Giants, Cain seek to complete perfect homestand

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Giants, Cain seek to complete perfect homestand

May 12, 2011

ARIZONA (15-20) vs.
GIANTS (20-16)

Coverage begins at noon on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Matt Cain believes the San Francisco Giants are never out of any game until the final out is recorded. That's certainly true given their penchant for late-game heroics recently.

Cain will try to help San Francisco close a six-game run at AT&T Park with an unblemished record while seeking its third consecutive win Thursday afternoon against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who continue to come up a little short playing on the road.

After winning three of its previous four in walk-off fashion, including 1-0 in Tuesday's opener, San Francisco (20-16) rallied from an early three-run deficit and held on for a 4-3 win Wednesday.

Andres Torres' ground-rule double in the sixth inning snapped a 3-3 tie, and Brian Wilson worked out of a jam in the ninth to notch his 12th save as the defending World Champions matched their longest home winning streak from 2010.

URBAN: Sparkplug Torres is back

"If you look at what we did last year, it was somebody different it seemed like coming up with the big game-changing contribution," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Wilson has three wins and two saves during the Giants' win streak, their longest at home since Aug. 23-28, 2007.

Backup catcher Henry Blanco had two hits, including a homer, and drove in two for the Diamondbacks (15-20). Arizona has dropped eight of nine away from home, with the last four defeats all being one-run decisions, and fell to 5-11 on the road.

"We had a ton of chances early," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "We had chances to keep them from scoring, too."

For the second time in less than a month, Cain (2-2, 3.38 ERA) will be opposed by Daniel Hudson (3-4, 4.47).

On April 15, Cain gave up one run and four hits over six-plus innings to help San Francisco to a 5-2 win in Phoenix. Hudson matched a career high with 10 strikeouts in six innings, but allowed five runs, six hits and three walks.

Cain is 0-2 with a 4.94 ERA in four starts after that matchup. On Friday against Colorado, he exited after seven innings with the Giants trailing 3-1 before Freddy Sanchez's game-ending single resulted in a 4-3 win.

"We don't ever really feel like we're out of it until it's over," Cain told the Giants' official website after allowing three runs and five hits.

Cain is 2-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his last five home starts against Arizona. Both wins were complete games and included a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory on May 28, when the right-hander allowed only a two-out double in the second inning to Mark Reynolds and struck out nine.

Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew was held without a hit for only the third time in 11 road games Wednesday, but is batting .345 (10 for 27) with three homers and seven RBIs against Cain.

Hudson has turned things around lately.

The right-hander received only four runs of support over 24 1-3 innings while losing his first four starts of 2011, but has gotten plenty of help since. In winning each of his last three starts, Hudson has been given 16 runs of support through 20 innings.

On Friday, Hudson permitted five hits in seven innings of a 6-0 win over last-place San Diego.

Hudson won his only career start in San Francisco, 11-3 on Aug. 28 thanks to the Diamondbacks plating six in the first inning.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.