Melancon off DL, pitches scoreless inning

Giants will be careful with reliever; Gomez out with knee injury

Melancon off DL, pitches scoreless inning

WASHINGTON -- Reliever Mark Melancon was activated from the disabled list Saturday and made his first appearance since June 27 in the Giants' 3-1 loss to the Nationals.

Manager Bruce Bochy said before Saturday's game that the Giants would ease Melancon back into the mix and limit his high-leverage situations early on.

In his return Saturday, Melancon came on in the eighth inning with the Giants trailing, 3-1. The right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Nationals left fielder Adam Lind, but then retired the next three batters, stranding Lind at second. Melancon threw 20 pitches in the scoreless frame, and struck out pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick swinging.

"I thought it was a perfect situation in the eighth inning, down two, we're in the ballgame, so he's got some adrenaline going," Bochy said. "His stuff was good. For his first time out, I thought that was a pretty good outing. He made an 0-2 mistake [to Lind], but he regrouped. I thought he made some good pitches, and it was good to see him pitch well. I'm sure he was into it."

Melancon, who signed a four-year, $62 million deal in the offseason, had been on the DL since June 28 with a pronator strain in his right elbow.

While Melancon made four rehab assignments before returning to the Giants, he did not pitch on consecutive days, and the Giants would rather prevent him from pitching on back-to-back days early in his return.

"I'd like to stay away from that initially," Bochy said before Saturday's game. "I'd rather have him make that call -- how he feels the next day. But we did not check that box off in the Minor League rehab so in the early go, I'd like to stay away from it."

Melancon, 32, is 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA in 23 appearances, converting 11 of 15 save opportunities. The right-hander had 51 saves in 2015 with the Pirates and 47 last season with Pittsburgh and Washington.

"This hasn't been easy," said Melancon, who was also on the DL in early May with the same elbow injury. "It hasn't been fun. It's been a tough couple of weeks on the DL, so I'm excited to get out there and get going."

Midseason acquisition Sam Dyson has helped fill the void in the Giants' bullpen, converting eight of nine save opportunities with a 2.22 ERA in 23 appearances for San Francisco.

"He's been great. He's done an excellent job," said Melancon, teammates with Dyson at the World Baseball Classic. "I feel like we got a diamond in the rough."

While Dyson may retain the closer's role initially, Melancon said he would like to use the final two months of the season to "get back to what I've done the past three years, get back into the routine and get back to doing what I'm capable of."

In a corresponding roster move, the Giants placed infielder Miguel Gomez on the 10-day DL with right knee inflammation, retroactive to Aug. 9.

Wednesday's starter TBD

With two games Sunday, and without the benefit of a day off on their six-game road trip, the Giants need a starter for Wednesday's series finale in Miami.

According to Bochy, Matt Cain or Albert Suarez is likely to get the call. Cain (3-9, 5.22 ERA) last started July 31. Suarez (0-1, 3.72) has made five big league appearances this season, all in relief, after starting 12 games for the Giants last season.

Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Giants on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.