Giants manage five hits, blanked by Dodgers 3-0

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Giants manage five hits, blanked by Dodgers 3-0

Sept. 10, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Bruce Bochy has walked into the manager's office every day this September expecting his San Francisco Giants to show some life. That day has yet to come.It likely won't this year.After the latest scoreless performance to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers knocked the Giants 9 12 games behind Arizona in the NL West, Bochy finally vented about his team's horrendous offense and all but admitted the playoff race is over."We're bad right now with the bats," he said. "We're awful. There's no other way to say it."Dana Eveland combined with two relievers to throw a six-hitter, and the Dodgers delivered another blow to the Giants' dismal playoff hopes with a 3-0 victory over the defending World Series champions on Saturday night.The pitching performance extended San Francisco's scoreless streak to 17 innings. The Giants have only had two runners reach third base in that span, and about all they can do now is play out the remainder of the season."You're obligated to go out there and give it your best," Bochy said. "We're fortunate to be here every game and have it sold out and have these great fans here. That's what makes it so much tougher - at home is where we're so bad."Juan Rivera had three singles and drove in a run off Ryan Vogelsong (10-7) to lift the Dodgers back to .500 with their 15th win in 18 games. Vogelsong gave up three runs in eight innings - including one on a balk - for his fifth straight loss.For the first time this September, San Francisco started to show signs that it's already moving ahead to next year.Bochy filled out his lineup with rookies and up-and-comers: Hector Sanchez made his first start at catcher, Brett Pill was at first, Brandon Belt played left field and Justin Christian was out in center.The revamped lineup did nothing to ignite San Francisco's offense.James Loney hit a one-out triple off Vogelsong in the second inning, and scored on Jerry Sands' groundout to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.Matt Kemp lined a triple to right leading off the fourth. Rivera followed with an RBI single, the first of three straight infield hits for Los Angeles.As if that wasn't enough to frustrate Vogelsong, he balked in a run with the bases loaded to extend the Dodgers' lead to 3-0. Vogelsong argued unsuccessfully with second base umpire Laz Diaz and paced the infield furiously over the call."Even though they weren't hitting the balls hard, they were finding holes. It happens," Vogelsong said.The right-hander rallied to get three straight outs and limit the damage. Of course, with San Francisco's scoring woes, that was more enough for the Dodgers.The closest the Giants came to scoring was a dismal two-out rally in the fourth, when Pablo Sandoval singled and Brett Pill doubled down the line in left. With a chance to knock home two runs, Brandon Belt lined out to third."His two outings have been really good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Eveland. "He throws strikes and gets ahead of hitters. If he keeps pitching like that, it's tough to keep a guy out."Things would only get worse for the home team.Carlos Beltran caught Jerry Sands' flyout in right field for the second out of the eighth and started jogging toward the dugout, apparently thinking it was the final out of the inning. Tony Gwynn Jr. easily went from second to third, and Giants fans booed Beltran - the prize acquisition at the trade deadline from the New York Mets - and several others left their seats.Eveland was lifted for Jansen after he walked Hector Sanchez to open the bottom of the eighth. After pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa singled to put runners on first and third with no outs, the Giants again went out with a whimper.Pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff and Jeff Keppinger struck out swinging, and Beltran groundout out to second to end the inning. All fans could do was boo.NOTES: Giants C Buster Posey threw a light toss for the first time since he tore three ligaments in his left ankle and fractured a bone in his leg in a home-plate collision with Florida's Scott Cousins on May 25. He is on schedule to be ready by spring training. ... Giants LHP Barry Zito (ankle) will take fielding practice Sunday and is expected to be activated before the game. ... The Dodgers will send RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-15) to the mound in the series finale Sunday against Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (10-12).

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Now dealing with a second blister, Cueto gives up three homers to Cubs

Now dealing with a second blister, Cueto gives up three homers to Cubs

CHICAGO — Even after losses, Johnny Cueto tends to find a way to flash a smile or two in post-game interviews. He is as competitive as it gets between the lines, but off the field he embraces a relaxed attitude. 

There was none of that Tuesday night at Wrigley. Cueto wore a dour look while describing a 4-1 loss to the Cubs, perhaps because he is a man searching for answers. Cueto was already pitching with a blister for the first time in his career. On Tuesday, he admitted he’s now trying to make the ball dance while dealing with a second blister. 

The first, on his middle finger, popped up at the end of the spring and has bothered Cueto off and on. The second, on his index finger, formed in St. Louis last week. 

“It’s not an excuse,” Cueto said several times. “I was getting hit.”

The Cubs crushed three homers, including a 470-foot bomb from Kyle Schwarber. All three pitches leaked right over the heart of the plate, and Cueto admitted that he can't get that final twist on the ball as he normally does. A tad of his movement is missing, and hitters are taking advantage. 

“It’s just those pitches I left hanging,” Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “When you leave pitches hanging or put them right in the middle of the plate, you’re going to pay the price.”

The homers — by Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo — represented 60 percent of the hits Cueto gave up. He struck out eight in six innings.

“It’s a little unlike Johnny to make mistakes like that,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You like to think you could make a mistake and get away with it, but he didn’t tonight. A couple of fastballs he pulled over the heart of the plate and then one cutter.”

Catcher Buster Posey said the Cubs were on Cueto’s heater, so the duo tried to adjust. You can’t pitch without your fastball, though, and Cueto’s isn’t quite as explosive as it was in his first year with the Giants. The velocity is down a couple of ticks, but it’s unclear if that too is related to the blisters. 

What is clear is that Cueto is a different pitcher in his second season in San Francisco. He has a 4.64 ERA and opposing hitters are batting .253 with 11 homers. Through 10 starts last year, Cueto had a 2.83 ERA and was holding hitters to a .229 average. He had allowed just two homers. 

“Gosh, it’s just probably a few more mistakes than he made last year,” Bochy said. “He’s still competing so well and he gives you a chance to win every game.”

Cueto made it through six despite the long-ball issues, but that wasn’t enough against Jon Lester, who would have faced Cueto in Game 5 last October. Lester needed just 99 pitches to carve up the Giants for a complete game. He threw 70 strikes. 

That’s the type of efficient performance the Giants came to expect from Cueto last year. Cueto still expects it from himself, but his fingers aren’t cooperating. Asked if he would take a short stint on the DL to get right, Cueto said he can’t. He needs to keep pitching and have callouses form. Plus, any break without throwing would be a significant blow to a team trying desperately to stay within shouting distance of a playoff spot. 

“Basically, it makes no sense whatsoever,” to take a break, Cueto said.