Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Cubs 5

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Cubs 5

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO The Giants have hit the fewest home runs in the major leagues. The wind was blowing in off Lake Michigan Sunday afternoon, too.

Good thing they can string hits together like Christmas lights.

Even without Melky Cabera, and a total lack of power from positions of traditional thump, the Giants keep finding ways to move the line along. Xavier Nady started all three of their scoring rallies, including a two-run sixth that tied the score and a two-run ninth that delivered a 7-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Nady, who hit a bases-clearing double in his Giants debut Saturday, was an impact presence once again. He walked to start two innings, including a three-run third. His final act was to draw a walk from Carlos Marmol to begin the ninth. Pinch-runner Gregor Blanco stole a base and scored the tiebreaking run on Angel Pagans single to left field. Marco Scutaro followed with another RBI single as the Giants pulled out a series victory and concluded a highly successful 5-1 road trip.

The Giants are 10-2 in their last dozen road games and have won four consecutive series away from AT&T Park. They wont stray further from Denver the remainder of the season.

Starting pitching report
Matt Cain was cruising toward his 14th victory, which would have matched his career high. But Soriano dashed those plans with one swing in the fifth inning.

Cain knew immediately that his poorly located 1-0 fastball wasnt coming back unless thrown by a bleacher creature. He bent at the waist and slapped the mound as Soriano watched his three-run home run cut through the lake breeze.

Until then, Cain was having a very good day. He gave up a run in the third inning when No. 8 hitter Darwin Barney singled, advanced on a sacrifice and scored on David DeJesus line single.

The Cubs used the same combination Barney single, a sacrifice and a DeJesus line single to right field to score again in the fifth. But DeJesus didnt get an RBI this time because the third base coach had held Barney before right fielder Hunter Pence bobbled the ball. Pence was charged with an error for allowing Barney to score.

After a walk to Luis Valbuena and a fielders choice, Cain faced Soriano with two outs. Back in the third inning, Cain was able to get out of a two-on, two-out situation when he threw a pair of two-strike curveballs and got Soriano to swing through the last one.

But this time Cain fell behind, and his 1-0 pitch wasnt remotely close to Buster Poseys low-and-away target. The fastball ran up and tailed middle-in, right into Sorianos happy zone.

Cain retired the next hitter to end the fifth but the damage was done. The home run turned a 3-2 lead into a 5-3 deficit.

Bullpen report
The Giants dont win without near perfect work from their relievers. Jose Mijares, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla navigated the sixth through the eighth.

Casilla began the ninth and yielded to left-hander Javier Lopez after giving up a one-out single.

At the plate
The Giants have done a credible job of scoring runs without the longball, and they did it again while grabbing a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey hit RBI singles in a four-batter span.

Nady set up the inning with a leadoff walk and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo threw wide for an error as Cain reached after getting down a sacrifice bunt.

Nady also started the Giants two-run rally in the sixth with a double, and when the Cubs pulled left-hander Travis Wood for right-hander Manuel Corpas, Giants manager Bruce Bochy sent up Brandon Belt to pinch hit for first baseman Brett Pill. Belt tripled into the left field corner to score Nady.

Then Bochy sent pinch hitter Aubrey Huff to the plate for the first time since July 30 (and just the fourth at-bat since June 10). Considering the long layoff, Huff had an impressive at-bat. He fouled off a two-strike pitch to stay alive, then Belt scored the tying run on a wild breaking ball in the dirt.

Huff ended up hitting a deep out to right field.

In field
Soriano didnt merely frustrate Cain with his home run swing. The left fielder also denied Cain when he crashed against the ivy while catching the pitchers well-struck drive in the fourth.

Soriano returned to his more familiar fielding foibles glove in the sixth when he didnt look so smooth while failing to catch Belts triple in the left field corner.

Angel Pagan had a right to feel robbed. Third baseman Luis Valbuena made a diving stop of a hard-hit grounder to take away a single from Pagan in the fifth inning. And center fielder Brett Jackson charged before making a sliding catch of Pagans flare in the seventh.

Blanco made a huge contribution in the ninth when he caught Brett Jacksons leadoff shot against the ivy in left field. Plus there was Blancos stolen base, too. Hes the new Darren Ford on this team.

Attendance
The Cubs announced 39,760 paid. Olympic hockey legend Phil Esposito was the guest conductor for Take Me Out to the Ballgame. He believes in miracles, obviously. But the Cubs winning the World Series? You might need something stronger.

Up next
The Giants play their final 28 games against NL West teams, beginning with a Labor Day matinee against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday. Barry Zito (10-8, 4.42) will oppose left-hander Patrick Corbin (5.6, 3.93). Ryan Vogelsong is scheduled to pitch Tuesday against right-hander Ian Kennedy (12-11, 4.27) and Madison Bumgarner is due to pitch the series finale Wednesday against right-hander Trevor Cahill (9-11, 4.02). The Giants are 27-17 within the division thus far this season.

Bumgarner allows two runs, Giants start spring training with walk-off homer

Bumgarner allows two runs, Giants start spring training with walk-off homer

BOX SCORE

At Scottsdale, Arizona, Chris Marrero hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth and drove in four runs as the Giants rallied after Madison Bumgarner gave up two runs on two hits in the top of the first.

Marrero, a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Nationals trying to revive his career as a non-roster invitee, had an RBI single in the fifth.

Kevin Shackelford, the seventh Cincinnati pitcher, walked Orlando Calixte to open the ninth and Christian Arroyo blooped a single into left field before Marrero hit a line drive over the wall in left centerfield.

Patrick Kivlehan had a two-run single off Bumgarner in the first and Hunter Pence doubled in a run off Reds starter Rookie Davis. Davis, acquired from the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal, is likely to open with Double-A Pensacola this year.

Giants spring training Day 12: Pence hits early, Marrero crushes walk-off HR

Giants spring training Day 12: Pence hits early, Marrero crushes walk-off HR

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bruce Bochy thought he might take it slow with Hunter Pence this spring. Pence, of course, had other ideas. 

Pence, who was held back by intercostal soreness during the first week of workouts, insisted on playing the Cactus League opener. He drove in the first Giants run of the new year with a double off the wall in the bottom of the first inning. 

“I just like to be out there Game 1,” Pence said. “It’s a message. It’s good to be out there. I have every intention of being ready to play every game of the season, so getting out there Game 1 is important to me.”

Bochy played plenty of regulars on the first day, but they were long gone when this one was decided in dramatic fashion. Chris Marrero, a non-roster invitee, hit a three-run walk-off homer as the Giants topped the Reds 6-4.

Marrero, 28, was one of the lead targets for a scouting staff that has made a habit of finding non-roster gems. The former first-round pick hit 23 homers for Boston’s Triple-A team and the Giants went after him hard when he became a minor league free agent. Marrero said his agent got a call within the first five minutes. It was an easy decision, in part because of the non-roster history here and in part because Marrero never got a call-up despite minor league success with the Red Sox. 

“If this team wants you, it’s a good thing,” Marrero said of the Giants. 

Marrero plays first base and the outfield, and while there are plenty of longtime big leaguers in camp, he certainly made a statement on the first day. The slider he hit went out to left in a hurry. 

“He’s a right-handed bat with power,” Bochy said. “He threw out good at-bats on the first day. We’re excited he signed with us. He’s going to get some at-bats here.”

THE ACE: Bochy gave Madison Bumgarner the option of skipping this game and making his debut next week, but Bumgarner — who typically doesn’t throw off a mound until he gets to camp — wanted to face hitters. “I thought it’d be good to get out there and get my feet wet,” he said. Bumgarner worked with Nick Hundley, who made some friends the first time out. 

PROSPECT WATCH: Clayton Blackburn delivered a bit of a message with two perfect innings: Don’t forget about me. 

Blackburn has been bumped down the depth chart by Ty Blach and Tyler Beede, but he was sharp while striking out three. “He was right on, wasn’t he?” Bochy said.

Blackburn was a big story last spring, coming off a season where he led the PCL with a 2.85 ERA. He had a 4.36 ERA last season and that led to some offseason changes. Blackburn said he threw off a mound 10-12 times before coming to camp last year, but he limited it to a handful of sessions this year, instead focusing on flat-ground throws into a net.

“You only have so many bullets,” he said, noting there was some fatigue last season. “You can’t waste them all in the offseason.”

Blackburn was called up last season but never got into a game. 

“There’s definitely a lot more hunger,” he said. “It’s always cool to get called up, but it was disappointing not to get in and not see any more time the rest of the year. It’s disappointing, but it’s part of the game.”

With a few more outings like Friday’s, Blackburn will get that second shot. His peripherals were just about the same across the board in 2015 and 2016, with the glaring difference being 12 additional homers in a hitter-friendly league. If he cuts back on the home runs, there’s no reason why Blackburn can’t get back in the mix here. 

NOTEWORTHY: Jimmy Rollins was 1-for-2 in his Giants debut, with a run scored … Wynton Bernard, the speedy outfielder plucked from Detroit’s system, scored on a double and two wild pitches … Jae-gyun Hwang didn’t have the best debut. He struck out twice and stumbled (for an error) on a slow roller to third ... Healthy Joe Panik had two hits in two at-bats ... Orlando Calixte played second and short and Bochy lit up when talking about his versatility. Calixte will see time in the outfield this spring, too. 

FAMILIAR FACES: It was 2010 Day at the ballpark, as Freddy Sanchez, Bengie Molina and Jeremy Affeldt were all on the field during BP. Molina and Affeldt were part of broadcast teams, but Sanchez was here with his under-9 travel ball team. Per Sanchez, the team is the best U9 team in Arizona. 

QUOTABLE: “We feed off each other and I know he feeds off of me. Hunter is a special cat. He’s the most positive person you’ll ever come across, but it’s hard because he plays with the team-first mentality and he puts himself second and sometimes that gets really hard on a person and can weigh a person down. I like to be there with him and bounce things off of him and try to keep him light and energetic. I’m not saying I take anything away from him, but don’t let him carry this big burden. Be that guy for him. He can be Batman, I’ll be Robin.” --- Mike Morse during an interview that airs on my podcast this week. You can stream it online here or download it on iTunes here.