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.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.