Total team effort leads to Giants' 5-2 win over Braves

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Total team effort leads to Giants' 5-2 win over Braves

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SAN FRANCISCO The Giants are arguably playing their bestbaseball of the season and theyre doing it without a player who was arguablytheir first-half MVP. They were also without their second-half MVP as BusterPosey was a spectator for all of Thursdays 5-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.Melky Cabrera is long gone and Buster Poseys hamstring issue is lingering,putting pressure on teammates like Pablo Sandoval, Angel Pagan and HectorSanchez to deliver the run support.Pagan was a sparkplug atop the lineup again, Sandoval drove him in on a pitchat his neck for the games first run and Hector Sanchez broke it open to giveBarry Zito enough cushion to get into a groove. Zito (10-8) worked eight-plusinnings and watched the bullpen surrender his shutout but hold on for the win,which improves Zito to 9-1 this season, 36-3 as a Giant, and 121-7 in hiscareer when he receives four or more runs of support.I thought his stuff was crisp and he was using all hispitches, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Breaking ball was very goodtonight, his fastball too. He made pitches when he had to and had good focusout there. He just had a different look tonight.Zitos look was all too familiar after he walked Braves leadoff man MichaelBourn on four straight pitches to open the game. But Pablo Sandoval made asparkling defensive play behind him, with an assist to Brandon Belt, and Zitodid the rest to escape the early jam.Its huge, Zito said of the highlight-reel play Sandovaland Belt combined for. Martin Prado connected pretty good on that and for usto be able to shut that down, that inning right there, and get some momentumand allow the offense to do what they do was big. Pablo made a huge playtonight.The last couple games, Ive been doing that, Sandoval said of his one-hopthrow across the diamond. Belt is a great first baseman; I call him The PickMachine.Sandoval already has a nickname, but The Slop Machinemight be more fitting after he put good wood on a ball way above the strikezone to drive in Pagan in the third inning for a 1-0 Giants lead.Hes aggressive up there, Bochy said of his current No. 3hitter, Melky Cabreras old spot in the lineup. Hes the type of guy that doesexpand the zone, but he also has that ability to hit a pitch out of the zonewell. That pitch there, he made an adjustment from the first time up. He feltlike he was trying to get a little pull happy there so he went the other way.You have anybody in the heart of the order, you want them to swing the bat.Sandoval doesnt need to be told to swing the bat; it comes naturally to him.But there was a thought process behind that hack.That was a curveball, Sandoval said of the hanger he sentthe other way. The at-bat before, they threw me the same pitch, so I just wentup there and got a pitch high to try to put the ball in play, try to get a linedrive. He threw me that curveball almost at my head, so I hit it.The Pick Machine Belt was also in the middle of the Giants next rally, afour-run fifth that ended up more important in retrospect when the Braves made thingsinteresting in the ninth. Though Belts grounder down the first-base line wasruled an error on Freddie Freeman, it was the Giants third run, which turnedout to be the game-winner in a 5-2 final. Before Belt got to the plate in the fifth, Pagan started the rally by gettingon base for the third straight time with his second walk. Pagan, who extendedhis hit streak to seven games, came around to score when Hunter Pence shockedthe crowd and his own skipper with a perfect push bunt.I was as surprised as anybody when he broke that out on us, Bochy said. Itwas not a play. He says hes done it before. You give him credit. When yourenot locked in at that plate, you want to do anything you can to get the run in.And he took it upon himself to do a push bunt there and you couldnt lay down abetter one. It did surprise me; I didnt see it coming.After Pence and Belt kept the line moving, Sanchez tacked onthe Giants final two runs with his second double of the game. The Giantsyoung backstop came into the game hitless in his last 10 at-bats and 5-for-28 in13 contests since being activated from the disabled list on August 2.Make adjustments, Sanchez said of his strategy. I was late and I wasntswinging the ball very well. But I came in today and worked in the cage earlyand thats the result.The Giants four-run fifth came after Zito had mowed down 11 of the last 12batters he had faced. Zito was in cruise control after getting the five-runcushion until he allowed back-to-back singles to open the ninth. That forcedBochy to turn to his bullpen, despite some misgivings.I checked with him, Bochy said of his pre-ninth inningtalk with Zito. He came up and said I feel good. When I went out to get himhe said Im sorry. He felt horrible. Just a great job he did. You do want toreward a pitcher; it feels good. This time I had to get him early and thatsnot a lot of fun, but he earned that shot to go out there and try and finishit. Next couple guys got on so I had no choice but I thought his eighth inningwas very good. It looked like he was comfortable and free and easy so I let himstart the ninth.Zito had no hard feelings, expressing appreciation for the chance to go for hissecond shutout of the season and sixth of his career.Its awesome that he let me go out there, Zito said. Iwanted to go out there and finish it and I felt like I could, I was justfrustrated I didnt make my pitches like I had been all night and risked theteam possibly giving up the lead too.Luck for Zito, and Bochy, the Giants didnt give up the lead, though theyneeded three relievers to get the final three outs.Jeremy Affeldt was the first to get the call and allowed both inherited runnersto score on Freemans double. Situational southpaw Javier Lopez was next inline and did his job by striking out lefty Brian McCann. After a pseudo-chess game between Bochy and Braves managerFredi Gonzalez, the next matchup came down to Sergio Romo vs. Jason Heyward.The right-handed Romo had no problem with the lefty who finished a close secondto Posey in the 2010 Rookie of the Year voting, getting Heyward to ground intoa fielders choice that almost turned into a game-ending double play. Instead,Juan Francisco has the distinction of ending Thursdays contest, as he groundedout to Sandoval at third. When you do it by committee, thats the way it goes, Bochysaid. Guys get hot and guys have their tough times, whatever. But we have fourguys that were comfortable putting out there to finish off a game. Its a niceluxury to have, guys who are used to pitching late in the game. Well get thematchups hopefully that we like and that we can get, but theyll all be used.The ninth inning may have taken longer than Bochy, Zito or the fans wanted dueto all the pitching changes, but the end result is a win, San Franciscos fourthstraight. The Giants are now a season-high 15-games over .500, having won nineof their last 12 games.Melky who?

Former Giants top prospect earns first career MLB win with Twins

Former Giants top prospect earns first career MLB win with Twins

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Adalberto Mejia made the most of his brief stint back in the majors with the Minnesota Twins by getting his first big-league win.

Robbie Grossman, Max Kepler and Chris Gimenez all homered to help Mejia and the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 8-4 in the second game Sunday to salvage a split of a doubleheader.

Mejia (1-1) was the Twins' 26th active player for the second game and allowed three runs in seven innings, on two home runs by Salvador Perez - who also went deep in the first game.

Mejia's reward for his first win? A trip back to Triple-A Rochester.

"I'm going to go down there and work on the things they told me work on," Mejia said through interpreter Carlos Font. "Then it will be up to them to see when I get back."

Grossman and Kepler each hit two-run homers in the first inning, and Brian Dozier had an RBI double in the second off Ian Kennedy (0-4) in his first game back from the disabled list.

Brandon Moss hit two of Kansas City's four home runs in the opener of the doubleheader, and Perez and Jorge Bonifacio each hit two-run homers to lead the Royals to a 6-4 win earlier in the day.

With the split, the Twins are now 7-1 on the year against the Royals. Kansas City's win in the first game snapped a seven-game losing streak against Minnesota.

Kennedy, who returned after missing time with a hamstring strain, said he felt fine physically. He walked three batters and gave up a pair of two-run homers in just two innings Sunday.

"He was way out of whack," manager Ned Yost said. "His leg was fine. He felt normal, felt good. Just timing was off, rhythm was off."

MINOR'S WIN

Mike Minor's road back to the majors was not an easy one. Shoulder surgery kept him out of the majors for two years and resulted in a move to the bullpen.

Minor got his first victory since 2014 with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the first game Sunday. He relieved Jake Junis with a 5-2 lead in the fifth, two outs and two on. The 29-year-old left-hander walked Max Kepler, then retired Kennys Vargas on a popup. Minor retired the side in order in the sixth.

Minor had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder in May 13, 2015, and did not appear in the major leagues in 2015 and 2016. Minor, who signed a $7.25 million, two-year contract with the Royals in February 2016, got his first major league victory since Aug. 28, 2014, for Atlanta.

JUNIS' FIRST START

Kansas City's Jake Junis, a 24-year-old right-hander, was recalled from Triple-A Omaha and made his first big league start after a pair of relief appearances. He allowed two runs, five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings, leaving after RBI singles from Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano.

Junis found out Saturday that he would be making his first career start. He didn't pitch deep enough to get the win, but impressed manager Ned Yost before the Royals optioned Junis back to Omaha after the game.

"I thought he did a nice job," Yost said. "We tried to get him through that fifth inning, but we needed to win this game."

ROYALS MOVES

Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon missed the second game to join his wife, who is due to give birth on Monday. Infielder Raul Mondesi replacing Gordon on the roster but was optioned to Triple-A Omaha after the game. That means LHP Miguel Almonte, initially the Royals' 26th active player Sunday, remains on the 25-man roster. ... RHP Al Alburquerque was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Junis.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: RHP Nate Karns had his pitching arm evaluated after Friday's start against Minnesota. Manager Ned Yost said fluid was found in the elbow area but Karns does not have a strain. Karns exited his start Friday after five innings and threw just 72 pitches due to stiffness in his arm.

Twins: RHP Phil Hughes was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday with shoulder discomfort. Hughes took the loss in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader. Right-hander Kyle Gibson will take Hughes' place on the roster.

UP NEXT

Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA) starts Monday's series opener at the New York Yankees.

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (0-4, 8.20 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start Monday against Baltimore.

Heston makes first start with Mariners, allows seven in three innings

Heston makes first start with Mariners, allows seven in three innings

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SEATTLE -- Yolmer Sanchez had a two-run single in Chicago's five-run first inning, Derek Holland pitch eight strong innings and the White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 8-1 Sunday.

Tim Anderson had three hits and two RBIs for the White Sox, including his fifth home run - a solo shot in the third inning - and Matt Davidson added two hits and two RBIs. Sanchez's single in the first extended his hitting streak to 12 games, tying a career high.

Holland (4-3) gave up a run and six hits while striking out six and walking two. He finished his longest outing of the season by striking out the side in the eighth inning.

Nelson Cruz hit his 11th home run in the seventh for the Mariners, who have lost three straight.

Seattle starter Chris Heston (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Tacoma before the game to make his first major league start since Oct. 2, 2015, was roughed up for seven runs and seven hits in three innings. He walked the bases loaded in the first before giving up four straight hits.

Heston became the 11th pitcher to start for the Mariners this season, the most in the major leagues. In his only other appearance this year, he gave up five runs on seven hits in two innings of relief against Detroit on April 25.

LET'S TURN TWO

The White Sox turned four double plays, equaling the team's season high - set Saturday.

TRAINERS ROOM

White Sox: OF Leury Garcia was back in the starting lineup after missing two games. Garcia was hit on the elbow in Thursday's series opener.

Mariners: 1B Danny Valencia missed his second straight game after hurting his left wrist on a slide in Friday's game, and had an MRI Sunday. First baseman Daniel Vogelbach was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma and started at first base in his place. ... Seattle manager Scott Servais said LHP James Paxton, on the DL with a left forearm strain, will probably have a rehab assignment at Double-A Arkansas later this week. If all goes well Paxton could return after the Mariners' upcoming eight-game road trip. ... OF Mitch Haniger (strained right oblique) will also likely start a rehab assignment this week.

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Miguel Gonzalez (3-4, 4.29) starts in Chicago's series opener at Arizona. Gonzalez is 0-4 with a 6.94 ERA in his last four starts.

Mariners: Seattle has a day off Monday. RHP Christian Bergman starts Tuesday at Washington. Bergman is coming off the best outing of his career, when he held Oakland scoreless over 7 1/3 innings with a career high nine strikeouts.