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).

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

CHICAGO — Had a half-dozen other things gone differently Wednesday night, the Giants might have spent the hour after the game shrugging off a blowout loss or celebrating one of the best at-bats of the year. 

Three innings after the game was nearly lost for good, Mac Williamson saw 12 pitches from Wade Davis, who entered with a perfect ERA in 19 appearances, fouling eight of them off before slamming a two-run homer to right. The play came with some comedic value, as Williamson nearly passed Eduardo Nuñez on the bases. It also came with some historic value, as it snapped a streak of 19 consecutive solo shots that was two shy of the MLB record. 

The homer was not, however, the talking point after the game. A few minutes after Williamson went deep, Joe Panik was tossing his bat into the grass in frustration over a called third strike that ended the game and clinched a 5-4 win for the Cubs. Ten minutes after that, Bruce Bochy watched the highlight and tossed his phone onto his desk. 

“It’s a shame to end on that call, it really is,” Bochy said. “We had him on fumes and that’s not a strike. But they got the call and that’s it.”

The Giants were left with their third loss in four games, a run that has halted their momentum. They again are 11 games back in the National League West, with so many nights like this one: A comeback seemed real, but the mistakes were too much to overcome. 

Williamson, in talking about his homer, pivoted and pointed to a blunder of his own. In a tied game in the fifth, Miguel Montero hit a single to right with Addison Russell on first. The speedy shortstop watched Williamson as the ball rolled into the outfield, and when Williamson didn’t charge as hard as he otherwise might, Russell took off for third. The throw was perfect, but late. Russell scored on a fly ball. 

“The home run is really cool but it would have been a lot cooler if I hadn’t have made the mistake earlier in the game and given them the extra run,” Williamson said, explaining that he has tried to focus on being smooth to the ball and not rushing on fast outfields. In the past, rushing has led to bobbles and extra bases. 

Another costly sequence came in the eighth. After the Giants left the bases loaded in the top of the inning, Steven Okert gave up a triple to Jason Heyward, who scored on a sacrifice fly. Okert, so good when he was first called up, has been less effective of late. 

“We’ve got to get our lefties going,” Bochy said. “We gave them a run there and that put it at three and that’s just enough to cover it for them.”

Truth be told, the Giants were probably lucky to even have worries at that point. The wind blew a three-run Heyward homer inches foul in the sixth, and while the Giants grumbled about the final call of the game, an earlier call on Heyward for running inside the base path took a Cubs run off the board and killed a rally. It was correct by the letter of the law, but one you rarely see. The Giants escaped, but they wouldn’t come all the way back, despite Williamson’s late push. 

The young outfielder has been looking to make an impact since coming back up on the last homestand. He knew how tough Davis has been. 

“He’s been the best in the game this year and the numbers speak for themselves,” Williamson said. “He has phenomenal stuff. You get in the box and figure you’ve got nothing to lose, battle as tough as you can.”

Williamson fouled off good strikes and tantalizing balls. When he lofted a 2-2 pitch toward right, he took off out of the box. The ball carried just over the wall, and Williamson didn’t look up until he rounded third. That’s when Phil Nevin started yelling at him to slow down. Nuñez, who had a tight hamstring, turned and told Williamson to slow down.

“I kinda blacked out for a second there,” Williamson said. 

“I was like, ‘Bro, it’s a homer — just jog,’” Nunez said.

The moment temporarily sent a rush through the dugout. Minutes later, the Giants were left livid over a game that probably shouldn’t have been so close, but nonetheless was right there for them to steal. 

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

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CHICAGO — The Giants will need a win on getaway day to clinch their first winning road trip.

Wednesday's comeback attempt fell just short, as the Giants scored two in the ninth but lost to the Cubs 5-4. Since taking the first two games in St. Louis, they have dropped three of four, falling 11 games back of the Rockies in the division.

Here are five things to know from the coldest Giants game of the year … 

— Mac Williamson fouled off eight pitches before going the opposite way against Wade Davis, who entered with a 0.00 ERA in 19 appearances. The two-run homer ended a run of 19 consecutive solo shots by the Giants, two short of their own MLB record. It was the first homer off Davis in two years. 

— The sixth inning was one of the stranger escapes we’ve seen from a pitcher this season. With two on and one out, Jason Heyward blasted a Matt Moore pitch right down the line and it looked like it would give the Cubs a 6-2 lead. The wind blew the ball a couple of feet foul. Heyward then topped one down the line and Moore’s throw bounced away from first, allowing a run to score. But the umpires called — correctly — Heyward out for running inside the line. It’s a call you rarely see. Moore then struck out Addison Russell to keep what could have easily been a 6-2 or 4-2 game at 3-2. 

— Before the first game of this series, a Giant asked in the dugout, “I wonder what some of the Cubs’ numbers would look like at our place?” Anthony Rizzo is a .159 hitter with no homers in 18 career games at AT&T Park, but he had no issues on a night when conditions were worse than they are most nights in San Francisco. Rizzo homered off Moore in his first two at-bats. 

— Rizzo will occasionally put a bunt down to beat the shift — he had an accidental bunt in his third at-bat — which the Giants have long wanted Brandon Belt to do. Belt pushed one away from the shift in the sixth, and even though it was too close to pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the throw was off and Belt reached second. One of those a week would open up a few more holes. 

— This lineup has made a habit of making mediocre and downright bad pitchers look good, and the actual good ones are taking advantage, too. A night after Jon Lester recorded his first complete game of the year, Hendricks threw seven innings for the first time.