Snakes attack, Giants dethroned

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Snakes attack, Giants dethroned

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PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks completed an improbable run to their first NL West crown in four years, beating San Francisco 3-1 Friday night when rookie Paul Goldschmidt lined a two-run triple off Sergio Romo in the eighth inning.Manager Kirk Gibson's team completed its worst-to-first turnaround in raucous fashion, rallying to beat the Giants with Chase Field buzzing as it rarely did over the past couple of seasons.
URBAN: Cain haunted by torture
A year after going 65-97, Arizona is 91-66 in its first full season under Gibson and heading to the playoffs."I don't care if it's your first year or your 10th year, it's what you set out to do," Gibson said.Ryan Roberts got the go-ahead burst started with a double off Matt Cain (12-11) and Goldschmidt finished it off with his first career triple to the corner in right.David Hernandez (5-3) struck out two after allowing a one-out single in the eighth and J.J. Putz sent the Diamondbacks pouring onto the field with his 44th save."These are the moments you live for," said Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young, who squeezed the last out.The loss dropped the defending World Series champion Giants five games behind Atlanta for the NL wild-card spot. Orlando Cabrera hit his first homer 124 at-bats for San Francisco, which has just five games left."We are breathing. Five games left, we are still breathing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That is why there is no need to talk. We've still got baseball."Behind Gibson's attention-to-detail approach and with a roster of players who seemed to take turns coming through in the clutch, Arizona celebrated its first division crown since 2007 by mobbing Putz near the plate. Fireworks shot out of the scoreboard after Young pulled in the final out and the champagne flowed inside the clubhouse and out, with a handful of players returning to shower their families, friends, even a few of the fans in the front row."This is what I was hoping to do when I woke up this morning," Putz said after his 23rd straight save.What a run it was.Predicted to be another also-ran after a pair of 90-loss seasons, Arizona started the season on a downturn, already 6 12 games out of first by the end of April.Then something clicked.Arizona went through a magnificent May, closing the month 15-3 to take the NL West lead and stayed near the top through July. The Diamondbacks seized control of the division at the end of August into September, going up by as much as 9 12 games before San Francisco came charging back with an eight-game winning streak.But after winning three of four to start this week, Arizona found itself on the cusp of its first NL West title since 2007, needing to beat the Giants just once in the weekend series to pop the corks.As they have all season, the Diamondbacks had to rally to get the clincher.Arizona starter Joe Saunders was hit hard and often, but gave up just one run - on Cabrera's solo homer in the fifth - on nine hits in seven innings to keep Arizona close.Cain was 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA his previous eight starts against the Diamondbacks and again had them baffled early, getting them to swing over his big-breaking curveball or pound it into the ground.Arizona finally got to Cain in the seventh inning, when the right-hander walked Goldschmidt with one out and Young followed with a line-drive double to the wall in left-center to tie the game at 1-all.That set up the eighth-inning rally and, later, a celebration that moved from near second base to the clubhouse, with a brief stop at the dugout steps to acknowledge fans who had been waiting four long years for this moment."They are a team that really does play until the end," said Cain, who allowed three runs on five hits in 7 1-3 innings. "They find different guys each night to spark plug the offense."NOTES: Giants RF Carlos Beltran had a not-so-glamorous moment in the sixth inning, falling face first in the dirt after stepping on his bat while trying to run out a grounder. ... Saturday's game between the Giants and Diamondbacks is a sellout. ... RHP Ian Kennedy will go for win No. 21 against the Giants in the middle game of the series. He's allowed one run or less in 16 starts this season after matching a career-high with 12 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings against Pittsburgh the last time out. ... Rookie LHP Eric Surkamp is expected to pitch for the Giants after having his start pushed back a day to line up Cain to pitch in the season finale.

'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

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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).