Baggs' Instant Replay: Mets 2, Giants 1

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Mets 2, Giants 1

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO The New York Mets couldnt have blown more chances to break open Wednesday nights game if they were Olympic badminton players.They loaded the bases four times with two outs or less against Matt Cain and a sloppy Giants bullpen, yet strangely, pathetically, found themselves clinging to just a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning.But the Giants committed the greater sin. They didnt make the Mets pay.Hunter Pence was held hitless in his Giants debut and his teammates mustered only two other hits besides Buster Poseys solo home run in a 2-1 loss at AT&T Park.The Giants lost for the sixth time in seven games yet retained their one-game edge in the NL West courtesy of Arizona's sweep at Dodger Stadium. The Diamondbacks are now just 2 12 games back, though.Starting pitching reportIts rare to see Cain (10-4) fight himself on the mound and throw pitches all over the place. Its just as rare to see the bullpen break into activity in the third inning of a Cain start.It was that kind of night. Ruben Tejada homered on the second pitch of the game and Cain pitched through SIG alerts in each of the first three innings while stranding five runners.But Cain somehow kept the Mets from busting the game open. The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the third but Cain only allowed one run to score on a fielders choice.Cain struck out David Wright to end the threat, but not before nearly hitting him with a curveball -- flashback to the scary pitch a few years ago that struck Wrights helmet and sent him to the hospital in New York.The bullpen got active after Cain walked the first two batters in the third inning, but after a visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti, the right-hander struck out Jason Bay and got a strikeout-double play when Buster Posey threw out a runner at third base.Posey threw out another runner to get Cain out of the fifth inning. But the biggest defensive play was from center fielder Gregor Blanco, who laid out in spectacular fashion to take an RBI double away from Jordany Valdespin in the fourth.The catch was every bit as good as Blancos unforgettable grab that preserved Cains perfect game June 13.Bullpen reportGeorge Kontos threw a scoreless sixth inning but needed help in the seventh after the Mets loaded the bases on two walks and second baseman Ryan Theriots error on a potential double-play ball.Left-hander Javier Lopez entered and conveniently punched up another double-play grounder, and shortstop Brandon Crawford adeptly started the twin killing.Lopez has stranded 40 of 45 inherited runners this season.The Mets blew another chance to take command in the eighth, and it got ridiculous. Clay Hensley was all over the place as he loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter. But Josh Thole grounded into one of the oddest double plays youll ever see. First baseman Brett Pill threw home for the forceout at the plate, and Thole was ruled inside the baseline when catcher Buster Poseys throw glanced off his shoulder and bounced into right field.Hensley issued another walk to load the bases again, but Theriot atoned for his earlier error by making a diving stop and throw from his knees to retire Tejada and end the inning.Would you believe the Mets loaded them again in the ninth against Brad Penny? This time the Giants escaped when Penny snared Jason Bays line drive, threw to first base to double off the runner and roundhouse-punched the air.At the platePence was just 3 for 20 in his career against lefty Jonathon Niese, who threw a fire blanket on the right fielders enthusiastically received debut game.Niese threw a curveball that Pence popped up in foul ground, stranding two runners in the first inning. Pence reached in the fourth, but only while striking out on a wild pitch.Posey took Niese deep in the sixth inning to cut the Mets lead in half. It was just the 17th home run by a Giant in 52 games at AT&T Park this season; Arizonas Jason Kubel owns that many by himself at Chase Field.Pence couldnt follow up by putting another in the bleachers, though. He grounded out to end the inning.Angel Pagan, who missed two games after bruising his hand in a fit of frustration, lined out as a pinch hitter.Pence had one last chance in the ninth but struck out on a borderline outside pitch.In fieldSure, the Mets wasted chances. But the Giants also made the plays to end innings. Blancos catch was the best of them, but Theriots diving stop in the eighth and Pennys snare in the ninth were impressive, too.AttendanceThe Giants announced 42,188 paid on Jerry Garcias birthday. It was also Madison Bumgarners birthday. San Francisco legends, kindred spirits.Up nextThe Giants complete their disappointing, 10-game homestand and their four-game series with the Mets on Thursday afternoon. Left-hander Barry Zito (8-7, 3.89) opposes Mets right-hander Chris Young (2-5, 4.58).

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

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USATSI

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren’s graduation.

Baker said he will rejoin Washington when it begins a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday, near Baker’s offseason home. Bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties against the Padres.

Baker’s son Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He’s committed to play college baseball at Cal.

As a 3-year-old bat boy, Darren was rescued from a potential home plate collision by J.T. Snow in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series between Baker’s Giants and the Angels.

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

CHICAGO — As they packed up at AT&T Park eight days ago, the Giants talked of taking their momentum on the road. It sounded pie-in-the-sky given the way they had played in April and on the previous trip, but when they took the first two in St. Louis, players started to believe they had finally turned the corner. 

And then came a Sunday loss, and three of four at Wrigley Field. There was no happy flight Thursday. The Giants lost 5-1, again looking flat against a less-than-elite pitcher, and ended up with a 3-4 trip. They’ll finish the first two months of the season without a winning road trip. They're 9-19 away from AT&T Park. 

“It’s disappointing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Once you win the first one here, you’re hoping you get greedy and take the series, but we didn’t. That’s disappointing.”

The Giants entered the road trip with a 6.62 starters’ ERA on the road, but pitching wasn’t the issue. Sure there were too many meatballs — most of the 10 Cubs homers in this series came on pitches left right over the fat part of the plate — but the starters did their job. The lineup couldn’t keep up. The Giants had just five hits Thursday and finished the trip with 24 runs in seven games. They started the trip nine games out in the West and finished 11 back of the Rockies, their largest deficit since 2013. 

“You come here and take the first game with our (top) guys throwing after that and you’re hoping for a better result,” Jeff Samardzija said. “We started out good and that St. Louis series puts you in a good spot to salvage the trip. We’ll go home now with six solid games on our home turf and they’re six big games for us.”

The Braves and Nationals come to town. The Giants will see Jaime Garcia on Friday, followed by Mike Foltynewicz and R.A. Dickey. 

--- Samardzija’s run without a walk ended at 154 batters when Ian Happ drew a free pass in the seventh. The streak was the best of Samardzija’s career. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said he got treatment on a tight hamstring throughout the game and he’ll go in early Friday to continue treatment. He hopes to start Friday. 

--- Christian Arroyo was hitless in three at-bats, dropping his average to .191. Before the game, Bochy talked at length about Arroyo’s recent struggles and the plan with him going forward. 

--- If you missed it earlier, I took a tour of the visiting bullpen here. After going in there, I talked to some more pitchers about what they don’t like. It seems to mostly be the fact that you’re separated from the game. One said some of the relievers who pitched Monday had no idea it was raining because they had been getting loose inside for several innings. Seems like there’s a pretty easy fix here: The Cubs can just turn part of that Under Armour wall into a chain-link fence, or have some sort of window that opens up to the outside but doesn’t interfere with outfielders. Maybe next year …