Giants sticking together in pursuit of division title

Giants sticking together in pursuit of division title
July 14, 2012, 12:45 am
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants trail the Los Angeles Dodgers in the N.L. West by a 12 game. In 2010, they entered the break trailing by two games and went 45-29 en route to a World Series title. In 2011, they entered the break leading the division by three games, went 34-36 and missed the playoffs.

Are there positives to glean from the past about running just behind the pace horse?

"You know what, there could be," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "It might give you that fire that says you've gotta step it up in the second half.

"Maybe it adds a little more intensity, maybe it adds a little more fun."

Fun is something the Giants know, and the vibe in the clubhouse Friday as players returned from the All-Star break was that of old friends reuniting -- showing off sunburns and vacation images captured on smart phones.

"I was missing them already, man, after three days!" Angel Pagan said. "That's something that's pretty cool. That you look forward to get back with your teammates and go to war."

Bochy noticed it too.

"The break is nice, and we had some guys that needed it, but it's good to get back. After a couple days, you're excited to get back, can't wait to get back.

"We're like a family."

The Giants, who have dropped seven of their last nine games entering the break, will need to come together as a family and turn things around for a second-half push. The Diamondbacks took a three-game winning streak into the break and 2011 N.L. MVP runner-up Matt Kemp is back in the Dodgers lineup after missing 51 games in the first half.

Do the Giants have enough in the clubhouse to win the West? Friday's starter Madison Bumgarner tackled the question on Chronicle Live Thursday.

"I think so," Bumgarner said. "If we didn't think so, that'd be our first problem."

The team support started early Friday with Pablo Sandoval, Angel Pagan and Nate Schierholtz taking batting practice in front of an empty stadium in shorts, working on their swings together.

"It's something that feels really good," Pagan said. "When you have teammates that look out for each other. When someone struggles, somebody's got your back. There's no better feeling than that, and that's the type of clubhouse we have."

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