Giants establish winning pattern, sweep Cubs

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Giants establish winning pattern, sweep Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO Ryan Vogelsong woke up with a worried mindMonday morning.

Three guys pitched into the ninth? Thats a little pressureto follow, the All-Star right-hander said.

But Vogelsong followed suit, and the Giants finally timedtheir trump card to sweep a series and complete what could become aseason-defining homestand.

Their 3-2 victory over the distracted, defeated Chicago Cubsgave them six wins in seven games at AT&T Park and the Giants did it byestablishing the exact paradigm that they envisioned.

RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Giants 3, Cubs 2

Pitching. Defense. More pitching. Timely hits. Goodbaserunning. And Tony Bennett.

The Giants were 12-10 at AT&T Park before this homestandbegan, and they trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers by 7 games in the NL West.They are now back to their winning ways at Third and King and they are within2 games as their archrivals prepare to take the field Monday night.

In completing their first sweep of the season (a four-gamer, no less), the Giants' rotation was brilliant. The starting pitcherscombined for a 1.55 ERA while completing seven innings and giving up fewer thantwo runs in all seven games. Its just the second time in San Franciscofranchise history the club has received seven consecutive starts of that ilk.They had a run of nine in a row in 1988-- from Don Robinson, Mike LaCoss (twice), Kelly Downs (twice), Atlee Hammaker,Terry Mulholland (twice) and Rick Reuschel.

Its hard to beat that, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Said catcher Buster Posey: To me, I feel like theyve beendoing it all year a couple years since Ive been here, really.

The difference this time? The Giants played errorless ballin their six victories. They committed just one error on the entire homestand.And thats after leading the majors in miscues for most of the season.

Not only are the fielders playing clean games, they also aremaking plays to pick up the pitching staff. Witness Ryan Theriots highlightsweep-and-grab play on Starlin Castro to keep the tiebreaking run from scoringin the seventh inning. The play ended Vogelsongs afternoon, and the Giantsmade a winner of him when Posey who walked four times -- scored in the bottomof the seventh.

I gave him a big hug after that one, Vogelsong said of Theriot.Its pretty amazing. You dont see a guy sweep at it like that and have it popup. Its a pretty athletic play to barehand it and throw in one motion.

That play probably saved the game for us.

Said Theriot: I was hoping it was in my glove. My hand wasnumb, it was hit so hard. It was in my glove briefly, and luckily, it came upright in front of me.

The Giants are playing crisper and smarter than theircompetition, although against the Cubs, thats like matching wits against theguy from Sling Blade. (Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro probably wont enjoy theflight back to the Midwest after losing track of the outs while the Giants tiedthe score on a fielders choice in the fifth inning.)

They are even finding ways to time their contributions,whether its the offense sneaking out runs despite a total power outage (onehomer in their last 19 home games seriously) or the bullpen finding ways topiece together the ninth despite a rash of injuries, or the starters workingdeep to give the bullpen a break.

It was Jeremy Affeldts turn on Monday. With SantiagoCasilla unavailable because of a bruised knee and Sergio Romo also questionablebecause of a knee issue, Affeldt pitched the final two innings without allowinga baserunner to pick up the save.

We have a bullpen who can do it, are able to do it and havethe stuff to do it, Affeldt said. Obviously, were getting it done so itseasy to say that.

They are getting the rest to do it, too. The bullpen onlyneeded to throw 10 23 innings out of 64 on the homestand. Thats fewer thanfive outs per game. And Affeldt said the relievers needed the break, after beinggassed when the club finished a stretch of 20 games in 20 days last Sunday.

The only thing the Giants lacked on the homestand was a goodol blowout victory to rest a few starters like Angel Pagan or Melky Cabrera.The aggregate score over the seven games was 19-13.

No surprise, really, since the Giants havent found anextension cord at AT&T Park. They have played 13 consecutive home gameswithout going deep the second longest in San Francisco-era franchise history(behind a 15-game streak in 1980) and the longest by a major league team sincethe Dodgers had a 14-game power outage at home in 1992.

Is it really sustainable? Can the Giants keep winning withRBI ground outs and a string of singles?

Well, weve done it, Bochy said. Not quite lacking thepower like we are right now. But when you have an added dimension like speed,thats going to show up every day.

The home runs are nice and I think we will hit more. I do.Were in a rut now but Pablo (Sandoval) will be coming back soon.

For now, were going with defense. Any time you win theseone-run games, its pitching and defense. Really, thats what is doing it.

What, should Vogelsong worry?

Weve talked about it, he said. You have to learn how towin and I think were starting to do that.

Ex-Giants 3B signs deal with Yomiuri Giants in Japan

Ex-Giants 3B signs deal with Yomiuri Giants in Japan

TOKYO — Former Detroit Tigers infielder Casey McGehee has agreed to a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Central League worth $1.7 million.

The Giants announced the signing on their official website on Sunday.

McGehee played in 30 games for the Tigers in 2016 posting a .228 batting average.

This will be McGehee's second stint in Japan. In 2013, he batted .292 with 28 home runs and 93 RBI while helping the Rakuten Eagles of the Pacific League win the Japan Series.

The 34-year-old can play either first or third base.

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

While the Giants aggressively pursue a new closer, they haven't been aggressive for a new left fielder.

Angel Pagan is a free agent and isn't likely to come back. That leaves talented, but unproven youngsters Mac Williams and Jarrett Parker.

And for GM Bobby Evans, who is always looking for ways to improve the roster, it appears he is content going into the 2017 with Williamson and Parker filling the void in left field.

"Our mindset has been to keep an open mind in any way we can improve the club offensively. But that said, I feel like we've got a starting lineup today that we don't have to adjust or improve upon. I'd always like to find ways to improve it. I think there are some big market options, but we've got two young guys that we want to get a good evaluation on, and you can't really do that until they get major league at-bats. That's Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker and both of them are really in-waiting for an opportunity to get everyday playing time and show what they can do," Evans told ESPN's Buster Olney on Friday.

But Evans is keeping an open mind regarding acquiring a left fielder.

"That said, I also have to make sure that if we have an opportunity to improve or solidify our lineup in some way, I want to take advantage of it. But I can't lose sight of the benefit of developing our own guys and giving them a chance and not locking ourselves into keeping them from playing time in the next two to three years" Evans said.