Giants look to Cain for three-game win streak

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Giants look to Cain for three-game win streak

Sept. 13, 2011PADRES (63-85) vs.
GIANTS (77-70)Coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on CSN Bay Area(AP) -- The San Francisco Giants' NL-worst offense has suddenly found its groove, which may be good news for starter Matt Cain.The right-hander takes the mound as San Francisco seeks to win three straight for the first time in nearly two months Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park.The Giants (77-70), last in the league with a .238 team batting average, have totaled 16 runs and 20 hits in their past two games after scoring two runs while losing their previous three contests.Pablo Sandoval, batting .400 during a seven-game hitting streak, had a three-run homer in a four-run seventh inning during Monday's 8-3 win over San Diego."It's good to see the guys loosen up and swing the bats like we're capable of," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're trying to finish up strong. We're hanging by a thread, but it's not over."The reigning World Series champion Giants trail Arizona by 8 12 games with 15 remaining and need plenty of help to get a chance to defend their title in the postseason."We're not going to give in," said Cody Ross, who homered and had three hits Monday. "We're the defending champs and we've got something to prove. We're going to play through and see what happens."The Giants haven't won three consecutive games since July 17-19, losing their last six when coming off back-to-back victories.Cain (11-10, 2.84 ERA) hopes to help halt that trend, though the offense hasn't provided much support for him throughout the season.Cain has been solid of late, going 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA over his last five starts, but he lost his most recent outing 3-1 to San Diego on Wednesday after allowing two runs in seven innings.It marked the 19th time this year that Cain has received two runs or fewer of support, and he's one of three Giants starters - Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum the others - who rank among the bottom five in the NL in run support average.Cain has experienced a similar trend when facing the Padres this season, receiving nine runs in 27 innings over four starts. Cain is 0-2 with a 3.67 ERA in those outings, dropping him to 1-5 with a 4.70 ERA over his last eight starts against San Diego.The Padres (63-85) have lost nine of 12 to San Francisco, though Cain has started two of the Giants' defeats.Cory Luebke (5-9, 3.28) started the other San Diego victory, and he'll look to break out of a slump Tuesday. Luebke has lost his last three starts, posting a 5.87 ERA during that stretch after giving up two runs in 5 2-3 innings of Thursday's 4-1 defeat at Arizona.The left-hander, though, has pitched well in both of his starts against the Giants. He struck out eight while allowing two runs in six innings of a 2-1 loss July 7, then gave up two runs in seven innings to beat San Francisco 11-3 on July 16.Like Cain, Luebke hasn't received much help from his offense lately. The Padres have scored three runs in his 15 1-3 innings during his three-start skid.Nick Hundley and Chris Denorfia each went 3 for 4 on Monday. Hundley is 9 for 16 over his last four games, while Denorfia is hitting .600 in six contests since returning from the disabled list.Hundley, however, is 1 for 12 lifetime against Cain.

Pau Gasol's lofty praise for Warriors: 'In all my years in the league...'

Pau Gasol's lofty praise for Warriors: 'In all my years in the league...'

The Warriors are NBA Finals bound for the third straight year.

Following their Game 4 victory over the Spurs on Monday night, Pau Gasol opened up about the Western Conference champions.

“They’re in a groove,” Gasol told Courtney Cronin of the Bay Area News Group. “They know what it takes to win and obviously they’ve been champions, they’ve established records that have never been set before and they’re on a path to get another championship.

"In all my years in the league, they’re playing at the highest level right now.”

Gasol entered the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 draft.

He won championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

The Warriors are the first team in NBA history to enter the Finals with a record of 12-0.

Their average margin of victory in the playoffs is 16.3 points.

Giants notes: Blach shows resiliency; another option in center?

Giants notes: Blach shows resiliency; another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.