EXTRA BAGGS: Time to start 'MVP' chant for Posey, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Time to start 'MVP' chant for Posey, etc.

BOX SCORE

SAN DIEGO Here are the numbers that Buster Posey ownssince the All-Star break:

A .439 average. Fifty hits in 114 at-bats. Ten doubles andnine homers, too. And 35 RBIs in 32 games.

If he were playing his own video game, hed have accumulatedenough sunflower seeds to buy a riding lawnmower. (If that reference sounds bizarre, you haven't downloaded "Buster Bash.")

Posey was 3 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI doubleSaturday night, continuing to smoke one pitch after another to right field asonly he can.

When he lasered another to right in the ninth inning, hehustled another double out of it. He didnt let up even as the Giants wereleading 7-5, and even though he already had caught five pitchers on a warmnight at Petco Park.

Its a good thing Posey kept playing all out. He was able toscore on Hunter Pences double, and that run proved invaluable when the Giantswere pushed to the limit before escaping with an 8-7 victory.

Lets also recall that Posey threw out Cameron Maybin tryingto steal second base in the second inning an inning in which the Padresloaded the bases with no outs against Barry Zito, yet only squeezed one run outof it. Poseys throw minimized that threat.

It was somewhere between that throw and that hustle doublein the ninth that I realized: Posey truly is, at this moment, the most valuableplayer in the National League. As amazing as Andrew McCutchen has been for thePirates, Posey has transformed himself into a dominant presence in the middleof the Giants lineup while also contributing at the most important defensivespot on the diamond.

You could make up a nice spreadsheet and compare Posey toMcCutchen in every statistical category. Im sure McCutchens WAR is justdandy.

But every MVP candidacy is built on a narrative, too. And what a story would it be if the Giants, led by Posey in the middle of theirlineup, persevered to win the NL West without Melky Cabrera. What would it tell youif the Giants suddenly lost the player who was leading the major leagues inhits and runs scored, then managed to stay in first place over the final 45games?

It would say that Poseys impact is undeniable. And hisvalue is inestimable.

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Good lord. Posey has 50 hits since the All-Star break.

And yes, I know I already mentioned that once.

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I didnt need to ask Bruce Bochy if Posey would becatching Sunday afternoons series finale in San Diego. If Bochy had planned torest Posey, he wouldve given him his break Saturday night and had Hector Sanchezwork with Barry Zito. When Posey was in the lineup to catch Zito, you knew hewould play the following day, too.

Sure enough, Bochy said Posey would be in there.

The Giants faced a left-hander Saturday and theyll getanother on Sunday. Cabrera, its been noted, had the third highestaverage against lefty pitchers of any major league hitter. He was hitting .395.

Posey ranked second. He entered the game at .423.

So as the Giants look to find a consistent lineup againstlefties, youd better believe Posey will be a part of it.

And, as he said after Saturdays game, Regardless, at thispoint in the year, its time to push it a little more. I want to be out thereas much as possible.

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Pablo Sandoval will be back in Sundays lineup as well, eventhough he did more running than a refrigerator with a bad seal.

He tripled, slid with a thud when he scored on a sacrificefly, then had another inelegant slide when he scored from second base on asingle.

His strained hamstring survived intact.

I dont think twice. I just go, Sandoval said of his triple.

But he acknowledged that third base looked off in thedistance as he picked up coach Tim Flannery.

I see the base so far, he said, smiling. Its likeFlannery pulled the base out.

Sandoval said he was still 90 percent.

What about Sunday? Maybe 91

Still 90, he said, smiling and exhaling.

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In minor league news, Heath Hembree is moving back to Triple-A Fresno after five hitless innings for Single-A San Jose. The Giants wanted Hembree to start out slow at San Jose after missing more than a month with a strained flexor mass in his forearm.

I don't think Hembree will be a candidate to close for the Giants this season. But if he's healthy and effective, and if the reports are good over the next several weeks, then absolutely the Giants will be open-minded to bringing him up in September.

One other minor league note: For the first time in his pro career, Gary Brown started a game someplace other than center field Saturday night. He started in left field and Juan Perez was in center for Double-A Richmond. I'm not sure what that means, but GM Brian Sabean said just the other day he didn't envision Brown playing in the big leagues this season. Anyway, the situation bears watching.

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What has been the key for the Giants offense while scoring18 runs in two games at Petco Park?

They arent striking out. Before Angel Pagan got rung up inthe sixth, the Giants didnt have a strikeout in Saturdays game.

Thats a beautiful thing for Bochy, who was so frustratedearlier in the season when the Giants failed to make contact in RBI situations.They simply arent enough of a power team to justify all those strikeouts, hesaid.

Weve talked about it. Weve discussed it, Bochy said. Theyrefighting up there more. Theyre doing a better job of putting the ball in play,cutting down their swing. We had to cut down in that department. And the guys reallyhave made a concerted effort to do that.

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As mentioned elsewhere in our coverage, Bochy had a quickhook with Barry Zito. He said having a 13-man staff allows him to do that.

The next item to note: Will Bochy have a similar hook withTim Lincecum the rest of the way?

Im guessing ... yes.

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

SAN FRANCISCO — With the winning run on second and a bat in his hands, Cory Gearrin allowed himself to dream. He was a second baseman at Mercer University years ago and he entered the night with a 1.000 batting average in the big leagues. Why couldn’t this be his night on the mound and at the plate?

Gearrin stopped on the way to the plate and told Buster Posey that he was going to walk it off. He dug in against right-hander Chad Qualls and waited for the first sinker. He swung over the top of it, but he felt it was a quality hack. And then he missed the next sinker, and then the next. 

“I felt good going into that at-bat,” Gearrin said. “It was fun getting that opportunity. I’ve never faced a sinker like that. I felt like I missed it … by a lot.”

Gearrin can take solace in two facts. First, using his own sinker, he pitched three shutout innings, more than earning his keep, and he was a well-deserved winning pitcher in a 4-3 win over the Rockies that became official one minute after midnight.

Second, perhaps he gave the next hitter, Denard Span, a better view of an opposing pitcher’s repertoire. 

“Yeah ... he gave me a lot of information during that at-bat,” Span said as he laughed. 

Okay, so maybe Gearrin’s contributions were limited to the mound, but oh what a job he did against one of the best lineups in the National League. Span didn’t glean anything from Gearrin’s brief battle, but he didn’t need to. He spat on a changeup and then ripped a sinker into right, allowing Gorkys Hernandez to race home for a 14th-inning victory. 

Span, who is open about his distrust of birds, had spent nearly two hours standing under a circling flock of seagulls. Between pitches, he often dropped his hands onto his knees, looking more eager than anyone for the night to end. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me,” he said. “I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.”

The single gave the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. It validated so much good work, from the five relievers who got the ball to Gearrin, to the Brandons who turned a snazzy double play in the 11th, to Buster Posey, who twice threw out runners at second in extra innings. Gearrin shouted out the defense in his post game media session. 

“It’s not news to us that we’ve got gold glovers all over the field,” he said. 

The Giants trailed by a pair after Matt Cain hung a curveball to Mark Reynolds, but they chipped away. The Rockies were the jumpier team in extra innings, but every rally was cut down by stellar defense and quality pitches. Gearrin threw 34 of them. 

The veteran right-hander had never before recorded more than six outs in a big league game. He got nine outs Tuesday, giving Bochy one extension after another as he battled to make it through a game shorthanded. With Conor Gillaspie headed to the DL, the Giants had just three position players on the bench. That meant Ty Blach was used as a pinch-runner. Jeff Samardzija pinch-hit in the 11th. Bochy thought of using Matt Moore in the 14th when the pitcher’s spot came up. Hunter Strickland was warming up to pitch the 15th, but …

“I could have hit Moore — I probably should have,” Bochy said, smiling. “But Cory is a pretty good athlete and had a pretty good average going into that at-bat. The numbers swayed me.”

Gearrin got his first career at-bat last season and singled. He has not even taken batting practice since that day, but he was fired up when given the opportunity. He was still so fired up after the Giants chased Span into the outfield that he didn’t mind the fact that his shiny 1.000 batting average has been cut in half. 

“I got to use that line for a year,” he said. “But I’ll gladly sacrifice the 1.000 average for a walk-off win.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This, at long last, is a winning streak. A modest one, but still. 

Denard Span hit a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 win that became official one minute after midnight. The Giants have back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. 

The Giants led early, fell behind on a three-run dinger, and then chipped away until the game went to extras. Buster Posey twice gunned runners down at second to help keep the score tied and the bullpen held tough, with Cory Gearrin throwing three scoreless innings. 

Gearrin had a chance to win it for himself in the 14th, but he struck out with Gorkys Hernandez on second. Span promptly singled. If you’re just waking up for work, here are five things to know from a night when the seagulls outnumbered the humans … 

--- Matt Cain needs an assist on the first run of the night. With Gorkys Hernandez on first, he got a sacrifice bunt down on a two-strike curveball that was headed for the dirt. Hernandez went to second and promptly scored on Denard Span’s single to right. The curveball wasn’t so kind in the sixth. With a runner on, the Giants intentionally walked lifelong nemesis Nolan Arenado to get to Mark Reynolds. Cain hung a curve and Reynolds crushed it to left for a three-run homer. 

--- The Giants got a run back in the sixth when Brandon Crawford’s deep fly allowed Buster Posey to trot in from third. Crawford leads the majors with nine sacrifice flies. He also turned a ridiculous double play that can’t adequately be described, except to say that he should expand his trophy case. 

--- Kelby Tomlinson came off the bench to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. His single to right brought Brandon Belt in from third. Tomlinson is 9 for 27 as a pinch-hitter this season. That’ll keep you on the chartered jets. 

--- Sam Dyson, with a fastball that reached 97 and an infield defense that was just as firm, pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings in extras. What a find. 

--- With the go-ahead run on first and no outs in the 13th, Nolan Arenado put down a sacrifice bunt. That's one of the five best moments of the Giants' season.