Giants' offense anemic, fall to Dodgers 2-1

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Giants' offense anemic, fall to Dodgers 2-1

Sept. 9, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Tim Lincecum is still pitching like an ace even when he has nothing to show for it. That's the kind of year it's been for the Freak and his defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.NL Cy Young Award contender Clayton Kershaw outdueled two-time winner Lincecum, pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll drove home the go-ahead run in the ninth and the Los Angeles Dodgers sent the Giants another game further from a return trip to the playoffs with a 2-1 victory Friday night."We're not trying to just sink," said Lincecum, who last fall pitched San Francisco to the city's first championship by winning Game 5 of the World Series at Texas. "It's not like anyone has given up by any means. This game is just as important at any game, it's just for a different cause."Time is running out.
RATTO: Giants now playing to finish above .500
The Giants fell to 8 12 games back of first-place Arizona in the NL West with 18 to play after the Diamondbacks beat the Padres 3-2. And the surging Dodgers are suddenly making a push for second place.Rod Barajas singled to start the ninth against Santiago Casilla (2-2) and former Giant Eugenio Velez came in to pinch-run. Justin Sellers sacrificed him to second and Velez moved to third on a wild pitch. Second baseman Jeff Keppinger then threw home on Carroll's grounder but a sliding Velez just beat the tag by catcher Eli Whiteside.Kershaw (18-5) allowed three hits, one unearned run, struck out nine and walked one in eight strong innings, allowing only Pablo Sandoval's first-inning RBI single.He's not ready to crown himself the Cy Young winner. Arizona's Ian Kennedy won his NL-best 19th game Thursday."Three more starts hopefully three more wins. And call it," Kershaw said. "And then look back after that. No disrespect to Timmy. He's an awesome pitcher. I don't care who I get a win against. A win is a win."Javy Guerra got three straight groundouts for his 17th save in 18 chances.Aaron Miles and Matt Kemp each had two hits. Kemp also stole second in the eighth after he nubbed a grounder about 20 feet up the third-base line, setting up Juan Rivera's tying single. Tony Gwynn Jr. entered to pinch run. Miles then singled and Giants manager Bruce Bochy paid Lincecum a mound visit before leaving him in to face Jerry Sands. Lincecum struck him out swinging for his sixth K.The Dodgers rallied late to win for the 14th time in 16 games and ninth in 11. Los Angeles has won five straight series, while San Francisco has failed to win in seven straight home series at sold-out AT&T Park since taking two of three from Milwaukee on July 22-24.The Giants missed chances yet again.Chris Stewart hit a one-out single in the eighth and was lifted for pinch-runner Darren Ford after he hurt his foot. Ford stole second but was stranded after pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa hit a foul popup and Justin Christian struck out in a 10-pitch at-bat that included five straight fouls."We're lucky if we score one for him," Stewart said of Lincecum. "Luckily we were able to get that across early tonight and he went out with a vengeance. He knew he was probably not going to get much more than that. ... It's just unfortunate we can't put enough runs across to get him a win."Lincecum went winless in four tries this year against the Dodgers, losing his two previous decisions to Kershaw. His 127-pitch outing matched his second-most pitches thrown this year behind 133 against Oakland on May 21."You like to say they don't but they both know who they are pitching against," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of the matchup of aces. "They both know you can't give up much because the other guy isn't going to."Kershaw's nine Ks made him the first National League pitcher to reach the 230 strikeout mark.The Dodgers finally did enough to back Kershaw after traveling cross-country following a wet and rainy stop in Washington. The nightcap of their scheduled doubleheader with the Nationals on Thursday was scrapped because of yet more precipitation - meaning Los Angeles at least got a decent night's sleep in the Bay Area.Lincecum has only one win in his last five starts, and 10 of his 12 defeats have come when receiving one or fewer runs of support. He has 10 starts receiving no runs."I'd definitely like to beat that guy just because he's done it to us and I manage to go head to head against him a lot," Lincecum said. "Most of the time it's gone to him."Lincecum received a couple of defensive gems, too. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera made a tough, diving stop on Miles' sharp line drive up the middle in the second. To end the sixth, right fielder Carlos Beltran made a tremendous catch in foul territory with his knee against the outfield wall and his left arm stretched well into the stands. Center fielder Christian hustled in toward left-center and made a diving, backhanded stop on a liner by Sellers in the seventh."We only scored one run in the first," Bochy said. "You've got to figure a way to get another run. We're not doing it. That's coming back to hurt us because we live on the edge."NOTES: Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (10-6), named the "Willie Mac Award" winner Friday after Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, pitches Saturday night trying to end a four-start losing streak. ... Mattingly changed his rotation, going with Dana Eveland in Saturday night's game to give the other starters extra rest. Hiroki Kuroda, who had been scheduled to start Saturday, was pushed back to Sunday and Ted Lilly to Monday at Dodger Stadium against the D-backs. Mattingly said Kuroda's 115-pitch outing his last time out in a 7-2 loss to the Nationals in Washington on Monday, figured in the decision.

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

DENVER — Bruce Bochy watched the first two games of this road trip from his home in San Diego and the final three from the top step of the dugout at Coors Field. He did not like what he saw, but at the moment he’s more concerned with what he might hear. 

“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either,” Bochy said. “It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.”

Three weeks into the season, nothing is working. The rotation has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the Majors. The lineup scored 10 runs over a five-game road trip and got shut out twice. The bullpen hasn’t been given many leads with which to make up for the first-week trouble. The defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy. 

It has added up to a 6-13 start, tied for the worst in club history. The Giants have lost six of seven and they’ll head home seven games out of first place. 

“Right now there’s nothing clicking,” Bochy said. “Let’s be honest, this has been a rough start and we’re not very good right now. I’m not saying we’re not very good. We are good, but we’ve got to find a way to come out of this. This was a tough way to end this series. We’ve been through it. I’ve got men out there and that’s when you find a way to get through this. They will.”

Perhaps Monday will bring some fresh blood for the roster. Drew Stubbs appears poised to give the Giants another veteran option should they cut bait with a struggling outfielder. Michael Morse could be an option in left field soon, and if he’s mostly relegated to first, the Giants can put Brandon Belt in the outfield. He looked fine there Sunday while playing both corner spots. 

Those are moves made around the edges of the roster, though. There is no magic bullet coming from the outside, not even Christian Arroyo, who continues to mash at Triple-A. This is a $200 million roster and much of that has been spent on the rotation. Through 13 games, it is the worst in the National League, and the ace was lost to an off-field accident. Sure, the starters have pitched at Chase Field and Coors Field, but on back-to-back days they were dominated by Rockies rookies who make a living here. 

Samardzija could not keep pace with left-hander Kyle Freeland, who sawed off a handful of bats while cruising through seven. Samardzjiza gave up a run early, two more in the fourth on a hanging splitter that was blasted to right, and five in the sixth.

Bochy challenged his starting staff to improve after Saturday’s game. He has not publicly done the same with the lineup, but subtle changes have been made here and there. It is a group that, outside of a couple of players, has lacked energy. Because they don’t hit for power, the Giants are reliant on stringing together rallies. For the fourth time in seven games, the lineup failed to put a runner on base the first time through the order. 

“Even in spring training we had our games where we had trouble getting something going early,” Bochy said. “It’s the fourth or fifth before a hit. Somehow, we’ve got to change that.”

The Giants played Sunday without Jarrett Parker (clavicle) and Denard Span (right shoulder sprain), but for the most part the lineup is healthy. Bochy said he has talked to hitting coach Hensley Meulens about possibly altering pre-game routines, but that seems a cosmetic fix. 

“We’ve talked and we’ve shaken up the lineup, but as you saw today, there’s only so much you can do,” he said. 

Bochy knows there is outside noise regarding the roster. His eyes bulged the other day when asked if Arroyo would get a call-up next week. The Giants do not feel he is quite ready, or that there is a spot for him on the infield. For all the potential bench options waiting at Triple-A, this team's core is set, and it’s not outrageously banged-up compared to the rest of the division. 

The Dodgers, who come into town Monday, have 10 players on the disabled list, including No. 2 starter Rich Hill, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and left fielder Andre Ethier. The Rockies, the best team in the NL West thus far, are off to this start without big offseason acquisition Ian Desmond and young slugger David Dahl. Jon Gray, their opening day starter, went on the DL after facing the Giants in San Francisco. Chad Bettis, a rotation member, is getting treatment for testicular cancer. 

This division is better than expected, and as the end of April approaches, the Giants are bringing up the rear. Bochy’s plea for urgency was one that would have fit right in with last season’s second half. Back then, the Giants could at least lean on a huge start that got them into the postseason. As they flew home Sunday, there was nothing to fall back on but a simple truth.

This is the team. It must play better.

“We have everything we need in this room,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”

 

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Bruce Bochy spent about 10 minutes before Sunday’s game talking about potential options in left field and center. The problems for this lineup, however, currently go much deeper than the outfield. 

A day after the Giants managed just four hits off Antonio Senzatela, the bats went completely limp against fellow Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. The Giants were shut out 8-0, a rarity at Coors Field. They were blanked twice on the road trip and scored just 10 runs during a five-game swing through Kansas City and Denver. 

The sweep at Coors Field was the Giants' first since 2002. At 6-13, they have the worst record in the National League.

For the fourth time in seven games, and third time on this five-game road trip, the Giants went one time through the order without a baserunner. That puts added pressure on your starter, and Jeff Samardzija couldn’t keep it close. Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff liner to right that was misplayed into a triple and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Parra got a spinner down in the zone in the fourth and blasted a two-run shot to right. 

As they did Saturday night, the Rockies pulled away with a huge rally. Nolan Arenado’s infield single and a walk of Carlos Gonzalez set the table in the sixth. Gerardo Parra lined a single to center and all runners advanced when Gorkys Hernandez kicked it. Trevor Story’s single to right was bobbled by Hunter Pence and two more scored. Blackmon’s double made it 8-0.

Starting pitching report: Samardzija was charged with seven earned in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 7.40 ERA through four starts. The starting staff has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the majors. That won’t play, not when you’ve spent most of your resources the last two years on starters. 

Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland's Mullet had a scoreless debut. 

At the plate: Nope. 

In the field: Brandon Belt’s first start in left this season was rather uneventful. He caught a liner right at him in the first and came up inches short on a diving attempt in foul territory. Belt moved to right in the seventh inning. He had one previous inning there in the big leagues but he actually prefers right because it’s the same angle as his normal position. Belt gloved a liner right at him in the eighth. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 42,011 human beings and one donkey, who was a menace. 

Up next: The first look at the Dodgers. The Giants will see Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and likely Julio Urias in the four-game series.