Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 5, Cubs 2

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 5, Cubs 2

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO What a lift the Giants could get from this guy down the stretch.

Xavier Nady? Well, sure. But Tim Lincecum, too.

Nadys first at-bat in a Giants uniform was one to remember a three-run double that gave the Giants a lead they would not relinquish in a 5-2 victory at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon.

Lincecum has been so leaky so often this season, but he only paid for one mistake and otherwise looked refreshed and invigorated in cooler conditions while holding the Cubs to four hits in 6 13 innings.

The Giants improved to 4-1 with one game to go on their road trip to Houston and Chicago. Theyre grateful for that, and for the remnants of Hurricane Isaac for not disrupting play. The last thing they wanted was a doubleheader on Sunday, especially with more rain in the forecast plus a day game looming at AT&T Park on Monday, too.

Starting pitching report
Despite some early wobbles, including a two-seamer that David DeJesus crushed into the right field bleachers for a two-run homer in the third inning, Lincecum delivered one of his better starts of the season.

Lincecum (8-14) wasnt struggling to invent ways to retire hitters. He had many more weapons at his disposal as he threw several changeups and curveballs to escape big spots.

He threw a curveball that froze Alfonso Soriano to strand Anthony Rizzo at third base in the third inning. In fact, Rizzos double was the last hit that Lincecum allowed.

Lincecum held the Cubs to four hits, he walked three and struck out seven in 6 13 innings. He didnt have seven strikeouts in any of his five starts in August.

Bullpen report
Lincecum departed after a one-out walk to Wellington Castillo in the seventh, and the bullpen made sure to save his ERA. Jose Mijares and Guillermo Mota each recorded a called strikeout to end the inning.

Javier Lopez made it 22 consecutive scoreless outings by getting a double-play grounder to end the eighth before Sergio Romo took the mound for the ninth.

At the plate
The Giants four-run first inning started innocently enough with Pablo Sandovals two-out single. Buster Posey added another and Hunter Pence walked to load the bases for Hector Sanchez, who let a 2-2 pitch graze his jersey to drive in a run.

Then Nady, wearing No. 68, made an impact in his first at-bat in a Giants uniform.

Both Pence and Sanchez saw eight pitches, and Nady was paying attention. He laced a 1-0 sinker down the third base line and into the left field corner, clearing the bases to give the Giants a 4-0 lead.

It was the first time a Giants left fielder had a three-RBI game since Melky Cabrera on Aug. 12. Cabrera was suspended three days later for testing positive for testosterone.

The Giants added a run in the second inning after Angel Pagan tripled his 10th of the season, getting him within two of matching the San Francisco-era franchise record held by Willie Mays and Steve Finley. Marco Scutaros sacrifice fly brought him home.

In field
DeJesus was a two-way threat. In addition to his home run, he made a remarkable backhanded catch while sliding on the dirt near the right field foul line on Posey in the fifth inning. Replays showed the ball wouldve landed fair for what wouldve been Poseys sixth hit in his first six at-bats of the series.

The Giants received more subtle defensive contributions. Shortstop Brandon Crawford somehow was able to hang onto a throw as DeJesus immediately slid into his glove on a stolen-base attempt in the fifth. And Angel Pagan slid to a knee while making a running grab on Luis Valbuena in the sixth.

Hunter Pence made a sliding catch on a pop-up to shallow right field in the ninth inning.

Gregor Blanco replaced Nady in left field in the sixth inning. Prior to that, Nady did just fine while cutting off one ball in the gap to prevent a double.

Attendance
It was kegs and eggs at Wrigley Field with the 12:05 p.m. CDT start. The Cubs announced 32,477 paid.

Up next
The Giant complete their three-game series at Wrigley Field on Sunday. Matt Cain (13-5, 2.82) opposes left-hander Travis Wood (4-11, 4.71).

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.