SAN FRANCISCO Pablo Sandoval took exception to John McDonald's non-slide into third base in the eighth inning of Wednesday's loss to Arizona, offering words and a threatening physical approach after his hard tag sent McDonald sprawling -- and out -- to the ground.The benches quickly cleared, although nothing more than words were exchanged, and if it sounds familiar, it's because this isn't the first time Sandoval has raised the emotional investment in a game started by Madison Bumgarner.Just as he said when he bowled over Houston Astros catcher Chris Snyder to score in a 5-1 Giants win back on July 13, "It's part of the game," Sandoval said Tuesday. But the July collision at home plate is part of the game. A benches-clearing scrum after a forceout at third base is not."Pablo felt like he elbowed him in the chest," Bochy clarified. "Tempers flare." Bochy seemed to hit it on the head with that second comment. Sandoval, who was retired on a 1-6-3 putout off the pitcher's glove in the Giants' seventh-inning rally, saw a chance to make his presence felt by the D'backs in another way, and he took it.Sandoval finished the game 0-for-4 after going 7-for-15 with four RBIs in his previous four games, but his strong emotions didn't carry over into the clubhouse, where he met the media unflustered."Moments like this happen," Sandoval said. "You don't think about it. It's part of the game"Although Sandoval claims he was under control at the time, it took his childhood friend from Venezuela Gerardo Parra, who was the most vocal in his attempt to quell Sandoval's emotions, to ease the big third baseman. The bear-hug from third base umpire Greg Gibson didn't hurt either."I was calm," Sandoval said. "I'm not that kind of guy. I don't like fights."Like them or not, it's clear the 240-pound Sandoval won't shy away from contact, and it's clear his team has his back."I was in the clubhouse," Bumgarner said. "Or I would have been out there. I don't know what his intentions were, but yeah."And by the way he said it, you knew he would have been the first one on the field barking.--Madison Bumgarner allowed four earned runs over six and one-third innings and lowered the ERA of the starting rotation since Aug. 28 from 7.88 to 7.51."As a group," Bochy said. "We're not throwing as well."And while he felt Bumgarner's outing was The Giants have been fortunate that their lapse in pitching has coincided with a torrent of offense. But it will be difficult, as Tuesday's starter Trevor Cahill showed, to maintain an offensive output that is nearly two whole runs higher than their 4.39 average runs per game.The Giants starting pitchers, who owned the fifth-best staff ERA in the majors at 3.60 just a week ago, feed off each other. What the Giants need more than anything is a deep and dominant outing -- a vintage outing -- from Tim Lincecum against the Dodgers on Friday.--While the players downplayed the importance of the upcoming three-game home series with Los Angeles, they know it's pivotal. Twenty six games remain for the Giants, and six of those games are against the Dodgers. If the Giants let the Dodgers hang around, it could all come down to the final series of the year -- a three-game set between the Giants and Dodgers in Chavez Ravine.The Dodgers, who lost 4-3 to the Padres and Carlos Quentin's sacrifice fly, remain four and one-half games behind the Giants in the NL West. RELATED: MLB standings"It's a big series," Bochy acknowledged. "Every game is important. It's going to be intense out there. That's why you play the game. That's what you look forward to."
--The Giants didn't do the things a baseball team needs to do to win Tuesday; they were hurt offensively by double plays, and defensively by two-out hits. Five of the Diamondbacks' six runs were knocked in with two outs."Two out hits killed us," Bochy acknowledged.It started with Miguel Montero's two-out single in the first inning that plated the first run of the game. It continued in the fourth when John McDonald's single scored Chris Johnson for the second run of the game. And it didn't stop in the seventh, when Paul Goldschmidt, Montero and Chris Johnson strung three hits together to score another three, all with two outs.On the other side of the ball, the Giants grounded into double plays to end their only run-scoring rally in the seventh, and a potential rally in the eighth.It was a late-inning trend in the losing series to Arizona. In Tuesday's extra-innings loss, the Giants grounded into another two double plays, including Hector Sanchez's 4-6-3, that abruptly ended the eighth inning while the bases were loaded.--The Giants called on their bullpen 21 times over the three-game series with the Diamondbacks. Their day off Thursday will be well-used."Hopefully we get a little bit deeper in the game with our starters," Bochy said. "Get back to getting these quality starts and make it easier on the bullpen.
"We did use a lot of them. There's some tired guys down there.
"I guess you have to look at the silver lining. Some of them are getting some experience out there, getting in a groove. It's not that you want to see 'em out there as much as we've been using them, but they'll benefit from this down the stretch."
As long as the starting rotation recaptures some semblance of its dominant form and keeps the bullpen from burning out, Bochy's silver lining could be dead on.