Bumgarner, Stewart propel Giants past Rockies 9-1

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Bumgarner, Stewart propel Giants past Rockies 9-1

Sept. 16, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
DENVER (AP) -- A late-season surge by Madison Bumgarner is helping to fuel the San Franciso Giants' last-ditch playoff push.Bumgarner allowed one unearned run in seven strong innings and hit a two-run double, leading the Giants past the Colorado Rockies 9-1 on Friday night for their sixth straight win.Brandon Belt, Cody Ross and Chris Stewart all homered for the Giants, who closed within six games of NL West leading Arizona with 11 games remaining. The defending World Series champions also gained ground in the NL wild card race, getting within five games of the Atlanta Braves."We've got to win every game and hope that they don't to have a chance, but everybody is playing relaxed right now," said Bumgarner. "We've got a good vibe in the dugout and a lot of the pressure that seemed to be on everybody is gone."
URBAN: Without Pressure, Giants are flourishing
Added Giants manager Bruce Bochy: "I've been saying this for the last week - we're hanging by a thread. But we're still alive. We're coming out every day trying to win ball games and hopefully get some help."There was one glitch on this otherwise hopeful night for the Giants.Ross, whose fifth-inning solo shot was the 100th homer of his career, left the game with a strained right hamstring in the sixth. He suffered the injury while running to first base after hitting an RBI single.Bochy said after the game that the team expected Ross to miss about a week but remained hopeful he could return for final week of the season."I'm optimistic that it's not as bad right now as I thought, but it is going to take some time," Ross said. "I want to come back as fast as I can and I'll do anything I can to speed it up."
RELATED: Ross exits Giants game early with leg injury
Bumgarner (12-12) allowed six hits in winning his career-best fifth straight. He dropped his ERA in that span to 1.04."This kid is just getting better and better," Bochy said. "He's been on a good roll, really hitting his spots with all his pitches. He's got to feel good about how it's gone for him, especially with the rough start that he had."Alex White (2-2) gave up six runs on nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. White, who has struggled to keep the opposition in the ballpark, gave up two of the Giants' three homers. He has allowed 11 home runs and has an ERA of 8.46 in five starts since coming to the Rockies as a key part of the trade that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland."It's frustrating," White said. "It's time for this not to happen. There's nothing to do but keep working."Belt gave the Giants a 2-0 lead in the fourth when he connected for his second homer in as many days. He drove White's first pitch over the center field fence following Aubrey Huff's one-out single.The Giants went up 3-0 in the fifth when Ross drove an 0-1 offering from White into the Rockies' bullpen behind the right-centerfield fence for his 14th of the season.Colorado got on the board in the fifth when third baseman Pablo Sandoval bobbled Dexter Fowler's grounder for an error, allowing Willin Rosario to score from third base.But the Giants broke the game open with a three-run sixth, with all the runs coming with two outs.Brandon Crawford began the rally by drawing a walk. White hit Chris Stewart with a pitch and Bumgarner then doubled off the centerfield wall, scoring Crawford and Stewart.Ross lined a base hit to left, scoring Bumgarner, but began limping noticably as he ran to first base. The team said Ross strained his right hamstring, and was replaced by pinch runner Andres Torres.With Aaron Cook making his first relief appearance in eight years in the seventh, the Giants added three more runs on Stewart's two-run homer and Crawford's RBI single.Notes: Cook had made 184 consecutive starts for the Rockies since his last relief appearance on Sept. 27, 2003. ... Rookie left-hander Eric Surkamp will be going for his third victory in four outings when he starts for the Giants on Saturday against Rockies. It will be Surkamp's first appearance against the Rockies. He'll be opposed by fellow rookie Drew Pomeranz, a winner in his major league debut for Colorado last time out. ... INF Hector Gomez joined the Rockies on Friday after being recalled from the team's Double-A affiliate in Tulsa, where he hit .235 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. ... The Giants' winning streak is the longest since a seven-game run from June 22-28.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

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Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Panik takes step in right direction, helps Giants build lead Cubs can't overcome

Panik takes step in right direction, helps Giants build lead Cubs can't overcome

CHICAGO — The Giants gave Mark Melancon $62 million to make sure they don’t have an NLDS repeat, and the closer did shut the Cubs down in the ninth Monday. There’s a far cheaper solution to those big problems, however: Score so much that a late-inning implosion doesn’t matter. 

The Giants gave up four in the eighth inning in their first meeting with the Cubs since that infamous Game 4 meltdown, but thanks in large part to Joe Panik, the cushion was large enough. Panik, back atop the leadoff spot with Denard Span aching, reached base four times and had three extra-base hits. He came into the game with a .172 average over his previous 14 games, but he took John Lackey deep to lead off the night. 

“The last couple of days in St. Louis I started feeling better,” Panik said. “I started feeling a little better and today it clicked. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. I felt good. The swing path felt good. It’s going back to staying on the ball and not trying to do too much.”

With the wind rushing out toward the bleachers, there was no need to try and muscle the ball. The Giants hit a season-high three homers and added four doubles. Brandon Belt and Justin Ruggiano also went deep as the lead was stretched to 6-0. After Ruggiano’s blast, a familiar feeling set in.

Ty Blach had been brilliant through seven, but Javier Baez took him deep in the eighth. Derek Law entered and gave up a two-run shot to Ben Zobrist. Just as in Game 4, Bochy started wearing out the track to the mound. Steven Okert faced one batter and plunked him as Hunter Strickland and Melancon started to heat up. Strickland got the call, and after falling behind in the count, he got Willson Contreras to ground into a double play, stranding a pair. 

“No lead is safe on a night like this,” Bochy said of the wind. “It’s not surprising when the other team answers.”

It probably wasn’t surprising to the players on the field. It did, however, bring back bad memories.

“You’re human,” Panik said. “You’re human, but with the bullpen we’ve got, we have confidence that they’ll shut it down.”

As the Cubs rallied in the eighth and again the ninth, a half-dozen key plays from earlier loomed larger. Panik was sent from second by Phil Nevin on a hard single to left and he cut the corner at third perfectly, scoring the second run of the night. Blach helped kill one potential Cubs rally by cutting behind Albert Almora in the sixth. The center fielder had dropped a one-out bloop into right and he made a hard turn. Blach followed him to first, fielded a throw from Ruggiano, and threw Almora out at second, eliminating a baserunner ahead of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

“We work on that all the time,” said Blach, a former minor league Gold Glove winner. “I saw him rounding pretty hard so I tried to sneak in. We were able to catch a guy sleeping.”

Blach was being modest. It is not a play most pitchers make, not in a 5-0 game. It was simply one of many defensive highlights for the Giants, who did just about everything right until the eighth. When the bullpen started to wobble, the lead was large enough that it didn’t matter. 

The win was the eighth in 10 games for a team that’s threatening to get back into the postseason chase. For all that’s gone wrong, the Giants are just 3 1/2 games behind these Cubs. They’ll try to get another one back Tuesday in a reminder of what could have been: Johnny Cueto against Jon Lester.

Earlier this season, Panik would have hit seventh or eighth against Lester, but Bochy said he’ll get another night atop the lineup. The manager said Panik earned it with his first career night with three extra base hits. After the first leadoff homer of his career — and probably life — Panik doubled twice. That helped build the lead, but it led to some ribbing hours later. As Panik addressed reporters, Matt Cain snuck up behind the scrum.

“Ask him why he didn’t try for third on his second double,” Cain whispered.