ST. LOUIS -- Sounding mildly surprised by himself, Hunter Pence acknowledged that he has settled nicely into the No. 2 spot in the Giants' batting order, a position he wasn't expected to occupy before the season began.
After leading San Francisco with 27 homers and 99 RBIs last year, Pence appeared destined to hit in the middle of the order this season. But the back injury that sidelined second baseman Marco Scutaro, the team's projected No. 2 hitter, created a void behind leadoff hitter Angel Pagan. After some experimenting, manager Bruce Bochy realized that Pence was the best fit for the role. Saturday marked Pence's 40th game in a row in the second spot.
Pence hinted that he initially felt slightly uncomfortable batting second.
"I didn't really mean for myself to adjust to it," he said. "But I definitely have."
Pence, who hit a three-run home run later, demonstrated his adaptation in Friday night's first inning with a fly ball to right field that advanced Pagan, who doubled to open the Giants' 9-4 win over the Cardinals.
"Even if I were hitting lower in the lineup I'd still be proud of that, but it wouldn't be my main goal," Pence said.
As for coordinating his hitting approach with Pagan's stolen-base attempts, Pence said, "I'm working on that. You have to know the pitch he can [run] on. It's a work in progress."
Asked if he had discussed this subject with Pagan, Pence replied, "Well, he talked to me. It's a big part of his game, so I have to be cognizant of that."
Posey, Crawford, Pagan out of lineup to rest
ST. LOUIS -- Buster Posey was out of the Giants' lineup for the third consecutive game Saturday, though manager Bruce Bochy said that the catcher's tight lower back was continuing to improve.
Bochy said that to ensure Posey's long-term health, he wanted to rest the two-time All-Star for one more day. Depending on the condition of backup catcher Hector Sanchez, Bochy added, Posey might also sit out Sunday's series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals. Coupled with Monday's scheduled off-day, that would give Posey five days' rest, an ample amount.
Asked if the Giants' recent success has given him leeway to rest Posey, Bochy replied, "No question." Bochy added that this experience has been valuable for the 24-year-old Sanchez, who has received more extensive activity only once in his Major League career. He started five games in a row last Sept. 4-8.
Bochy also rested shortstop Brandon Crawford, who had started all but five games. Crawford entered Saturday with two hits in his previous 20 at-bats.
"He just needs a day [off]. You can see it on both sides," Bochy said, referring to Crawford's offense and defense. "His legs are probably pretty heavy right now."
Replacing Crawford, Ehire Adrianza received his eighth start of the season at shortstop.
Bochy also viewed Saturday's day game following a night game as an opportunity to give a break to hard-working leadoff batter and center fielder Angel Pagan. Gregor Blanco played center instead.