for that guy," he said. "I'll give it to anybody -- Mickey Storey, if he wants to be the guy, he's going to get an opportunity. Hector Ambriz, if he's the guy, we're going to go with him. Late in the game right now, our most veteran guy down there is [Wilton] Lopez. We just haven't really had too many chances to get him the ball."
The rally made a winner out of Vogelsong (12-7), who allowed seven hits and four runs and struck out seven batters in six innings.
"I had to keep them off the board," he said. "I was kind of battling. Especially when we had that three-run inning [in the fifth], I knew I had to find a way to keep putting zeros up. ... It really came down to throwing it over the plate and seeing what happened."
Lyles, who wriggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second inning, was staked to a 4-0 lead after Tyler Greene led off the third inning with a homer off Vogelsong. But the fifth inning, which has been troublesome for Lyles all season, wound up biting him again.
"I just have to bounce back from it and learn from my mistakes," Lyles said. "Somehow when the offense does a good job like they did tonight and the defense plays as well as they did, you have to learn how to manage the game and not give up three or four runs."
The Giants pushed across three runs in the fifth to cut the lead to 4-3, getting an RBI double by Angel Pagan, an infield single by Marco Scutaro that scored Vogelsong and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Pablo Sandoval. Vogelsong had reached on a single after pulling back on a bunt attempt and hitting a roller through a spot vacated by shortstop Tyler Greene covering second.
"Give him credit, he executed," Greene said. "With [Gregor] Blanco on first, you know that's a guy that can run and maybe try to take a bag right there, and [Vogelsong] was able to pull it back and put it in a spot that's open. You have to tip your cap to him being able to execute."
Third baseman Matt Dominguez, in his return to the Astros, went 3-for-4 with a triple and a double, tying a career high with three hits. Jimmy Paredes went 2-for-4 in his second game since getting called up and threw out a runner at the plate from right field, though he did get tagged out at second in the sixth inning trying to stretch a single into a double.
That was a reminder to DeFrancesco that his young team can be mistake prone.
"We're going to have to just keep finding out what we're made of," he said. "I'm getting disappointed and frustrated but the bottom line, they're still playing hard."