Lincecum out, Zito in as Giants open Philly series


Lincecum out, Zito in as Giants open Philly series

July 26, 2011

GIANTS (59-43) vs.

Coverage begins at 4 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

UPDATE: Lincecum out with flu symptoms, Zito to start

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants ended the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies' season with a six-game victory in last year's NL championship series, en route to a World Series title of their own.

With Tim Lincecum and Vance Worley on the mound for the series opener Tuesday night in Philadelphia, the rematch between these division leaders becomes even more intriguing.

The Giants' 3-2 victory in Game 6 in Philadelphia set the stage for the franchise's first World Series title since moving from New York to San Francisco prior to the 1958 season. Now set to face each other for the first time since, the NL East-leading Phillies (64-37) own baseball's best record while the Giants (59-43) have a four-game cushion atop the NL West.

URBAN: Giants' five differences from 2010

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy is aware of the hype, even if this three-game set won't determine the final standings.

"Sure, there's going to be some added interest in this series, but there's a lot of baseball left," Bochy told the Giants' official website. "We've got to play our best ball with the team they have (in Philadelphia) -- (leading) their division, (having) the best record. When you go in there, you better be on top of your game."

Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino is also set on bigger goals.

"I don't walk around saying I want revenge on these guys," he said. "Revenge would be bringing the trophy back to Philly."

That quest continues against Lincecum (8-8, 2.90 ERA), who pitched one-third of an inning in Game 6 of the NLCS after taking the loss in Game 5.

SIEGEL: Lincecum offers 'bulletin board material'

The left-hander has a 1.84 ERA over his last seven starts, but only a 3-3 record to show for it as he's received seven total runs of support in those outings. His tough luck continued Wednesday, when he limited the Dodgers to one run in seven innings but got charged with a 1-0 loss.

The Giants, winners of 9 of their last 12 including a 2-1 victory over Milwaukee on Sunday, haven't produced much offense for any pitcher of late. San Francisco has scored eight runs over its last four games and is the major leagues' only team without a player with at least 10 home runs.

RELATED: Giants vs. Philadelphia stat pack
Worley (6-1, 2.02) has been just as good as Lincecum lately, and he'll look to keep the Giants' offense in check. He's allowed either one earned run or none in eight of his 10 starts, and has won his last four while sporting a 0.99 ERA. He allowed one run in eight innings of a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old rookie right-hander wasn't in Philadelphia's star-studded rotation at the beginning of the season, but he's stepped up after injuries to Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton.

The Phillies, who are 10-2 in Worley's starts, look to bounce back after having their five-game winning streak snapped in a 5-4 loss to San Diego on Monday, when their No. 1-4 hitters - Jimmy Rollins, Michael Martinez, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard - went a combined 2 for 13.

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Howard is hitting .171 since the All-Star break, but he's 6 for 19 with two doubles, three walks and three homers lifetime against Lincecum. However, Victorino (4 for 21) and Utley (2 for 20) haven't fared as well versus the two-time NL Cy Young winner.

If the Phillies get Lincecum out of the game, they'll have to contend with a Giants bullpen which has a 0.28 ERA since the break. San Francisco relievers have allowed one hit in 13 2-3 scoreless innings over the last six games.

BERNSTEIN: Move over Dodgers? Philling a rivalry void

These teams split six regular-season meetings in 2010.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.