Giants seek sixth straight win behind Bumgarner

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Giants seek sixth straight win behind Bumgarner

Sept. 16, 2011

GIANTS (80-70) vs.
COLORADO (70-79)

Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on NBC Bay Area

DENVER (AP) -- Madison Bumgarner has arguably been San Francisco's top starting pitcher over the last three weeks, but with close to 200 innings pitched and the Giants' postseason hopes dwindling, the team is considering shutting him down to preserve his arm.

In what could be one of his final outings, Bumgarner looks to win a career-high fifth straight start when he faces the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.

San Francisco (80-70) won its fifth in a row with an 8-5 victory in Thursday's series opener, preventing Arizona from moving closer to clinching the NL West. This surge might be too little too late for the defending World Series champions, however, as the Giants are seven games back with 12 to play.

"We've got a chance," Pablo Sandoval said. "You never know what's going to happen."

Bumgarner (11-12, 3.33 ERA) has done his best to keep the Giants in the playoff picture, recording a 1.30 ERA in winning his last four starts, while striking out 34 and posting a 0.94 WHIP over 27 2-3 innings. Against the Dodgers on Sunday, he allowed a run and three hits with eight strikeouts in five innings of an 8-1 victory, improving to 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA since the All-Star break.

"I'm just making better pitches and having a little better luck at the same time," said Bumgarner, who was 4-9 with a 3.87 before the break. "I don't know if I've gotten stronger. I still feel good. I'm not worried about wins and losses for me. The biggest thing is innings. You want to stay out there and pitch late. That's probably the most important thing."

In his first full season in the majors, the 22-year-old left-hander has amassed 186 2-3 innings, and the Giants plan to take a cautious approach.

"I just like where he's at right now," Bruce Bochy said.

Bumgarner has been solid in his two starts against the Rockies (70-79) this year, recording a 1.38 ERA, but three total runs of support has left him with an 0-1 record.

The Giants had no trouble generating offense in the opener, pounding out 13 hits and scoring eight runs for the third time in five games. They had reached the eight-run mark in only three of their previous 89 contests.

Sandoval led the way Thursday, becoming the 25th Giant to hit for the cycle. The All-Star third baseman is batting .524 with two homers, four doubles and seven RBIs during the winning streak.

URBAN: Giants' Sandoval a true sports hero

San Francisco's suddenly potent offense now tries to make things tough on Alex White (2-1, 8.18), who has allowed nine home runs and has a 1.73 WHIP over 22 innings in four starts for the Rockies.

Five of those homers came against Cincinnati on Saturday. The right-hander, acquired from Cleveland as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, permitted three other hits and seven runs in five innings, but was bailed out by his offense and earned his second straight victory in a 12-7 win.

Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and Todd Helton (back tightness) each missed their second straight game in the opener, and it doesn't seem likely either will play Friday. Their replacements, shortstop Tommy Field and first baseman Jordan Pacheco, both made errors Thursday.

The Rockies are 3-6 without Tulowitzki and 9-16 without Helton.

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

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. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P