But that just made it sweeter to savor a well-earned 8-7 victory on Monday afternoon at Dolphin Stadium which gave San Francisco its first four-game sweep and first winning road trip of the season.
"Exhausting game," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, whose club notched 17 of the game's 27 hits. "Long game, hot, but we persevered and we got the last out. That's big."
The Giants, who are riding a five-game win streak for just the second time this season, now head home to begin a nine-game homestand.
"I think everybody's just kind of relaxing a little bit, knowing what we've got to do here," said Bengie Molina, who tied a career high with four hits.
Things didn't start so rosy for the Giants as Russ Ortiz, who was vying to win his first game since April 20, surrendered four straight two-out hits in the first, the last one a three-run homer by Jeremy Hermida that made it 4-0.
But San Francisco started storming back immediately, getting two runs in the second, another in the third and two more in the fifth. The Giants would have had even more had they not left eight runners on base through five.
All those rallies took their toll on Florida starter Sergio Mitre, who had thrown 101 pitches when he left after Ortiz's RBI single with two out in the fifth put San Francisco ahead for the first time, 5-4. The sinkerballer Mitre was tagged for 11 hits and three walks in his fourth shortest outing of the season.
Ortiz, meanwhile, had been cruising after his early hiccups. He retired the next seven hitters he faced and kept Florida from scoring again through four.
But when Ortiz's first pitch of the fifth inning missed the strike zone, several eyebrows raised. Molina looked at the scoreboard radar. It read 80. He turned to the dugout.
"We couldn't tell if it was a changeup or fastball," Bochy said.
Ortiz' next pitch also missed the zone. Molina looked at the scoreboard again. When he saw it flash 81, he went out to the mound.
"He didn't look right," Molina said. "I had to go out there and ask him, 'You know man, this is your arm. This is for your own good. So if you're not feeling good, just say it, man. It's alright, we'll get somebody in here.'"
Ortiz threw one more pitch -- another ball -- before Bochy, pitching coach Dave Righetti and trainer Dave Groeschner came out to the mound. After a lengthy conference, Ortiz left the game. He was diagnosed with a right elbow strain and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Bochy said it was "doubtful" the right-hander would make his next scheduled start.
"It's hard to really say what it is," said Ortiz, who said he didn't start feeling sore until the fifth inning and that the injury didn't feel the same as the forearm issue that sidelined him earlier this year. "I've never had a problem with my arm, and that's all I've had this year. It'd be different I just wasn't pitching well. It's just a frustrating thing to deal with."
San Francisco added another run in the sixth on Molina's third RBI single of the game.
"He'll sleep good tonight," Bochy said. "It was hit after hit. He's such a warrior back there."
Bochy, meanwhile, used every arm at his disposal to cradle the Giants' lead, trotting out six different relievers after Ortiz's departure. The only one who got into trouble was Scott Atchison, who allowed a solo homer to Miguel Olivo and an RBI single to Miguel Cabrera in the eighth. Cabrera's blow came as a pinch-hitter; the slugger was kept out of the starting lineup after arriving late to the ballpark.
But Kevin Correia relieved Atchison and got the final two outs of the eighth before Brian Wilson, filling in for the three-saves-in-three-days Brad Hennessey, tossed a scoreless ninth for his second career save.
"Great win, great series, great road trip," Bochy said. "With all we've gone through, I couldn't be prouder of these guys."
Tom Keller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less