Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 8, Rockies 3

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 8, Rockies 3

BOX SCORE
DENVER The question has come up so often this season, yet it still seems a shock to ask it:Can the Giants win behind Tim Lincecum again?They can and they must. And since the All-Star break, they have.Lincecum overcame a wobbly first inning and pitched backwards most of the afternoon, but he held the Colorado Rockies to a run in six innings. Hunter Pence hit a pair of RBI doubles as the Giants won 8-3 to complete a three-game sweep at Coors Field.The Giants were 4-14 in Lincecum starts prior to the All-Star break. Theyve won four of five Happy Lincecum Days since then.Their hitters certainly were happy to be at Coors Field, where the Rockies are holding together their pitching staff with catgut and Elmers. The Giants outscored the Rockies 35-12 in the three-game series.They also went 20 for 52 (.385) with runners in scoring position over the three games. Yep, thatll do it.Starting pitching reportLincecum threw 36 pitches in the first inning, he labored to command his fastball the entire game and resorted to pitching backwards. His 3-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio was plenty ugly, too just the sixth time in his career he issued more free passes than punched tickets.But when you looked up, Lincecum had held the Rockies to a run over six innings. He has a 2.48 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break.Lincecum (6-11) gave up his run in the first inning, which nearly turned disastrous after he got two quick outs. It was unfolding just like Barry Zitos last start, actually. But Lincecum got the result that Zito did not, as Wilin Rosario flied out with the bases loaded.The Rockies put Lincecum in the stretch in each of the next five innings, but he used his curveball to help set up his fastball.The defense made plays behind him, too. Center fielder Angel Pagan got a good jump to catch Tyler Colvins lineout in the third inning. Most notably, left fielder Melky Cabrera caught Dexter Fowlers fly ball and made a strong throw to cut down Rosario at the plate. Catcher Hector Sanchez held his ground and absorbed Rosarios slide while hanging onto the baseball, earning a hearty pat on the back from Lincecum as he walked gingerly off the field.Lincecum threw 104 pitches in his six innings. It was a much better result than the last time he pitched here April 11, when he retired just seven of 17 Rockies hitters in what amounted to the shortest start of his career.Bullpen reportWhat a badly needed outing for Sergio Romo.The right-hander found himself in a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the seventh after George Kontos walked the only two batters he faced and Javier Lopez gave up an RBI single followed by a walk.But Romo stemmed the rally, throwing a backup slider that froze pinch hitter Matt McBride, then authoring one of his funhouse mirror-style slide pieces that Rosario swung through to end the inning.Romo had a 0.60 ERA in his first 38 appearances but hit a four-game skid in which he retired just nine of 19 batters faced. His ERA over that span went up from 0.60 to 2.20.He appeared to flush those bad vibes in the seventh, then went on to retire the Rockies in order in the eighth.Jeremy Affeldt got two quick outs in the ninth but couldnt finish, as he allowed an 0-2 single followed by a walk and an RBI single. Shane Loux entered and brought the series to a merciful conclusion for the locals.At the plateThe Giants acquired Pence to drive in runs, and thats exactly what he did. Pence hit an RBI groundout in the Giants two-run first inning and hit a double to each field while knocking in Cabrera in the fifth and seventh.Pence has five RBIs in five games as a Giant. This was his first game with multiple extra-base hits since June 24.Pences roller to second base and a passed ball allowed the Giants to take a 2-0 lead without the benefit of a hit. Rockies third baseman Jonathan Herrera bungled a potential double-play ball to set up the rally, and pitcher Tyler Chatwood had trouble throwing anywhere near the catchers glove.The Giants added a run in the fourth when Marco Scutaro and Sanchez drew walks, and after Scutaro tagged on Brandon Crawfords long fly out, Lincecum hit an RBI groundout.Pence took it from there, Scutaro added a two-run double in the seventh and Cabrera tripled in the ninth ahead of Poseys single to score his third run of the game.In fieldCabreras throw and Sanchezs block constituted the defensive play of the game in the fourth inning. As usual, Sanchez took his lumps while catching Lincecum. He got smacked on the right hand by a pitch in the first inning, and it must have numbed him up because he spiked one return throw to the mound and nearly sailed another one over Lincecums head.Sanchez singled on a curveball to lead off the second inning, though. So he mustve regained feeling in short order.AttendanceThe Rockies announced 28,804 paid. Two more months of baseball left in Denver. Jim Tracy is going to need that.Up nextThe Giants begin a four-game series Monday at Busch Stadium, with all the requisite heat and humidity of St. Louis in August. Matt Cain (10-4, 2.82) will have to tangle with NL RBI leader Carlos Beltran while opposing right-hander Jake Westbrook (10-8, 3.79). The Cardinals will send right-handers Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Adam Wainwright in the final three games of the series. Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner are lined up for the Giants.

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P