Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cubs 3

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cubs 3

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Every angle favored the Giants against the Cubs on Friday.

The Giants were 12-2 in Madison Bumgarners last 14 home starts. The Cubs were 2-9 against left-handed starters, and they were facing a very good one.

And hey, the Cubs are having a pretty bad century.

The Giants did what good teams do. They played crisply against an obviously inferior team, then barely survived for a 4-3 victory. Melky Cabrera stayed sizzling into June, Angel Pagan put himself into the club record book and Bumgarner took a shutout into the ninth inning.

But he allowed consecutive singles to start the ninth, and even though hed thrown just 102 pitches, Giants manager Bruce Bochy didnt let him try for his first career complete game.

The game got interesting in a hurry. Santiago Casilla entered, served up a three-run homer and only retired one of the next three hitters. Whats worse, he walked off the mound with the assistance of a trainer after he tried to make a play on Darwin Barneys infield chopper.

Javier Lopez entered with the tying and go-ahead runners on base and got a ground ball and a fly out to preserve Bumgarners victory and Bochys head from the postgame rotisserie.

The Giants are four games behind the reeling Los Angeles Dodgers their smallest deficit in the NL West since May 8.

Starting pitching report
Bumgarner entered with a streak of three consecutive losing decisions. He snapped it emphatically while setting a season high with 11 strikeouts.

Bumgarner got ahead with his fastball and used his changeup and curveball to keep the Cubs consistently off balance. He needed strikeout stuff in the first inning when Cubs leadoff man Tony Campana singled, advanced on a balk and stole third base with one out. Bumgarner struck out the side to strand him.

He allowed consecutive singles in the second inning but used a double-play grounder and a strikeout to escape. He didnt allow another runner into scoring position until the ninth.

Over his last three starts, Bumgarner has 28 strikeouts in 21.2 innings.

Bullpen report
Casilla was wild from the outset. He missed very high while falling behind Soriano, then paid for a mistake in the zone as the Cubs made it 4-3 with one swing. It was the third homer allowed by Casilla this season; he allowed just one all of last year.

After a ground out and a double, Barney hit a tapper to the left of the mound. Casilla planted awkwardly and threw across his body while bouncing his throw. He appeared in obvious pain and walked off the field with assistant trainer Mark Gruesbeck.

Lopez entered with runners at first and second and did not blink. Steve Clevengers ground out advanced both runners, and then pinch hitter David DeJesus flied out. The Giants outfield joined in a celebratory hip check and Lopez recorded his second save in three seasons with the club.

At the plate
Cabrera used a day off to rest, but not to rest on his laurels. Following an impossibly good 51-hit May, Cabrera kicked off June with a single and a triple in his first two at-bats.

The Giants got their No.2 hitter on base in front of Cabrera, too. Ryan Theriot continues to show life since he came off the disabled list, reaching base in each of his first four plate appearances with a double, two singles and a walk.

Leadoff man Gregor Blanco, who entered with a .401 on-base percentage, led off the first inning with a walk and scored easily when Theriot ripped a good, down-and-in pitch for a double down the left field line. Cabreras single moved Theriot to third and Buster Posey hit a sacrifice fly to shallow center field. The Giants had the Cubs well scouted; third base coach Tim Flannery sent Theriot, who scored easily on center fielder Tony Campanas noodle arm.

Theriot and Cabrera ignited the Giants for another two-run rally in the third. Theriot lined a single and Cabrera got the barrel on an outside curveball, lifting it over Campanas head for a triple. It was his seventh of the season; hes already just five away from matching the San Francisco-era franchise record of 12 set by Willie Mays in 1960 and matched by Steve Finley in 2006.

Posey followed with a single up the middle to score Cabrera and give the Giants a 4-0 lead.

Pagan already has his own place in the Giants record books. When he blooped a single in the third inning, he extended his home hitting streak to 25 games the longest by a Giant going back at least to 1918, when data is available.

Pagan was hitless in the home opener but has hit safely in every game at AT&T Park since then. He accepted a line of handshakes and hugs in the dugout after he was erased on a double-play grounder.

In field
All of Bumgarners strikeouts didnt lull his infielders to sleep. They turned a pair of double plays behind the left-hander.

Cabrera had the other highlight, when he cut off a single and threw a photon to second base to prevent a Cubs runner from thinking two. Theriot and shortstop Brandon Crawford shared a look of disbelief.

It wasnt as rosy for the Cubs, who probably couldnt have beaten the squad of potential draftees the Giants worked out on the same field a day earlier. Two Cubs infielders let Joaquin Arias foul pop drop in the second inning. And Starlin Castro was thrown out trying to steal in the third when Joe Mather apparently missed a sign and took a strike down the middle. Castro slowed up and appeared confused as he was tagged on the chest.

Attendance
The Giants announced 41,100 paid. Its the 110th consecutive regular-season sellout at AT&T Park. Cubs fans are not entitled to a refund.

Up next
The Giants and Cubs continue their four-game series with a 4:15 p.m. game Saturday. Itll be right-hander Matt Cain (5-2, 2.79) vs. right-hander Matt Garza (2-3, 4.22).

It seems almost cruel, but with a victory, Cain would even his career record at 75-75. The criminally unsupported All-Star pitcher hasnt been .500 for his career since May 31, 2007, when he was 22 years old and took the mound with a 17-17 record.

Giants lineup: Ruggiano moves up against lefty Lester

Giants lineup: Ruggiano moves up against lefty Lester

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for Game 2 of the four-game series in Chicago:

Giants (20-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P (4-3, 4.50 ERA)

Cubs (22-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Willson Contreras (R) C
8. Addison Russell (R) SS
9. Jon Lester (L) P (2-2, 3.57 ERA)

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.