Giants shut out behind Lincecum, drop series

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Giants shut out behind Lincecum, drop series

Aug. 18, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARDATLANTA (AP) -- Mike Minor knew he couldn't afford any big mistakes going against two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.Instead, it was Lincecum who cracked.Minor pitched six crisp innings and Chipper Jones homered off Lincecum for the only run, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 1-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night.
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"He's obviously the better pitcher," Minor said. "It's a big win."The left-hander pitched brilliantly, allowing just four hits and one intentional walk while striking out a season-high nine. Only two runners got as far as second base against Minor (3-2), who didn't flinch when Cody Ross led off the game with a double."Instead of giving in, I tried to bear down," Minor said. "I knew if he scored, that would be a big run."Lincecum (11-10) was no slouch, surrendering five hits in seven innings with seven Ks. But the wiry right-hander made one pitch he wanted back, serving up a high fastball to Jones leading off the fifth. He sent a drive soaring into the right-field seats for 11th homer, giving the Braves all the offense they would need."You know you're not going to hit too many homers off Lincecum," Jones said. "He made one mistake, and that's all we needed."Lincecum was trying to go inside with the pitch, but it faded back over the plate."Chipper's a great hitter," the Giants starter said. "I gave up that one timely home run. That cost me."Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel closed out the five-hitter with one inning apiece. Kimbrel struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 37th save in 42 chances, breaking a tie with Todd Worrell for the most saves by an NL rookie since 1969.Worrell had 36 saves for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1986. Kimbrel is closing in on the major league mark for rookies, set just last season by Texas closer Neftali Feliz with 40.Kimbrel has not allowed a run in his last 28 appearances, covering 28 2-3 innings. Over that span, he's given up a mere nine hits and eight walks, with a staggering 48 strikeouts."I'm glad I don't have to face anybody in our bullpen," Jones said.The four-game set was similar in style to the thrilling NL division series between the teams last fall. San Francisco knocked off the Braves 3-1 in the playoffs, with every game decided by one run. This time, Atlanta took three of four, the games decided by a total of five runs.The Giants had to use a makeshift lineup because of injuries, while the Braves showed off some of their impressive young pitching talent. Randall Delgado threw six-plus innings of one-hit ball on Tuesday before heading back to the minors. Another rookie, Arodys Vizcaino, picked up his first big league win in that game. Minor finished the series with another strong effort."It's almost embarrassing how many young pitchers who can help this club we have at the minor league level," Jones said.The Braves won six of seven against San Francisco this season. Atlanta's latest win stretched its lead in the NL wild-card race to six games over the Giants, who came in 2 12 games behind Arizona in the NL West."We might face these guys later on," Jones said, referring to the playoffs. "Every mental edge we can get is helpful."Atlanta wasted a chance against Lincecum in the fourth. Michael Bourn led off with a single and raced around to third on Brian McCann's one-out double into the right-field corner. But Dan Uggla struck out swinging and Freddie Freeman grounded out.Freeman came up with a brilliant defensive play in the fourth, sprawling out on the rolled-up tarp to make a great diving catch on Aubrey Huff's foul popup."We've just got to find our luck," Lincecum said. "We've got to find it soon."NOTES: Braves RHP Peter Moylan will begin a rehab stint at Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday and likely will rejoin the Braves when the rosters expand Sept. 1. ... San Francisco was without closer Brian Wilson for the third night in a row. He's bothered by a sore elbow, though the Giants are hopeful he won't have to go on the disabled list. ... RHP Derek Lowe will start for the Braves in the opener of a three-game series against Arizona on Friday. Lowe is 6-9 with a 4.14 ERA in 19 career starts against the Diamondbacks. ... The Braves lost two previous meetings at Arizona in May. ... The Giants continue their road trip with their first three games of the season against Houston. ... Ryan Vogelsong will try to improve to 3-0 in his career against the Astros, who will be in San Francisco next week for a four-game series.

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.