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).

Michael Morse will stick with Giants, work way up from Triple-A

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USATSI

Michael Morse will stick with Giants, work way up from Triple-A

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Morse isn't ready to give up on his comeback. 

Morse, sidelined by a hamstring injury, said he will continue to rehab with the organization, with the plan of eventually going to Triple-A and working his way up to the big leagues. Morse hasn't played since getting hurt March 20 in Glendale. He was initially given a two-to-three week diagnosis, but because he wants to let the strain heal completely, he anticipates missing closer to a full month. 

Morse said he's on the same page with general manager Bobby Evans. He will get healthy at the minor league facility in Scottsdale.

"I'll then go to Triple-A and play games and figure it out from there," he said. "I'm going to get healthy and play some games and if that point the team is 20-0, I know I probably won't get called up. If they need me, that'd be great."

The Giants are hopeful it works out. Before getting hurt, Morse had three spring homers and was in position to make the opening day roster. Without Morse, the Giants are light on right-handed power options for the bench. 

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

BELT RIVER FIELDS, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Brandon Belt moved his schedule around so he could get additional at-bats. That led to some random trips across the desert, but there was never any doubt Belt would be in Friday’s road lineup.

Belt demolishes the ball at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. After coming out of Friday’s win, he shook his head in mock disgust when talking about the day’s stats.

“One for four, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” Belt said. “That’s terrible.”

That one happened to be a homer, a three-run shot off Jon Gray, the likely opening day starter for the Rockies. Belt thought he crushed the ball but it ended up pretty high, so it simply dropped onto the berm in right. 

“It squeaked out,” Belt said. “Good mojo, I guess.”

The mojo kept his remarkable run going at Salt River. His updated career stats here: 22 for 35, with eight homers, four doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Belt said he’s not quite sure why he turns into the flames emoji every time he steps onto this field. 

“I don’t know what it is, but I like hitting here,” he said. “Maybe it’s the batter’s eye?”

Salt River has a dark green batter’s eye with no distractions on either side, and the Giants certainly saw the ball well Friday. They had seven straight hits in the third before Gray was pulled with a sore foot. Belt hit second, and manager Bruce Bochy said that wasn’t simply because Joe Panik had the day off. Bochy will look at several different lineup permutations over the next week, and a Span/Belt/Pence/Posey/Crawford one-through-five is one option. 

“I like (that spot) a lot,” Belt said. “I feel good getting started and knowing I’ll get to bat in the first inning. It’s a good spot. I don’t think my approach changes that much: Get a pitch to hit and try to hit it hard.”

GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija was sharp in four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He threw about 45 pitches on the field and then went down to the bullpen for 45 more. Samardzija certainly benefited from having Buster Posey back in the lineup. He said Posey noticed during warmups that Samardzija’s delivery was a little flat and his arm was dragging too low. 

“That doesn’t happen often,” Samardzija said of having a guy like Posey back there. “You have a lot of catchers who are afraid to say something.”

The rest of this one was a laugher until the ninth, when the Rockies rallied and brought the winning run to the plate. It hasn’t been a great spring for the bullpen.

STOCK WATCH: Chris Marrero hit a deep homer, his seventh of the spring. He also made a nice pick at first, where he looks much more comfortable. At this point, it appears it’s either Marrero or Kelby Tomlinson for that final bench spot.

TRAINER’S ROOM: The news on Will Smith was as expected. He will have Tommy John surgery next week. 

There is good news for Trevor Brown: The catcher, who has a sore ankle, took some swings and he’s feeling much better. Brown did not, as first reported, get hurt hiking on an off day. It happened during a game. Brown won’t be ready in time to return to Cactus League action, so he’ll likely stay here during the Bay Bridge Series and then travel home with Triple-A Sacramento. 

ICYMI: Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Mark Melancon are back in camp. Here’s a story on Posey’s WBC experience, with the catcher saying he’d like to play again in four years. Here’s Crawford on his month, which ended with him giving an NL West rival a slump-busting bat. 

ROSTER UPDATE: The Giants released David Hernandez, at his request. They have started to tell others that they’re not making the opening day roster, so there should be a series of minor transactions this weekend. (You know where to go.)

QUOTABLE: "I swung at a heater and a slider went right into my bat. I was happy to be able to track (pitches), and happy that the next time the bunt didn't go off my beautiful face." -- Samardzija, when asked about his double off the wall.