Instant Replay: Giants 5, Braves 2


Instant Replay: Giants 5, Braves 2


SAN FRANCISCO Barry Zito fell short of his second shutout of the season and the Giants capitalized on some sloppy Atlanta defense to beat the Braves 5-2 in the first of four games between the 2010 National League Division Series opponents at AT&T Park.Starting pitching report Whenever Barry Zito starts his outing with a walk, a smattering of boos can be heard at AT&T Park because its a familiarly hopeless feeling. Zito did just that Thursday, but benefitted from some solid defense behind him before getting into a rhythm and cruising until back-to-back singles leading off the ninth forced him from the game.After Michael Bourn trotted to first thanks to four straight balls from Zito to open the game, the Braves looked poised to pounce for a first-inning run against Zito, who is 8-3 this season when holding the opposition scoreless in the opening frame. Hes 1-5 on the campaign when allowing a first-inning run. Zito bobbled Reed Johnsons comebacker to make a double-play impossible, but recovered to get the out at first, then watched as Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt combined on a great play behind him. Zito proceeded to walk Chipper Jones, who is making his final regular-season visit to AT&T Park, but struck out Freddie Freeman to escape unscathed.The second inning started even worse for Zito, as Dan Uggla and Brian McCann put together back-to-back singles. After both runners advanced on a groundout, Zito stabbed Tommy Hansons comebacker and caught Uggla off the third-base bag, where Sandoval received Zitos throw and applied the tag. Zito got Bourn to fly out to left to keep the Braves off the board again.Following the back-to-back singles in the second, Zito went on a roll. He retired 11 of his next 12 batters through the top of the fifth inning and 20 of his next 22 through the top of the eighth.Having thrown 108 pitches through eight innings, Zito came back out for the ninth to go for his second shutout of the season and sixth of his career. He fell short, however, allowing back-to-back singles to open the inning before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt.Zito allowed five hits in his eight-plus innings of work, which included five strikeouts, three walks, and 113 pitches, 68 of which were strikes. It was the third outing of the season in which Zito worked at least eight innings. He allowed no runs while on the mound in those three starts, though two of his runners came around to score on Thursday.Bullpen report
Bruce Bochy brought Jeremy Affeldt in to relieve Zito and promptly gave up a frozen rope double to Freddie Freeman as the Braves cut the Giants lead to 5-2. After Affeldt walked Dan Uggla to bring the tying run to the plate in Brian McCann, Bochy went with another lefty in Javier Lopez, who promptly struck out McCann looking.The closer-by-committee is in full effect, as Bochy turned to Sergio Romo for the final out. Original left-handed pinch-hitter David Ross was called back and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez went with Jason Heyward instead. Heyward grounded the second pitch of the at-bat to second base, but beat out the relay throw to avoid a game-ending double play. Romo stayed in to face another lefty in Juan Francisco, who grounded out to Pablo Sandoval at third to end the game.At the plate
Angel Pagan had seven hits in the sweep of the Dodgers, leading off every game with a hit. That streak lives after he singled to lead off the bottom of the first. He advanced to second on an off-target pickoff throw by Tommy Hanson, but was left stranded when Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence went down in order.Hector Sanchez broke a 10 at-bat hitless streak with a one-out double in the second inning, but like Pagan he was left stranded.Pagan set the table again in the third with a one-out walk, then stole second base. This time, however, he was not left stranded, thanks to a two-out single from Pablo Sandoval on a hanging breaking ball at his eyes. Sandoval drove the pitch the other way to left field and Pagan slid just ahead of Brian McCanns tag for the games first run.The Giants stranded two more baserunners in the fifth inning and were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position at that point, but broke the game wide open in the fifth.Pagan was the rally-starter once again, as he drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on Scutaros single. After an ugly at-bat from Sandoval resulting in a swinging strikeout, Pence placed a perfect bunt between first and second behind the pitchers mound to plate Pagan. First baseman Freddie Freeman made the inning turn from bad to worse for the Braves, as he booted Brandon Belts grounder and was charged with a run-scoring error. Sanchez, starting in place of the injured Buster Posey, followed with his second double of the game, down the first-base line past Freeman, to score Pence and Belt giving the Giants a 5-0 lead.The Giants were quiet with the bats the rest of the way, but that would be all that was necessary for Barry Zito, who expanded his team lead in sacrifices with his eighth on a bunt in the eighth inning.In field Pablo Sandoval helped Barry Zito work around a leadoff walk in the first inning with a sliding stop of Martin Prados sharp ground ball. After getting his glove on the ball, Sandoval threw low to first, where Brandon Belt scooped the one-hop throw. The play was eerily similar to one Sandoval and Belt teamed up for in the series finale in Los Angeles.Zito bailed himself out of a jam with a wise play on a comebacker from pitcher Tommy Hanson. With Dan Uggla at third and Brian McCann at first following back-to-back singles to open the frame, Zito stabbed Hansons ball and caught Uggla leaning by throwing back to Sandoval covering third.On the bases The threat of Angel Pagans speed led to an errant pick-off throw in the first. He was left stranded that inning, but came back after a one-out walk in the third to steal his 21st base of the season and came around to score the first run of the game.Brandon Belt followed up his fourth-inning single with his 10th steal of the season. Hes only been caught once so far.Attendance
The Giants announced their 146th consecutive sellout with a paid crowd of 41,645 fans. One of those fans was selected for the mid-inning bat-spin home run derby game and, before winning, went headfirst into a fence in a spell of dizziness.Up next The Giants continue their four-game series with the Braves in a Friday night game that will pit Ryan Vogelsong (10-7, 2.85 ERA) vs. Ben Sheets (4-3, 3.07 ERA). Vogelsongs only career start against Atlanta came earlier this season on July 18, when he allowed one run in six innings, but was left with a no decision in the Giants wild 9-4 extra-innings win.

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

SAN FRANCISCO — After the final out Monday night, a round table was carried into the corner of the home clubhouse at AT&T Park and surrounded by chairs. Eleven players were sitting, eating, drinking and laughing as Chris Stratton prepared to address the media. 

It was a rare sight for the Giants these days, a very rare sight. But then, so was Monday’s result. Stratton led the way in a 2-0 win over the Brewers that was the first home shutout of the season and motivated the joyous post-game scene. 

The shutout was just the second of the season for the staff. Ty Blach went the distance in the other one and Stratton, a fellow rookie, did the heavy lifting Monday, throwing six strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. Matt Cain pitched the seventh, Mark Melancon pitched the eighth while going back-to-back for the first time in three months, and Sam Dyson closed it out quickly. 

There’s a chance that Stratton joins that group in a few days. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night in Sacramento and that could put him on track to return to the rotation a turn later. That would line up with Stratton’s next start, but Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to kick the young righty out of the rotation, not after back-to-back scoreless starts against two of the better lineups in the league. A few days after striking out 10 Washington Nationals, Stratton cut through the Brewers. He has 12 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two appearances. 

“For how we’re using him, he’s really handled it well,” Bochy said. “We skipped him, moved him back three or four days, but he doesn’t let it faze him. This is an important time for these young players coming up, whether it’s (Ryder) Jones or (Jarrett) Parker or Stratton. They’re trying to show they belong in the Major Leagues.

“You’re hoping these guys show they’re ready to play here and we don’t have to do something else because we can do it internally.”

Bochy said he could use a six-man rotation when Cueto returns, or a starter could be skipped. That will all sort itself, but the manager made one thing clear. 

“We’d like to pitch him as much as we can,” Bochy said of Stratton.

That’s the same thing Bochy used to say of another right-hander, one he compared Stratton to before Monday’s game. Bochy was asked about Yusmeiro Petit, and he smiled and fondly stated, “He was so good. So good.” The Giants see some Petit in Stratton. He is unaffected by long layoffs and he’s capable of starting, relieving, or even pumping his fastball up a couple ticks for short outings. 

Petit was a mainstay in San Francisco for years, a key cog in a championship team. Bochy has been looking for that piece since Petit departed in free agency, and Stratton seems like he might be suited for the role. He will want more, of course, because all pitchers do. The Giants will give him five more weeks here to try and earn that. 

For the moment, Stratton’s focus is elsewhere. He turns 27 on Monday and the celebration started early. As Stratton answered questions, veterans at the table heckled him about striking out just one Brewer. 

“I left all the strikeouts in Washington, I guess,” Stratton said. 

Nick Hundley walked up with a TV remote and held it up between the cameras. 

“What was your thought on the punchout?” he asked. 

“I’m glad he swung,” Stratton said, smiling. “It was a ball.”

“Did you think about getting any more?” Hundley asked. 

With that, he smiled and ducked back behind the cameras to return to the celebration in the corner. A few minutes later, Stratton joined him.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017


SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach has been a bright spot in this losing season, giving the Giants a young, cost-controlled lefty who can potentially fill a huge role next season. Chris Stratton is trying to do the same thing from the right side. 

The 26-year-old continued his August surge, throwing six dominant innings against the Brewers in a 2-0 win that was the staff's first shutout at AT&T Park this season. 

It was the kind of night that's been so familiar over the years. The Giants had six home shutouts last season. Here are five things to know from this year's first ... 

—- The Brewers are first in the league in homers and the Nationals are third, so Stratton had his work cut out for him the last two times out. His results: 12 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s quite the statement. Stratton’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Chris Heston threw 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in July of 2015. 

—- Matt Cain was used as a short reliever to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout. 

—- Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back games for the first time since May 19-20. He struck out Neil Walker and Ryan Braun in a perfect inning. 

—- Jarrett Parker reached base his first three times up. He’s hitting .385 at home this season but he’s just 4-for-35 (.114) on the road. Weird splits for a Giant slugger. 

—- Brandon Crawford is finally finding some traction. His double in the fourth was the big hit in a two-run frame that gave Stratton a lead to work with. Crawford is 7-for-17 on the home stand with three extra-base hits and four RBI.