Home run barrage lifts Giants past Padres 8-3

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Home run barrage lifts Giants past Padres 8-3

Sept. 12, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Giants outfielder Cody Ross wants his teammates to openly talk about making the playoffs, even if the defending World Series champions still have a lot of ground to make up.At least now San Francisco has an offense to back up Ross' confidence.Ross, Carlos Beltran and Pablo Sandoval homered in a rare show of power at AT&T Park, and the Giants beat the San Diego Padres 8-3 on Monday night.They still trail NL West-leading Arizona by 8 12 games but the outlook is a lot more encouraging than it was a few days ago.That's why Ross wants San Francisco thinking big."Why not?" said Ross, who also singled, doubled and scored three times. "We're not going to give in. We're the defending champs and we've got something to prove. We're going to play through and see what happens."Until recently, the Giants were only proving to be a big disappointment - at least offensively.But one day after scoring eight runs in a win over the Dodgers - the most runs by San Francisco in more than a month - the Giants matched it against the Padres.It's the first time the Giants, the majors' lowest-scoring team since the All-Star break, have done that in back-to-back games since the first two games of the 2010 World Series."It's good to see the guys loosen up and swing the bats like we're capable of," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're trying to finish up strong. We're hanging by a thread, but it's not over."The setting was a lot different than a year ago at this time when these teams battled for the division title in a race that went down to the final day of the regular season.The Giants still harbor slim postseason hopes this year while the Padres are just finishing out the string.Aaron Harang (13-6), who was 4-0 in six previous starts against the Giants, took the loss after allowing all three home runs. The burly right-hander remains three wins shy of his career high."I felt like I couldn't get comfortable out there the first few innings," Harang said. "Sometimes when you are hitting your spots in the bullpen it's not necessarily a good thing when you get (in the game). I just couldn't get into a good rhythm and it felt like I was off mechanically."Eric Surkamp (2-0) pitched 5 2-3 innings for his second major league victory - both coming against San Diego. The left-hander, who beat the Padres on Sept. 6, allowed seven hits and walked one.That might be enough to keep the 24-year-old in the Giants' rotation. Barry Zito, who has two years remaining on the 126 million deal he signed before the 2007 season, came off the disabled list Sunday but will most likely work out of the bullpen unless one of the other starters gets hurt.Most of San Francisco's offense came from the big three of Beltran, Ross and Sandoval.Beltran went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs, Ross added a pair of RBIs and Sandoval capped the night with a towering, three-run homer in the seventh.It's the first time the Giants have hit three home runs in a game at their waterfront ballpark since Sept. 30, 2010."It's nice to get back-to-back games like this from the offense," Ross said. "It's been a lot looser in here the last five or six days. Everyone's not so uptight and tense and trying to hard. Maybe that is the key."Beltran provided some early offense when he snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a two-run shot off Harang in the first. The ball easily cleared the wall in right field, bounced on the cement landing and fell into McCovey Cove.It was Beltran's 18th home run of the season and third since being traded from the Mets to San Francisco on July 28.Ross homered leading off the third, then added an RBI single in the seventh. Sandoval put the game out of reach with his three-run drive off reliever Andrew Carpenter.Harang left after the fifth. He allowed six hits and struck out four.San Diego, which fell to 1-4 on its seven-game road trip, scored a run in the fourth with the help of Surkamp's throwing error, then added two more in the sixth on four consecutive two-out singles to chase the San Francisco rookie.Kyle Banks knocked in one run and Orlando Hudson singled in Chris Denorfia to cut the lead to 4-3.San Diego put two runners on in the eighth but failed to score.Sergio Romo, the fifth San Francisco pitcher, got Hudson to hit into an inning-ending double play, then retired the side in the ninth.NOTES: Giants closer Brian Wilson threw 19 pitches while facing hitters for the first time since going on the disabled list three weeks ago. Wilson will rest the next two days before the team decides what his next step will be. ... C Buster Posey (ankle) played catch before the game and will head to Arizona to start his next phase of rehab. ... OF Will Venable also played catch during batting practice to test his shoulder and could return to San Diego's lineup Tuesday. ... Padres manager Bud Black hinted that prized prospect Anthony Rizzo could get into the starting lineup in the next few days. ... Black said an ineffective slider is to blame for reliever Luke Gregerson's dip in strikeouts this year. Gregerson set a major league record for holds in 2010 and averaged 10.2 strikeouts over nine innings but that number has dipped to 5.6 this year. ... RHP Matt Cain, who lost to San Diego in his last outing despite giving up two runs in seven innings, pitches for San Francisco on Tuesday. Cain (11-10) has won only twice in his previous eight starts. ... LHP Cory Luebke (5-9), who has dropped his last three starts, goes for the Padres.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco …