Instant Replay: Braves 7, Giants 1

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Instant Replay: Braves 7, Giants 1

BOX SCORESAN FRANCISCO Tim Lincecum struggled out of the gate, Tim Hudson cruised through the Giants lineup for seven innings, and the Braves beat the Giants 7-1 on Sunday to split the four-game series after losing the first two contests.Starting pitching report With the rare 5:00 start time, Tim Lincecum had the benefit of the baseball leaving his hand in sunlight and reaching home plate in the shadows to start the ballgame. It didnt appear to help, however, as the Giants right-hander walked Braves leadoff man Michael Bourn and continued to unravel en route to allowing two first inning runs. After Lincecum induced a fly out from Reed Johnson, Bourn stole second and advanced to third on a single by Jason Heyward, who also stole second. A walk to Freddie Freeman loaded the bases for Martin Prado, who drove in Bourn with a fielders choice. Brian McCann followed with a bloop single into the Bermudas Triangle behind second base in right-centerfield for a 2-0 Braves lead. Lincecum has allowed 25 first-inning runs this season, the most in the big leagues.Lincecum kept the Braves off the board in the second, but gave up a single to the opposing pitcher Tim Hudson and allowed Bourn to steal his second base in as many innings.The Lincecum of yesteryear returned briefly in the third, as Heyward struck out chasing a high, tailing fastball and Freeman and Prado both grounded out for the first Atlanta 1-2-3 inning. But the nostalgia didnt last long, as Lincecum hung a one-out, 1-1 change-up to Juan Francisco in the fourth inning that ended up halfway up the centerfield Bleachers above the VISA sign. Since Barry Bonds retired, not many players have hit one to that part of the ballpark.Lincecum cruised through the fifth inning with three consecutive groundouts for his second 1-2-3 inning, but was lifted for pinch-hitter Ryan Theriot in the bottom half of the frame having thrown 90 pitches on the evening.Lincecums line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, one tape measure home run. Fifty-three of his 90 pitches were strikes.The two-time Cy Young winner has now thrown just nine quality starts in his 27 outings this season. He had 26 quality starts in each of those award-winning seasons (2008 and 2009).Bullpen report Jose Mijares relieved Lincecum to open the sixth inning and didnt last long. He walked Prado, gave up a single to McCann and struck out Francisco swinging before giving way to George Kontos. Kontos allowed both of his inherited runners to score on a triple by Paul Janish that was aided by some sloppy defense by Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan. He made up for the fat pitch to Janish by spoiling a suicide squeeze attempt, though. As Janish broke for home, Tim Hudson sent a bunt right back to Kontos, who fed catcher Hector Sanchez with an underhanded throw to get the out at home and keep the Atlanta lead at 5-0. Kontos finished the sixth inning and stayed in for a 1-2-3 seventh before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt in the eighth.Affeldt, who had allowed six runs on 10 hits and six walks over his last nine appearances, bounced back with a scoreless inning, but it wasnt without some drama. After Prado grounded out to shotstop for the first out, McCann worked around Bruce Bochys shift with a perfectly placed bunt down the third-base line. Affeldt followed with a walk to Francisco, then got Janish to fly out to center, which allowed McCann to move up to third. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called upon Chipper Jones to pinch-hit and he doffed his batting helmet to the crowd giving him a standing ovation for what could be his final appearance at AT&T Park, barring a playoff rematch. Jones hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop that ate up Brandon Crawford, but he recovered in time to get Jones at first and avoid a run-scoring error.Clay Hensley got the call in the ninth and, after two quick outs, served up back-to-back home runs to Heyward and Freeman for some Atlanta insurance. Pence bailed Hensley out of a longer inning with a sliding catch to send the game to the bottom of the ninth. At the plate Tim Lincecum threw 32 pitches in the top of the first inning. Tim Hudson needed just seven to set down the Giants 1-2-3 hitters in the bottom of the opening frame.The Giants didnt put up much more of a fight as the game moved along, either. Hudson worked around singles in the second, third and fourth innings, but still threw just 43 pitches through his first four innings of work. Hudson struck out three as he set down the Giants in order and the fifth and sixth innings before running into his first bit of trouble following the seventh-inning stretch.Buster Posey and Hunter Pence led off the seventh with back-to-back singles. Hector Sanchez almost hit the Giants 62nd splash hit, but his drive over the right-field arcade hooked foul. He eventually flew out to center before Gregor Blanco walked to load the bases for Brandon Crawford, who sent a ball to shallow center that allowed Posey to tag up and score the Giants first and only run. Hudson responded to the destruction of his shutout bid by getting pinch-hitter Brandon Belt to ground out to shortstop to end the threat.Dating back to August 29, 2006, Tim Hudson owns a six-game winning streak against the Giants, spanning nine starts. The Giants didnt fare much better against the Braves bullpen, as Jonny Venters worked around a one-out walk by getting Sandoval to ground into an easy 4-6-3 double play to end the eighth inning. Sandoval finished 0-for-4 on his bobblehead night. Pence laced a one-out single off Cristhian Martinez in the ninth inning for the Giants sixth hit of the game. But Sanchez popped out behind third base and, after a Blanco walk, Crawford flew out to Heyward in right to end the homestand.In field In the fourth inning, Angel Pagan appeared to lose a shallow fly ball in the sun off the bat of Braves pitcher Tim Hudson, who was credited with his second single of the game.Reed Johnson hit a high chopper to open up the fifth inning. Pablo Sandoval patiently waited for gravity to bring the ball back to his glove, then rushed the throw and sent it very low across the diamond. Brandon Belt has bailed Sandoval out of a few low throws recently with some slick glove work, but this time it was Buster Posey at first who took care of the one-hop throw for the out.On the bases The Braves stole three bases in the first two innings against the Tim Lincecum-Hector Sanchez battery. The Giants didnt attempt a single theft.Attendance The Giants announced a crowd of 41,735 for their 149th consecutive sellout. A number of Pablo Sandoval bobbleheads were already for sale on eBay before the games final out was recorded.Up next The Giants will enjoy a scheduled day off Monday before opening up a three-game series against the Astros in Houston. Matt Cain (13-5, 2.83 ERA) will start the opener for the Giants against Northern California native Bud Norris (5-11, 5.19 ERA).

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut. Tuesday brought his first hit and on Wednesday it was the first homer. Thursday’s game was his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. What was in store Friday? The best swing yet.

Arroyo hit a go-ahead shot to left while leading off the eighth, giving the Giants a 4-3 win in their series opener with the Padres. The player coaches simply call “The Kid” has two homers in his first five games, and both have come in huge spots. Friday’s sent another jolt through AT&T Park and got a lead to Mark Melancon, who closed out the Padres. 

For four innings, a long-haired right-hander was no-hitting the Padres. Jeff Samardzija was sharp early and he got a nice cushion in the first. Joe Panik and Brandon Belt led off with singles and Panik scored on Erick Aybar’s two-out error. A Conor Gillaspie knock made it 2-0. 

The first hit allowed by Samardzija was a painful one. He plunked Yangervis Solarte to open the fifth and Ryan Schimpf hit a long dinger to dead center to tie the game. Cory Spangenberg followed with a single to left that skipped under Belt’s glove. Spangenberg went to third on the play and scored on a bloop. 

Belt made up for the play in the bottom of the inning, beating the outfield shift with a double and scoring on Mike Morse’s sacrifice fly to right two batters later. Samardzija ran into trouble in the seventh, but with two in scoring position and one out, he got a strikeout and a grounder to third. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in their half, but Hunter Pence and Morse struck out. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija has allowed six homers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL with a handful of players, including Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. 

Bullpen report: Melancon has five straight saves since blowing his first opportunity as a Giant. 

At the plate: Belt reached base four times. His on-base percentage is sitting at a cool .390. 

In the field: Panik made a brilliant diving catch in center for the first out of the ninth. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a sellout crowd. One of the fans looked just like Samardzija, possibly on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain has a 2.42 ERA but he left his last start with a tight hamstring. He’ll face Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 5.90).