Giants lineup comes up short against archrivals

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Giants lineup comes up short against archrivals

SAN FRANCISCO This is how Giants manager Bruce Bochyassessed the state of the NL West:

This is going to be a tight race, he said. In lateSeptember, well know whos going to win this division.

Or early October. The Giants end the regular season withthree games at Dodger Stadium Oct. 1-3.

Bochys other assessment after the Dodgers pulled within agame after sideswiping his club in a 10-0 victory Saturday:

Right now, were not doing a lot right.

No fact checking required there. The Dodgers have a healthyMatt Kemp and an apparently motivated Hanley Ramirez, which is a chillingcombination. Meanwhile, the Giants have struggled to lengthen their lineup allseason. And now that Pablo Sandoval is out of the picture for two weeks, theylook as short as the Lollipop Guild.

Entering Saturdays game, the Giants ranked 27th in the majors with a .637 OPS from their No.7 hitters. Their No.8 hitters had a .561 OPS, which ranked 29th. And as much as we believe in Matt Cains power potential, it isnt often that the pitchers spot will turn over a lineup.

Add their problems with run production a .188 average withtwo outs and runners in scoring position, just seven home runs from their firstbasemen, an icy second half from Angel Pagan in the Nos. 5-6 spots and thelineup appears several noisemakers short of a party as the pennant stretchapproaches.

And yet, the Giants were 9-3 before losing two to theirarchrivals. And Fridays loss came in extra innings. So the burn always feelsthe worst immediately after a spanking.

Weve seen the Giants manhandle an undermanned Dodgers rosterhere in June in historic fashion while throwing three shutouts. Now weve seenthe Dodgers return the favor, with Kemp and Ramirez living the lo viste loca.

So wheres the truth? Somewhere in the middle? Where dothese teams stack up, when both are healthy? How do you begin to handicap thesefinal nine games?

RATTO: The Giants-Dodgers pennant race is really on now

I think were pretty evenly matched when were all at fullcylinders, said Barry Zito, who mostly pitched well despite allowing fourearned runs in 5 13 innings. Were just excited for this to come down to thewire here. Thats what its all about.

I feel like we have to step it up because we have to stepit up. Its not because the Dodgers did anything. We know we can play betterthan we did the last couple days. We want to get healthy and have everybodyplay up to their potential.

If the Dodgers can pull off a sweep behind Clayton Kershawon Sunday, the division will be a dead heat. And there will be nine moremeetings between these two rivals.

Including three in October.

Right now were not swinging well, Bochy said. Weve gotguys who have been trying to find their swing. Its important we come out of itbecause weve got a lot of baseball left.

Giants lineup: Bochy sticks with his guys vs Padres

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Giants lineup: Bochy sticks with his guys vs Padres

The Giants fell to the Padres on Thursday night, but Bruce decided to make no changes to his batting order for Friday.

San Diego Padres (41-54)

Lineup still to come

San Francisco Giants (37-60)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Hunter Pence (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P

Sandoval, ready for second chance, makes way back to San Francisco

Sandoval, ready for second chance, makes way back to San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants had to be careful with their public statements over the past 48 hours because they didn't want to get accused of tampering with a player who technically was still property of the Red Sox. That's no longer the case. 

Pablo Sandoval was expected to clear waivers on Friday and be in San Francisco to finalize a minor league deal. One Giants fan, on the way back from Boston, appeared to catch Sandoval boarding his flight. The Giants were preparing to reintroduce Sandoval on Saturday. He is expected to then make his way to Triple-A Sacramento. 

Sandoval, now 30 years old, spent the first seven years of his career in San Francisco, batting .294 with 106 homers. His time in Boston was a disaster and he was designated for assignment last week. The Red Sox released Sandoval on Wednesday, and it was soon reported by MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that Sandoval would head back to the Giants. 

The Giants believe there is little downside in the move. Sandoval will not be blocking anyone in the minors, because Christian Arroyo is on the disabled list and Ryder Jones can play multiple positions. At the major league level, Eduardo Nuñez could be traded over the next 10 days.