Baggs' Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Giants 3 (12)

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Giants 3 (12)

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Former As teammates Barry Zito and Joe Blanton traded twin outings.

Nate Schierholtz and John Mayberry Jr. traded two-homer performances.

After nine nullifying innings that felt like a tic-tac-toe marathon, the Giants and Phillies decided Sundays outcome in extras at Citizens Bank Park.

The Giants bullpen finally blinked in the 12th, when Jimmy Rollins one-out single off Brad Penny brought in Carlos Ruiz to send the Phillies to a 4-3 victory.

The Giants still managed to take two of three in both Atlanta and Philadelphia to complete a successful road trip. But they missed a chance to sweep a three-game series in Philly for the first time since 2004.

Starting pitching report
The Giants had a 4.85 road ERA when this trip began the third worst in the major leagues. So Zito stepped up in a huge way with a solid outing in Tuesdays series opener at Atlanta.

Zito ended the trip with another highly effective start at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, holding the Phillies to three runs on five hits in seven innings while setting a season high with seven strikeouts.

There were more than a few white-knuckle moments, though. The Phillies hit him mighty hard in the first inning but only got one run out of the deal.

Zito caught his first break when third baseman Pablo Sandoval snagged leadoff man Jimmy Rollins line drive. Shane Victorino walked and scored on Chase Utleys triple as the UCLA alum got the better of Zito.

But Zito, the former USC lefty, got a big assist from another Bruins alum. After Zito hit Ryan Howard with a pitch, shortstop Brandon Crawford made a deft backhand pickup of Hunter Pences grounder and threw off his back foot to start a double play.

It was a rough beginning, but Zito settled down and flashed some of the best offspeed stuff hes thrown all year. He escaped another jam in the third when he struck out Howard on a curveball that followed a series of cutters.

But Mayberry ripped a hanging, 3-2 slider in the fourth inning for a tying, solo shot. Mayberry jumped on the first pitch he saw in his next at-bat another slider, this one located a bit better that put the Phillies ahead.

Zito was undeterred by the two shots. He struck out the next two batters and issued just one walk on the day. Hes only issued two walks over his last two starts.

Bullpen report
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard probably see Javier Lopezs sidearm coming at them in their nightmares. The lefty got a double-play grounder and a strikeout from the Phillies duo in the eighth inning and Sergio Romo did his thing in a scoreless ninth.

Jeremy Affeldt was next with 1 23 innings, and Clay Hensley stranded the only runner he inherited.

Penny ran into trouble, though. First, Ty Wigginton hit a deep fly ball that Schierholtz caught as he crashed into the right field wall. But there was no defense for a walk to Carlos Ruiz, and the Phillies had runners at the corners after Laynce Nix singled down the right field line.

Rollins rifled his hit to center to end it.

At the plate
Schierholtz is really making a statement now.

Starting for the third consecutive day, the disgruntled outfielder tagged a 2-0 fastball to lead off the game. Then he barreled up a 2-1 changeup with two outs in the eighth to tie the score and prevent Blanton from winning.

The Giants only managed one other scoring rally against Blanton, and that came in the fourth when Buster Posey singled and Pablo Sandoval crushed a ball that hit a foot below the top of the wall in left-center. The hard carom allowed Posey to score from first base to give the Giants a 2-1 lead.

The Giants couldnt get Sandoval home, though. They also failed to push ahead after Schierholtzs shot in the eighth got them even. Ryan Theriot followed with a double and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel elected to have Blanton intentionally walk Melky Cabrera. It was a classic case of pick your poison, and Posey almost dug in his fangs. Right fielder Hunter Pence, a tangle of gawky limbs, barely managed to haul in Poseys deep drive with a basket catch on the warning track.

Crawford hit a leadoff double in the 12th, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn't have epically struggling first baseman Brandon Belt sacrifice him to third. Belt struck out to finish another 0-for-5 game. he's in a 2-for-27 slump since the All-Star break. Pinch hitter Emmanuel Burriss couldn't move Crawford, either. After an intentional walk to Schierholtz, Ryan Theriot flied out. It was the Giant's last chance.

In field
Crawford maintained his exceptional play at shortstop. He and Sandoval kept the Phillies from putting up a crooked number in the first inning.

Theriot added his highlight moment in the sixth when the second baseman barehanded Chase Utleys drag bunt and threw on the run to nip him at first base.

And Schierholtz nearly made the best play of all, when he came up firing after charging Blantons single in the third. Schierholtzs throw to first base was a split-second too late.

Attendance
The Phillies announced 44,551 paid. No active members of the Cody Ross fan club, we think.

Up next
The Giants must haul themselves across the country and dive right back into their next homestand on Monday. Ryan Vogelsong (7-4, 2.81) will oppose left-hander Clayton Richard (7-10, 3.86) and the San Diego Padres, who just locked up Carlos Quentin on a three-year contract and are negotiating to extend closer Huston Street as well. Madison Bumgarner (11-6, 3.12) opposes right-hander Edinson Volquez (6.7, 3.34) on Tuesday. Tim Lincecum will pitch Wednesdays series finale against right-hander Jason Marquis (3-5, 3.79).

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

READ MORE AT CSNChicago.com

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning.