Instant Replay: Dodgers 3, Giants 2

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Instant Replay: Dodgers 3, Giants 2

BOX SCORE
LOS ANGELES The Giants have their ticket punched to the postseason. Theyll have to wait another day to try to knock out their archrivals.With the Dodgers a loss away from elimination, Andre Ethier hit a two-run home run off Matt Cain and Elian Herrera sent the Dodgers storming onto the field in the ninth, singling off the glove of second baseman Marco Scutaro with the bases loaded as the Giants lost 3-2 at Dodger Stadium.The Dodgers remained two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals with two to play for the final NL wild card spot. The Cards won earlier in the day to shrink the Dodgers tragic number to one. No matter what the Dodgers do, they'll be eliminated with the Cardinals' next victory. That scenario would deprive the Giants the pleasure of dispatching their archrivals on the field, though.Santiago Casilla gave up singles to Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz, then intentionally walked A.J. Ellis to set the stage for Herrera, a lightly used, 27-year-old rookie who took advantage of a spotlight moment.Starting pitching reportGiants manager Bruce Bochy lifted Cain after five innings and 68 pitches, deciding his right-hander got close enough to the 75-pitch limit imposed on him.Cain only allowed a two-run home run to Andre Ethier and finished the season with career lows in ERA (2.79) and WHIP (1.08) while compiling a career-best 193 strikeouts.He faced the minimum over the first three innings, courtesy of some solid infield defense by Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. But Mark Ellis led off the fourth with a single and Cains first-pitch slider to Andre Ethier ended up in the right field pavilion.Cain can think all winter on ways to get Ethier out. The Dodgers outfielder owns a .456 average in 57 at-bats against Cain. He hadnt homered off him before Monday, though.Dont try telling Cain it was a meaningless shot in a meaningless game. He snapped a new ball into his glove and made a sturdy toss to second base while going around the horn after retiring Adrian Gonzalez on a 3-1 ground out.Cain departed trailing 2-1 but the Giants tying rally in the eighth kept him from taking a loss. He ended the year with a 16-5 record.Bullpen reportJose Mijares, Guillermo Mota and Jeremy Affeldt combined to hold the Dodgers scoreless from the sixth through the eighth before Casilla entered and took the loss in the ninth.At the plateBuster Posey keeps inching toward the first NL batting title by a catcher since Ernie Lombardi in 1941. He collected his 101st RBI when he double in Marco Scutaro in the first inning and finished 1 for 4 to drop just one point off his average to .336. The Pirates Andrew McCutchen was 1 for 3 to remain at .329.Even when Posey doesnt get a hit, he can impress. He grounded out on the 12th pitch of his at-bat in the fourth inning. But Posey struck out looking to start the seventh and tapped out to end the eighth. He left the game for precautionary reasons with what manager Bruce Bochy said were back spasms in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After Poseys double in the first inning, the Giants couldnt do much more with Aaron Harang. The big right-hander retired 14 of 15 batters after Brandon Belt drew a leadoff walk in the second inningThe Giants tied it in the eighth, as Scutaro tried to summon the spirit of Joe Morgan with a tying single. Angel Pagan started the rally with a leadoff double an important hit for him, since he had been 0 for 12 on the road trip and in a 2-for-23 slump dating back a bit longer.Scutaro called timeout just as Kenley Jansen started his delivery. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went to the mound to calm down his pitcher, and then Scutaro lined the next offering over the shortstops head as Pagan raced home from second base.The single extended Scutaros hitting streak to 18 games the longest current streak in the majors. Hes two away from matching Pagan and Pablo Sandoval for the longest streak by a Giant this season.In fieldThe Giants executed a Brandon-Brandon-Brandon double play in the third inning, when first baseman Brandon Belt made a nice throw to shortstop Brandon Crawford and then scampered back to first base to accept the relay.It was just one in a series of solid plays by the two young infielders. Belt also made a diving stop of an A.J. Ellis grounder down the line in the third. Crawford picked Matt Kemps one-hop smash in the sixth and also made a nice play on Mark Ellis to start the game.Left fielder Xavier Nady stuck another feather in his cap when he threw out Adrian Gonzalez trying to score from second base on a single. Although Gregor Blanco is the superior defender, he has been battling a sore shoulder and theres little doubt that Nady has the stronger arm between the two.AttendanceThe Dodgers announced 33,624 paid which means there were enough empty seats at Dodger Stadium (22,376) to accommodate all 21,162 fans who paid to see the As try to clinch a playoff berth at the Coliseum Monday night.Up nextThe Giants continue their final regular-season series with a Tuesday night game at Dodger Stadium. Theyll try to win an 11th consecutive game in which Barry Zito (14-8, 4.19) takes the ball. The Dodgers counter with left-hander Chris Capuano (12-11, 3.69).

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.