Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, D'backs 2

Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, D'backs 2
September 15, 2012, 5:14 am
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PHOENIX Hunter Pence whiled away a few idle moments before batting practice chatting with reporters Friday afternoon, casually shaking his head at his strange fortunes at the plate since joining the Giants.As for Pablo Sandoval, he was just glad to be back in the lineup.No, Buster Posey cannot carry the Giants every night. Sometimes the third and fifth hitters must use the hoisting straps.Pence did his part with his third career grand slam, Sandoval contributed three hits and a game-changing defensive play, and the Giants nudged nearer to bubbly with a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field Friday night.Matt Cain pitched out of enough trouble to win his career-high tying 14th game as the Giants reduced their magic number to 11 while retaining a 7 -game lead in the NL West.Sandoval, who was benched on Wednesday after two messy games in Colorado, made a lunging catch of Chris Youngs hard line drive with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning.Starting pitching reportCain (14-5) didnt have his smoothest outing by a long shot, but he parlayed some luck, some good defense and enough well timed pitches to hold the Diamondbacks scoreless into the sixth inning.Cain needed 34 pitches to gut through the first inning, when Arizona failed to score despite three walks and a bunt single. Catcher Buster Posey caught rookie Adam Eaton trying to steal third base and Cain got Justin Upton to hit a playable foul pop to strand the bases loaded.Cain needed an efficient second inning to get his pitch count in order, so it was damaging when third baseman Pablo Sandoval fielded a potential double-play grounder and yanked his throw past second baseman Marco Scutaro and into right field. But after a sacrifice moved the runners to second and third, Cain got Eaton to hit a shallow fly out to left field and induced a grounder from Aaron Hill to escape yet another jam.The first two batters reached against Cain in the fifth, but Jason Kubel lined into a double play to defuse yet another chance.But when the Diamondbacks got the first two batters aboard again in the sixth, Bochy went to his bullpen. Cain threw a first-pitch curveball that hit Miguel Monteros foot and then Upton grounded a single to end the right-handers night.He needed 106 pitches to record just 15 outs, but he left with a shutout intact and qualified for his career-high tying 14th victory.Bullpen reportThe relievers allowed one of Cains two runners to score in the sixth when Jose Mijares allowed a single to the only batter he faced. The threat grew when Guillermo Mota entered and drilled John McDonald in the upper arm with a 2-2 pitch.Because Pence already had gotten plunked (and tossed his bat in apparent disapproval) in his first at-bat after the grand slam, umpire Jim Reynolds was compelled to warn both benches. McDonald and Sandoval had sparked a benches-clearing incident last weekend at AT&T Park, too.But the last thing the Giants wanted was to let the Diamondbacks into the game. Thanks to Sandoval, they didnt. The third baseman made up for his erratic road trip with one huge play, sprawling near the chalk to snare pinch hitter Chris Youngs atomic line drive.Jeremy Affeldt did the rest. He got Eaton to tap into a forceout at the plate, then struck out Hill to strand the bases loaded. It was an uplifting outing for Affeldt, who also had his share of erratic outings in recent days.Affeldt and Casilla teamed up to get through the seventh. Casilla pitched around a leadoff walk in the eighth. Then Sergio Romo stranded two of Javier Lopezs runners in the ninth.And Bochy still had eight relievers left.At the plateCain was an active participant in starting the Giants five-run rally in the third inning. He walked and slid hard into second base while barely beating the throw on Marco Scutaros infield single. Then after Sandoval singled to load the bases, Cain hit the dirt again. This time, he slid his foot across the plate just before third baseman Ryan Wheelers throw arrived. Buster Posey was credited with an RBI on the fielders choice as the Giants took a 1-0 lead.Then Pence widened the gap a bit. He spoiled a 2-2 changeup and jumped on the next pitch, a fastball over the plate, and sent it into the left field seats for his third career grand slam and his first since 2008 with the Houston Astros.Pences overall numbers with the Giants arent pretty since he arrived from the Phillies in late July, as he readily admitted before batting practice. But he has 34 RBIs on 36 hits. Hes been an effective run producer, which is what the Giants wanted when they acquired him.The Giants had trouble adding on from there, as Posey grounded into a double play in the sixth and the Diamondbacks executed another twin killing in the seventh on Scutaros fly out to left field with Angel Pagan on the move. Kubel made a tremendous throw to record his 13th outfield assist, setting a single-season franchise record.But the at-bat of the night heck, the season -- came with the bases loaded in the eighth. Santiago Casilla, who would stand in the on-deck circle if the batters box chalk included it, entered 0 for 1 with a walk in two hilarious career plate appearances. He bailed out after showing bunt on the first pitch, then amazingly, he fisted the next one for a ground ball that snuck through the right side for an RBI single.Casilla remembered to deliver the Pagan salute. But he forgot to turn right instead of left after he ran through the bag, and had to scramble back to first base to avoid being tagged out.Casilla now has a Moneyballesque .667 on-base percentage in his career. And to think, the As let him go.In fieldIt took a weird spin, some improvisation and a caucus of umpires for the Giants to record one of their strangest outs of the season in the third inning.Paul Goldschmidt topped a pitch that spun from foul to fair, catcher Buster Posey pounced on it, and to avoid hitting the runner with a difficult angle, he threw the ball like a kid skipping stones on a pond. First baseman Brandon Belt picked it, but umpire James Hoye called the runner safe. Manager Bruce Bochy came out of the dugout to argue, and after a consultation, the umpires called Goldschmidt out. (Which prompted an even longer and more animated discussion with Arizona manager Kirk Gibson.)There was nothing quirky about Sandovals snare in the seventh, though. That was a game saver.AttendanceThe Diamondbacks announced 31,856 paid on a shockingly cool and pleasant night in the Sonoran Desert. The roof was open. Guess who saved money on their electric bill?Up nextThe Giants continue their three-game series at Chase Field on Saturday. Barry Zito (11-8, 4.33) will try to claim a 12th victory for the first time in six seasons as a Giant. Zito is 2-0 in three starts against Arizona this season but has a 5.86 ERA in 11 career games at Chase Field. Hell oppose left-hander Wade Miley (15-9, 3.07), who leads all NL West pitchers in victories.