EXTRA BAGGS: Dodgers willing to take on toxic assets

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EXTRA BAGGS: Dodgers willing to take on toxic assets

SAN FRANCISCO The face of the National League West couldundergo another dramatic change in the next 24 hours.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are more eager to give awaycash than the Publishers Clearing House, are reportedly in agreement to takethe injured Carl Crawford and the fried chicken-loving Josh Beckett off theBoston Red Soxs hands in order to get difference-making first baseman AdrianGonzalez. The deal could become official as soon as Saturday.

The players coming to LA are owed somewhere near 275million in guaranteed salary. It remains to be seen how much cash the Red Soxare willing to contribute in what will go down as one of the biggesttoxic-flush trades in baseball history.

Itll be a huge influx in the Dodgers clubhouse, too.Beckett was at the center of last years controversy that cost Boston managerTerry Francona his job. And Gonzalez was said to be fed up there, too.

(Do you remember back in 2010, when Gonzalez spoke openlyabout his impending free agency as the San Diego Padres were desperately tryingto hold on to first place in the NL West? That should tell you something...)

The Dodgers already picked up a noted malingerer inHanley Ramirez, although he has appeared motivated while making a steadycontribution in the middle of their lineup.

The trade, if it happens, will give the Dodgers offense atremendous boost. But it remains to be seen how the players will come together.Will their clubhouse become a powder keg? Or will they come together like happymisfits, the way a certain team did in 2010?

These current Giants have the luxury of a three-game lead, and thecomfort that they dont really need to care either way about who the Dodgers get. The way players in the Giants clubhouse see it, their house is alreadyin order. And strangely enough, Id argue that Melky Cabreras suspensionhelped them to coalesce to a certain degree. Whether it was mutual anger or some other emotion, it brought them together and theyare playing with more of a united front than at any time this season.

I think were just really were just focused on playingour game, right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said. Guys are focused on what they cando and thats translating to wins. Its when youre struggling that you try todo more than you can. I like the fact that everyone is just really focused oncontributing.

As for the Dodgers? Did they feel they needed to break thebank to compete with the Giants for the division?

I guess thats a question youd have to ask them,Vogelsong said. If they get those guys, Ill worry about them when I have toface them.

The bottom line: If the Giants keep pitching extremely well,it wont matter. They won't be caught.

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Javier Lopez recorded his third save in a week, which has tobe a record for him. But if he hadnt retired all three hitters in the ninth,it wouldve been Clay Hensleys assignment to pitch to Dan Uggla.

So as the media crowded around Lopez again, Hensley watchedfrom his locker and shook his head with joking disapproval.

Nobody likes a closer-by-committee situation. But if yourein it, you might as well have fun with it.

And by the way, having that third lefty in Jose Mijares isone of the reasons that manager Bruce Bochy has been able to get his matchups inthe eighth and ninth. He used Mijares in the seventh and still had Lopezavailable for the middle of Atlantas lineup, which went left-switch-left-left.

When youre going closer-by-committee, you want to keepyour options open, and (Mijares) is allowing us to do that, Lopez said.

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It sure sounds like Guillermo Mota will be joining theGiants when hes eligible to return Aug. 28 from his 100-game PED suspension.Manager Bruce Bochy said Mota is throwing well for Triple-A Fresno and continues to show hecan contribute down the stretch.

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As for Brad Penny, he made a one-inning start for Single-ASan Jose and allowed an unearned run on two singles with a walk and nostrikeouts.

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As for Aubrey Huff, he is back in the home clubhouse andcontinues to get treatment on his knee, but Bochy said hes in a holdingpattern.

Hard to imagine Huff joining the club before rosters expandin September, if at all. When youre in a holding pattern, you eventually makea smooth landing or you run out of fuel and crash.

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Bochy, asked if Vogelsong was not happy to be lifted inthe seventh inning:

Hes never happy when he comes out, the manager said, smiling.

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

SAN FRANCISCO — The momentum generated by Christian Arroyo and Michael Morse late Wednesday night lasted just a few hours. By the end of this four-game series, the Giants were left with a harsh reality: Even with two injections of new blood, they are not hitting. 

Arroyo drove in another run Thursday, but that was it for a lineup that couldn’t support Matt Moore’s effort. The bullpen, which had kept Bruce Bochy’s guys in close games all series, finally broke in the 10th. The Dodgers walked away with a 5-1 win and a split of a series that was rather uninspiring for both sides. 

After scoring 10 runs on the last road trip, the Giants scored just eight during the four games against the Dodgers. Three of those RBI came from Arroyo, called up Monday. A fourth came from Morse, called up Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get this offense going,” Bochy said. “It’s a better offense than what we’re doing right now. You need to find a way to put a few runs on the board. We had our chances, we just couldn’t find ways to get the big hit.”

With Denard Span out for at least another week, Bochy moved Hunter Pence to the top of the lineup. His temporary No. 3 hitter against lefties, Eduardo Nuñez, has one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Buster Posey, the cleanup hitter, is batting .357, but he has driven in just three runs this month. With two on and one out in the eighth, he bounced into a double play. The production closer to the bottom of the order has been nonexistent, leading to constant shuffling that has moved Nuñez and Belt to left at times. Bochy said the staff will continue to search of a lineup that works. 

“You talk about it and do thing to adjust, and it will get better, but right now we’ve got some guys who aren’t swinging the bat well, to be honest,” he said. “You look at the order and we don’t have a lot of guys swinging well.”

The list does not include Arroyo, the rookie who will eventually have to deal with adjustments from pitchers. It doesn’t appear that’ll be a problem. Arroyo has been making adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He did so against Sergio Romo for his first career homer and said he learned about the depth of Julio Urias’ curveball during their first two battles Thursday. In the sixth, the 21-year-old Arroyo drove in the game-tying run against the 20-year-old Urias. The lefty had walked Posey to face Arroyo, who singled up the middle. 

“He handles himself so well,” Bochy said. “They walked Buster and he smokes the ball. This kid has shown he’s not in awe. The upper deck, the bright lights, he comes to play.”

Arroyo’s effort briefly backed Moore, who was sharp in seven innings. Moore struck out eight, six of them looking, but he didn’t get much help and the bullpen fell apart in the 10th with a series of walks.

Bochy challenged his starters on Saturday at Coors Field and they responded with a strong series back home. The bullpen was tested during the first week but — Thursday’s result aside — it has settled down. The Giants are not as worried about their pitching as they were as they flew back from Denver. They know, however, that this team is going nowhere if two runs per game continues to be the nightly output. 

“We’ll tweak it again,” Bochy said of his lineup. “We'll see if we can get this thing right.”

Instant Replay: Moore tosses gem, but Giants lose to Dodgers in extras

Instant Replay: Moore tosses gem, but Giants lose to Dodgers in extras

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Quietly over the past couple of weeks, Bruce Bochy’s bullpen had started to settle. Bochy praised the group before Thursday’s game, noting that roles were being defined by pitchers who entered the series finale with the Dodgers with a 0.94 collective ERA this season. That changed in the 10th inning Thursday.

Three relievers combined to give up four runs on four walks and three singles. The implosion ended with a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers and a split of this four-game series. 

For most of the game, this was a day when youth shined. Corey Seager celebrated his 23rd birthday with a solo homer in the first on a two-strike pitch from Matt Moore that caught the heart of the plate. The Giants will be dealing with Seager for years, and if all goes according to plan, there will be years of Julio Urias vs. Christian Arroyo battles, too. 

The 21-year-old third baseman won the first matchup, lining a single to center. Arroyo flew out in his second at-bat against the 20-year-old Urias, but they faced off a third time in a big spot. Brandon Belt drew a one-out walk in the sixth and went to third when a pickoff throw skipped down the line. After an intentional walk of Buster Posey, Arroyo lined another one back up the middle. Urias stuck his glove up but it ticked off and into center for a game-tying single. 

Arroyo ended the young lefty’s day. Moore was done after seven sparkling innings. He struck out eight, six of them looking. 

The game went to extras, and Cory Gearrin walked pinch-hitter Adrian Gonzalez to lead off the 10th. Chase Utley was called up to bunt but he couldn’t get it down. Instead, he hit an infield single off Steven Okert that stayed true to the third-base line. After a walk of Yasmani Grandal, the third straight pinch-hitter, Andrew Toles lined a single to center to give the Dodgers a lead and the wheels soon came off. 

Utley alertly tagged up and scored on a pop-up to foul territory. Justin Turner’s single extended the lead to three and Hunter Strickland’s four-pitch walk of Chris Taylor pushed another across. 

Starting pitching report: Moore gave up 19 hits and 11 earned runs in his two previous starts, but the Dodgers had just two hits, the Seager homer and a Chris Taylor single. Taylor reached third with one out, but Moore got Scott Van Slyke and Cody Bellinger to go down looking. 

Bullpen report: Mark Melancon came on in a non-save situation for a second straight day and pitched a scoreless ninth. 

At the plate: Buster Posey’s hitting streak ended at 12 games. He twice bounced into double plays.

In the field: Posey chased a high pop-up down the right field line in the fourth, but he was going to come up short. Kelby Tomlinson came out of nowhere with the helping hand, making a running catch near the visiting bullpen. Posey smiled and shook his head as Tomlinson whipped the ball back to the infield. 

Attendance: The Giants said they sold out a 500th consecutive game.

Up next: The Giants have a three-city road trip coming up, so it’s time to take advantage of a weekend at home against the Padres. Jeff Samardzija and Luis Perdomo get the opener.