Giants say goodbye to L.A.

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Giants say goodbye to L.A.

GIANTS (84-71) vs.
L.A. DODGERS (77-77)Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area
(AP) -- The San Francisco Giants haven't thrown in the towel on a making a return trip to the postseason. The defending World Series champions have the right pitcher scheduled to try and stay in the mix for at least one more day.Looking to win a career-best sixth consecutive start, Madison Bumgarner will take the mound for the Giants on Thursday night when they meet the Los Angeles Dodgers for the final time this season.After a one-run loss in Tuesday's series opener, San Francisco (84-71) got three hits and three RBIs from Justin Christian in Wednesday's 8-5 win.However, Arizona also won, reducing its magic number to win the NL West to two. With the Diamondbacks idle Thursday, the Giants would be eliminated from the division race if they lose to Arizona on Friday night at Chase Field.San Francisco is third in the wild-card race, two games behind St. Louis and 3 12 in back of Atlanta."We're in the mode right now where we got to win every game," Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong said. "The mood is try and win every night and see what happens."Bumgarner (12-12, 3.21 ERA) has put the Giants in a real good mood recently.He's surrendered just four earned runs over 34 2-3 innings during his five-start winning streak, which included a victory over the Dodgers on Sept. 11 in San Francisco. The left-hander gave up an unearned run over seven innings in Friday's 9-1 rout of Colorado."This kid is just getting better and better," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's been on a good roll ... He's got to feel good about how it's gone for him, especially with the rough start that he had."Bumgarner was 0-6 in his first eight starts before beating the Dodgers on May 19 in Los Angeles.While Los Angeles (77-77) dropped to 8-9 against San Francisco with Wednesday's loss, Matt Kemp recorded his fifth straight multihit game with a homer and three RBIs.With 35 homers, Kemp is tied with Atlanta's Dan Uggla for second in the NL, one behind St. Louis' Albert Pujols. Kemp is third in the NL with a .322 average, leads the league in RBIs (116) and runs (106), and has a slight chance to reach 200 hits for the first time.Kemp, who needs 16 hits over the final eight games, is hitting .322 (19 for 59) with three homers and nine RBIs in 17 games against the Giants.He's 3 for 11 with three strikeouts when facing Bumgarner.After setting a career high for wins his last time out, Hiroki Kuroda (12-16, 3.19) will try once more to avoid becoming the first Dodger to lose 17 games since Fernando Valenzuela in 1984.Kuroda gave up an earned run and five hits in six innings of Friday's 7-2 win over Pittsburgh.He had allowed eight runs over 10 2-3 innings in losses at Washington and San Francisco earlier this month.After defeating the Giants at Chavez Ravine in his 2011 debut, Kuroda improved to 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in four career home starts against San Francisco.Pablo Sandoval is 6 for 14 with three doubles, a homer and three RBIs lifetime against Kuroda. The third baseman is hitting .378 (17 for 45) with three homers and seven RBIs in 15 games versus the Dodgers in 2011.

Puerto Rico in scarce supply of hair dye amid World Baseball Classic fever

Puerto Rico in scarce supply of hair dye amid World Baseball Classic fever

AN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Pharmacies and beauty stores across Puerto Rico are running out of hair dye with even a top economist joining men going blond in support of the island's baseball players who bleached their hair ahead of the World Baseball Classic.

What began as a joke among team members playing in California has spread across the island in a trend that spiked Tuesday just hours after Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands in 11 innings to reach the championship game undefeated in the tournament, which is held every four years. Puerto Rico will play Wednesday night in the final against the United States, which defeated Japan.

"Ever since they began winning, this has not stopped," said Myrna Rios, a manager at a Sally Beauty Supply store in the capital of San Juan. "We have run out of the product in most of our stores."

Copper blond, platinum blond, golden blond - all shades of blond (even burnt orange) are turning heads in a U.S. territory where the majority of men have thick, dark hair. Bald men dyed their beards or goatees in a nod to Puerto Rico coach Carlos Delgado.

"We have been able to unite our country with our blond hair," said star Carlos Correa, who hit a two-run homer and scored the winning run against the Netherlands. "That's what we want as players to unite our country, our people, and give them the best."

Men ranging from news anchors to university students to professionals have embraced a trend that has sparked the rallying cry of "Team Rubio!" or "Team Blond" in Spanish.

Among them is civil engineer Christian Rodriguez, who dyed his beard Saturday after visiting four different pharmacies to find the product he needed. At first, he didn't dye his hair as well because he thought it would be too much at church on Sunday. But he noticed six male churchgoers had dyed their hair blond and decided to take the plunge, calling a hair stylist friend to help him go platinum.

Rodriguez complained of an intense burning sensation during the two-hour process and sent pictures to his wife, who responded with the emoticon of a monkey with its eyes covered.

"Anything for my island!" he said as he lifted his arm to cheer the team.

Rodriguez then sent a picture of his dyed hair to his mechanic, who responded with a selfie taken underneath a car of him smiling with a bleached beard.

Puerto Rico's undefeated run to the championship has boosted the spirit of an island mired in a decade-long recession that faces a rocky recovery amid looming austerity measures for its government. Even young students have been sporting blond do's, prompting public schools to suspend them until the island's education secretary stepped in and said in a letter made public Tuesday that they should be allowed to dye their hair during the tournament.

"We wanted to do this to unite the team, and then the people of Puerto Rico, they started dying their hair, too," pitcher Edwin Diaz said. "I saw that there were some students that were suspended from school. I think they shouldn't be doing that because it just means that we have united our nation."

Even the prominent Puerto Rico-based economist Sergio Marxuach joined the trend, sporting yellow hair as he walked into a seminar in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, drawing laughs.

"My youngest son asked me, 'Why did you paint your hair like Donald Trump?'" he recalled with a laugh. "If this team can give us hope, we're going to need it given what's coming down the pipe."

Giants spring training Day 38: Cain still on track for fifth starter job

Giants spring training Day 38: Cain still on track for fifth starter job

MARYVALE, Ariz. — After a series of questions the other day about getting extra rest between starts, Madison Bumgarner smiled and pointed at the personalized calendar taped to his locker. He said he simply operates by the schedule set out by pitching coach Dave Righetti.

A glance at the calendar in Matt Cain’s locker might show a reason why the longest-tenured Giant is still in a good position to win the No. 5 starter spot despite continued spring struggles. Because they have two off days sandwiching a two-game series in Kansas City in the middle of April, the Giants can potentially use their No. 5 starter just twice until April 25, a span of 20 games.

If there’s any concern about Cain’s ability to hold up during the regular season, the early slate could help. The Giants can throw Cain against the Padres and Diamondbacks to start the season, and if it's not working out, they can go a stretch with just their top four as they reevaluate. 

"We'll see once we get a little closer how guys are doing, but it certainly gives you some options," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Cain has been preparing all along to start April 7 at Petco Park. That hasn’t changed.

“That’s what I’m looking at,” he said. “That’s the only thing I’m preparing for, to make sure I’m ready to go 100 pitches.”

Cain had another mixed-bag day against the Brewers. The first inning was full of loud contact and Cain was charged with three runs on four hits. But he settled down from there, allowing just one run over the next four innings. In all, Cain allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out four. He said he tried to change speeds more often after the early ambush. 

“I was maybe getting the timing different for them,” he said. “Those guys were getting balls where they could hit them. You’ve got to make a quick adjustment to that, and I had to do that.”

Cain threw 70 pitches, another sign that he’s locked in for April 7. His competition, Ty Blach, has not been fully stretched out this spring. 

TRAINER'S ROOM: Will Smith will head to Los Angeles on Thursday to get a second opinion on his left elbow strain. The Giants will then know if Smith needs Tommy John surgery, which would end his season. Eduardo Nuñez flew back to San Francisco with Smith earlier in the week to get a corisone shot in his sore right shoulder. He's back, but he'll be down a few days. 

GAME RECAP: Hunter Pence has been slumping for several weeks, but he got on the board in the sixth with a double that spun off the end of his bat and down the first base line. A classic Pence hit ... Jae-gyun Hwang hit a two-run shot to right-center ... Steven Okert did some nifty work to keep his spring ERA at 0.00. With runners on first and third and no outs, he got a double play and a fly ball to left.

ICYMI: Barry Bonds has arrived. Here is a story about his return to the Giants, and here’s video from his media session this morning. 

GOOD NEWS: First base coach Jose Alguacil returned to camp Wednesday morning, and he said he’s only a few days from returning to game action. Alguacil, who had surgery earlier in March after taking a line drive off the face, was cleared for full activity. Hensley Meulens, Dave Groeschner and Taira Uematsu also returned from a stint in the WBC. 

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Aaron Hill started the prettiest double play of the spring by snagging a Hernan Perez liner with a dive and making a perfect throw to second baseman Gordon Beckham. Hill later smashed a double into the left field corner. That dude is making the team. 

QUOTABLE: "I figured Barry is in town, so I'd show him how it's done." -- Denard Span on a very long two-run homer he hit to right.