Arias, Sanchez help Giants win in a pinch

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Arias, Sanchez help Giants win in a pinch

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON Division winners find the handshake line in manydifferent ways.

They can bash their way to a victory. They can stand behinda worthy ace to win 2-1. And, every once in awhile, they have to battle whendown to their last three outs, or even their last strike.

The Giants in 2010 found ways to claim those zombievictories, whether it was Juan Uribes huge home run at Dodger Stadium inSeptember or Freddy Sanchez singling off Craig Kimbrel in the NL DivisionSeries.

Its one road to the handshake line that these currentGiants hadnt traveled very often.

And as much as they would have preferred to trounce theAstros Tuesday night, as most of the league has done since the All-Star break,perhaps there is something more to be gained from entering the ninth down 2-1and entering that handshake line as 3-2 winners.

After all, the Giants were 2-50 when trailing after eight innings.Their pinch hitters had combined for a .177 average, dead last in the NL. Butafter Brandon Belt singled off a lefty, Wesley Wright, the bench camethrough. Joaquin Arias doubled in the tying run off Wilton Lopez and HectorSanchez, fully expecting a changeup, stayed back and got just enough of hisbroken-bat single to put the Giants ahead.

Sure, it came against the Astros, who mark save situations as if they were moon phases. No matter. The Giants won in a pinch, and they'll remember that the next time they need to win that way.

One more fun fact: Lo and behold, the Giants now hold a 3 -game lead in the NLWest their largest advantage of the season.

One of our biggest hits this year, Bochy said of Arias,who continues to scald the ball in August. It goes to show you how importantthe bench is. Its a tight ballgame and thats what you need. Were down tothree outs but youve got to keep fighting and they did that. Its why you gohard for 27 outs.

Sergio Romo said the Giants bullpen erupted with both ofthose pinch hits. So did Matt Cain, who had rolled in the dirt moments earlier,scowling in anger, when a wild 3-2 curveball allowed the Astros to score the tie-breaking run in the eighth.

This is great for us, to come back and win, Cain said. Thatswhat you want to be able to do with three outs left, and for those guys to stepup, I think thats going to build a lot of momentum for us during the week.

The Giants have three days left to see what the waiver wiremight bring them, but the Dodgers are behind them in the standings and might aswell have flyswatters in both hands. Its unlikely anyone who could help Scott Hairston, etc. will get through without being claimed.

So the Giants are likely to make do with the bench theyhave, and it is not an experienced lot. They have Ryan Theriot and Aubrey Huff,for whatever he might have left, will rejoin them as part of Saturdays rosterexpansion.

But Arias will get at-bats in key situations. So willSanchez.

Those guys, said Pablo Sandoval, beaming with pride, theymade it look easy.

Said Sanchez, of his single: He threw me a really good pitch,a changeup. Thats a pitch I was looking for and I tried to stay back. I brokemy bat, but I hit it in a good spot. Hey, I take it. Its a good one.

It wasnt the way the Giants wanted to beat the Astros, whoare 8-46 since June 28 the worst 56-game stretch of any major league teamsince the 1961 Phillies.

If anything, the Giants learned not to take the Astroslightly over the rest of this series and beyond, considering all but six oftheir remaining games (against the Dodgers) are against clubs that currentlyhave losing records.

I dont look at it that way and I dont want to hear it,Bochy said. Youve got to play your best ball. Thats the last thing I want tohear, or the players to hear. Youve got to be ready to go every night.

To the very end, too.

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut. Tuesday brought his first hit and on Wednesday it was the first homer. Thursday’s game was his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. What was in store Friday? The best swing yet.

Arroyo hit a go-ahead shot to left while leading off the eighth, giving the Giants a 4-3 win in their series opener with the Padres. The player coaches simply call “The Kid” has two homers in his first five games, and both have come in huge spots. Friday’s sent another jolt through AT&T Park and got a lead to Mark Melancon, who closed out the Padres. 

For four innings, a long-haired right-hander was no-hitting the Padres. Jeff Samardzija was sharp early and he got a nice cushion in the first. Joe Panik and Brandon Belt led off with singles and Panik scored on Erick Aybar’s two-out error. A Conor Gillaspie knock made it 2-0. 

The first hit allowed by Samardzija was a painful one. He plunked Yangervis Solarte to open the fifth and Ryan Schimpf hit a long dinger to dead center to tie the game. Cory Spangenberg followed with a single to left that skipped under Belt’s glove. Spangenberg went to third on the play and scored on a bloop. 

Belt made up for the play in the bottom of the inning, beating the outfield shift with a double and scoring on Mike Morse’s sacrifice fly to right two batters later. Samardzija ran into trouble in the seventh, but with two in scoring position and one out, he got a strikeout and a grounder to third. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in their half, but Hunter Pence and Morse struck out. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija has allowed six homers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL with a handful of players, including Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. 

Bullpen report: Melancon has five straight saves since blowing his first opportunity as a Giant. 

At the plate: Belt reached base four times. His on-base percentage is sitting at a cool .390. 

In the field: Panik made a brilliant diving catch in center for the first out of the ninth. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a sellout crowd. One of the fans looked just like Samardzija, possibly on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain has a 2.42 ERA but he left his last start with a tight hamstring. He’ll face Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 5.90).