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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 8, Dodgers 4

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 8, Dodgers 4

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LOS ANGELES The Giants jetted away on their road trip to Petco Park and Dodger Stadium still in shock over the season-long suspension of Melky Cabrera. They responded by winning both series.But they had to muddle through Wednesday night without Buster Posey, too.No matter. The Giants finished a statement trip with the appropriate punctuation in their archrivals den, as Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Joaquin Arias went from supplemental to starring roles in an 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.The Giants entered Chavez Ravine on Friday as a second-place club in the NL West. They departed in first place, with a 2 -game lead over their archrivals.BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Game 1 Game 2
Matt Cain picked up the baton and fired seven strong innings to finish the Giants first three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium since April 24-26, 2007.How long ago was that? Well, Matt Morris, Noah Lowry and Kevin Correia were the winning pitchers in that series. Barry Bonds hit his 741st career home run to get within 14 of matching Hank Aarons all-time record. And heavens strike me if I lie, Armando Benitez saved all three games.Cain is the only current Giant who was on the roster for that sweep six years ago. Hes a keeper, all right.The Giants rotation flat-out dominated in this series while going 3-0 with an 0.95 ERA.With Posey scratched because of a tight right hamstring, Pagan and Scutaro combined to kickstart another productive first inning, and Arias did the rest. He hit a two-run home run, added a pair of doubles and set a career high with five RBIs.It was the third consecutive series between the clubs that ended in a sweep.Starting pitching reportThe Giants went 5-1 on their road trip and Cain set the tone last Friday when he fired eight shutout innings at San Diego.Cain (13-5) finished the trip the way he started it. He kept the ball off the barrel, executed pitches with runners on base and involved his defense to remain unbeaten in his last seven starts against the Dodgers.Cains best pitch in seven innings might have been the 2-2 piece of straight filth that he threw to Shane Victorino a slider at the ankles that the Flyin Hawaiian waved through to strand runners at second and third in the sixth.Cain held the Dodgers to seven hits and one run, which came in the sixth only because Hunter Pence failed to haul in a catchable ball in right field that was scored a double.Cain lowered his ERA to 2.83, tied with Madison Bumgarner for sixth in the NL (and barely ahead of Ryan Vogelsong, at 2.85). Cain threw 65 of 101 pitches for strikes, he struck out five and did not walk a batter.BAGGARLY: Bumgarner gives Giants a performance for the ages
In fact, Giants starters issued just one walk to the Dodgers in 22 innings over the series. Cain, Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum combined for 19 strikeouts and just two earned runs allowed.Bullpen reportClay Hensley and Jeremy Affeldt combined to retire just one of five batters, leading to a three-run eighth inning. Santiago Casilla didnt earn a save, but it felt like he deserved one after recording the final five outs to stave any memories of Wayne Franklin.At the plateThis series was won in the first inning. The Giants scored in the first inning of all three games, going 7 for 12 and scoring six runs. The Dodgers, meanwhile, were 0 for 9.It started yet again with Pagan and Scutaro, who went double-single to start the game against Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano. Pablo Sandoval hit a sacrifice fly to open the scoring and Arias hit his third career home run, two of which have come on this road trip.Pagan hit .481 (13 for 27) with eight runs scored over the six-game trip, ending it with a sharp lineout. He collected leadoff hits and scored in the first inning of all three games at Dodger Stadium.Scutaro had a hand in that. He hit .385 on the trip (10 for 26) and collected two hits on all three nights at Dodger Stadium as the Giants improved to 48-16 when they score the first run of a game.And Arias was a wrecking crew on the trip while making four starts against left-handed pitchers, going 9 for 16 overall in those games. Notably, both his doubles on Wednesday came off right-handed relievers.Capuano had allowed 19 earned runs all season at home before giving up six. Pagan, Scutaro and Sandoval went single-double-single to chase him in the sixth.In fieldIs it possible Arias has played a better major league game? In addition to his contributions at the plate, the shortstop ranged deep to his right to glove Victorinos grounder in the third, then heaved an off-balance throw that barely beat the speedy runner.The Dodgers would have had runners at the corners with two outs in the third. Instead, Cain and the Giants jogged to the dugout.Hunter Pence was the bizarro Arias. He looked totally out of sorts while striking out twice and popping up. And he got turned around in right field by Andre Ethiers catchable drive in the sixth, which was scored a ground-rule double.That mistake led to the only run against Cain. But the right-hander benefited from some spectacular outfield defense, too.Left fielder Justin Christian made one of the greatest catches by a Giant all season. He sprinted and laid out while making an improbable catch of Juan Riveras drive in the left field corner in the seventh. Christian rolled hard in the dirt and didnt stop until he crashed into the wall, but appeared OK after a few minutes to get his bearings.It was a huge contribution for Christian, who drew a bases-loaded walk but otherwise is hitless in his last 18 at-bats over 11 games.AttendanceThe Dodgers announced 40,173 paid As owner Lew Wolff among them.No, Lew. The As cant move here, either.Up nextThe Giants return to AT&T Park for a brief, four-game homestand against the Atlanta Braves in what will be Chipper Jones final regular-season series in San Francisco. Barry Zito (9-8, 4.42) will pitch Thursday nights opener against right-hander Tommy Hanson (12-5, 4.27). Ryan Vogelsong (10-7, 2.85) starts Friday against right-hander Ben Sheets (4-3. 3.07). Itll be Madison Bumgarner (14-7, 2.83) on Saturday against left-hander Mike Minor (6-10, 4.74). Then Tim Lincecum draws Sundays finale against right-hander Tim Hudson (12-4. 3.69).

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”