Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cardinals 2

August 8, 2012, 3:08 am
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ST. LOUIS Buster Posey is putting up video-game numbers. Barry Zito is putting up his best work when its least expected.And Jeremy Affeldt looks like the Giants new man in the ninth inning, in deed if not in name.Poseys three-run home run gave the Giants the lead in the first inning and Zito stayed aggressive, pitching into the seventh without walking a batter as the Giants defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night.Starting pitching reportBack in April, Zitos season debut was a shutout at Coors Field -- proving that baseball is more unpredictable than the weather or the derivatives market.His odds were just as long Tuesday night. Zito entered with an 11.35 ERA in three career starts at Busch Stadium, he was coming off one of his worst outings of the season and the Cardinals talented, right-handed heavy lineup had just made patient, potent work of Matt Cain a night earlier.But Zito (9-8) worked into the seventh inning, he didnt walk a batter and the only runs he allowed came when Cal alum Allen Craig hit solo homers in the third and fifth. (Cal triumphs over USC in all athletic endeavors, right?)It was just the 15th time in Zitos 384 career starts that he completed at least 6 23 innings without walking a batter.The most important out that Zito recorded came in the first inning. Just like his previous start against the Mets, he got two quick outs before the Cardinals threatened on Matt Hollidays single and Carlos Beltrans double. But unlike last time, when the Mets tallied four runs, Zito escaped when David Freese grounded out to shortstop Brandon Crawford.Zito was past his toughest level, too. Entering the game, he had allowed 20 of his 64 runs in the first inning.Zito even brought the universe a little nearer to equilibrium with Skip Schumaker, who entered 7 for 12 off the left-hander. The Cardinals leadoff man went 0 for 4 and struck out on a pitch that hit him.Bullpen reportAffeldt might not be the Giants closer in name, but he is in deed.Clay Hensley got the final out in the seventh and Sergio Romo recorded two outs in the eighth before Yadier Molina hit a double. Affeldt did the rest, retiring Jon Jay and then plowing through the ninth inning to record his third save of the season.Affeldt started a double play when he fielded a comebacker, then struck out Daniel Descalso to end it.Strangely, Santiago Casilla had warmed up in the seventh inning (as did newest Giant Jose Mijares), but it was Brad Penny not Casilla who warmed up behind Affeldt in the ninth.Perhaps Casillas troublesome blister is an issue again.At the platePosey has his own video game app called Buster Bash, and as someone whos downloaded the free game, I can tell you it gets significantly harder to hit home runs after Level 1.In real life, and at the highest level, Posey must have all the pass codes. After his three-run home run off 13-game winner Lance Lynn, these were his video-game numbers since the break: .446 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 22 games.His 30 RBIs since the break are the most by any major leaguer. He has homered in five of his last six games. His hitting streak is up to 11 games, too.Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro singled ahead of Poseys shot off Lynn, which was one of those typical Buster blasts that just kept on carrying to center field.The Giants blew a chance to add to their lead in the second inning, after Nos. 7-8 hitters Brandon Crawford and Joaquin Arias opened it with a double and a single. Zito executed a sacrifice to move Arias into scoring position, too. But after Pagan walked, Scutaro grounded into a double play.They hit into some tough luck when center fielder Jon Jay made a running catch of Pagans deep drive to the warning track to strand two runners in the fourth. Right fielder Carlos Beltran reached near the top of the wall to catch Hunter Pences drive with a man aboard to end the fifth.But the Giants caught a break in the sixth when Brandon Belt, who was running with the pitch to Crawford, stutter-stepped around a tag to avoid a strike em out-throw em out double play. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny argued that Belt was out of the baseline, and it appeared he had veered onto the grass. But Belt was ruled safe and he scored when Arias followed with a double.In fieldThe Giants made outs on the basepaths on consecutive pitches in the seventh inning. Marco Scutaro was thrown out trying to steal second base, then Melky Cabrera doubled on the following delivery. He was thrown out trying to stretch a double, as Beltran recorded his second assist in as many games.AttendanceThe Cardinals announced 41,293 paid. It was the eighth sellout of the season at Busch Stadium. We long for the days when actual Clydesdales paraded around the field during the Seventh Inning Stretch.Up nextThe Giants play the third game of a four-game series at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. Ryan Vogelsong (9-5, 2.38) shoots for his second victory of the road trip. Hell oppose hard-throwing rookie right-hander Joe Kelly (2-4. 3.14), whose ERA suggests it should be easy as pi to hit him.

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