Saturday, September 8, 2012

GIANTS      78-60   ...            Biggest lead of the season so far
Los Angeles 73-66   5.5 GB    Player-pickup frenzy hasn't paid off yet

Giants defeated LA, 5-2.

Giants face LA in round two at 1:05 PDT (4:05 EDT). Matt Cain opposes southpaw Chris Capuano, whose early-season success has faded of late.

Last Night's Game
The Dodgers have been moving heaven and earth, player-wise, to get a pennant-winning lineup onto the field in the face of many injuries and struggles. Last night Josh Beckett, one-time World Series ace for two clubs, kept a lid on things for five innings, allowing three hits and one run. LA held a 2-1 lead thanks to a small-ball rally in the third and a solo homer by Adam Kennedy-- who certainly experienced both the highs and lows of this game within one hour-- in the sixth. Meanwhile, Tim Lincecum was uncharacteristically wild (seven walks to match his seven Ks in six-plus), but overall good enough to win, though he didn't. The Giants picked him up in the sixth when Angel Pagan, fighting his recent slump, led off with a bunt single that Kennedy couldn't handle. Buster Posey worked Beckett for a walk, and Hunter Pence then grounded one between third and short. It appeared to be shortstop Hanley Ramirez' ball, but Kennedy, perhaps trying to make something happen, waved at it and flicked it into left field as Pagan came in to tie the score. LA manager Don Mattingly, clearly irritated by all this, yanked Kennedy in favor of one Luis Cruz an inning later. It didn't help. Hector Sanchez and Brandon Crawford opened with a hit and a walk; Bruce Bochy, sensing blood in the water, sent Gregor Blanco in to run for Sanchez. With the sold-out crowd sending up a tremendous racket, pinch- hitter Emmanuel Burris dropped a perfect sac bunt to advance the two. Facing the toughest defensive situation in baseball, Mattingly had Beckett walk Pagan to face Marco Scutaro. It was six weeks ago the Giants picked this guy up when it became apparent Freddy Sanchez wasn't coming back; that little deal was completely overshadowed by LA's concurrent acquisition of Ramirez. Well, how do you like me now? Scutaro's broken-bat blooper dropped untouched into right field, two runs scored, and the Giants owned the night, They added another run in the eighth and Sergio Romo got the save with three groundouts in the ninth, but the game truly turned in the seventh. And let's give another hand to Bochy: defying the silly habit of holding back your closer until you have a lead in the ninth, he went with Santiago Casilla in the top of that seventh inning with two on, one out, and the heart of the order due up. Matt Kemp grounded out, but advanced both runners, and then with Ramirez up and the Dodgers one hit away from a 4-1 lead, Casilla struck him out on five pitches, setting up the bottom of the inning and earning Casilla his 7th win. Yes, that's a lot of "sevens" in this paragraph, and with a win today and another tomorrow (on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball") the Giants can stretch their lead to seven and a half games, which is mighty big this time of year.

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