GIANTS 86-63 ... Magic number: 5.
Los Angeles 77-72 9 GB Kemp's homer keeps them alive.
Giants defeated Colorado, 7-1, as Matt Cain won his 15th game.
LA split a doubleheader with the Nationals at Washington, rallying to win the nightcap after losing the opener.
Giants finish up with Colorado, a 12:45 PM (PDT) daytime start at the 'Bell. Barry Zito will try for his 13th win and the Giants will try for a rare four-game series sweep.
LA and Washington conclude their series at Nationals Park tonight; 7:05 EDT.
Last Night's Game
This one went off like clockwork, with great starting pitching, 14 hits, a three-run first inning, and a general air of inevitability about the whole thing. The Giants can smell that pennant now, there's a better-than-average chance they'll clinch it this coming weekend, and the 41,292 in attendance last night were thus treated to a clinic on winning baseball games. There's Matt Cain, striking out eight in eight relatively mild, 116-pitch innings, allowing four singles and giving his hard-working bullpen mates a night off. There's Pablo Sandoval, taken for granted in the middle of the lineup even as his average dropped 20 points, belting a three-run homer in the first to put the Giants up early and going 3-for-5 on the night. There's Gregor Blanco, the left fielder du jour, with a 3-for-4 in the seven spot, scoring no runs but driving in two. There's error-free defense, a key double play, and three stolen bases with nobody caught (including Sandoval's first theft of the season). Now, this being baseball, we might well see a truly ugly affair today with nothing going right, even if the Giants manage to win, but the occasional glimpse of how good this team can be, such as we saw last night, reminds us of 2010. And, as the song says, you know that can't be bad.
The "Matt Cain for Cy Young Award" campaign faces one major obstacle, and his name is R.A. Dickey. It would not surprise us to see Dickey, passed over for the All-Star Game start in the wake of Matt's perfecto, edge him out for the award, especially if Dickey wins 20 (he currently has 18). Dickey is just ever so slightly ahead of Matt in all the major statistical categories-- wins, ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched, WHIP-- and he plays in New York, whose Mets have had a majorly disappointing season (again). Frankly, we expect him to get it, especially since Clayton Kershaw now is injured... For you Stephen Strasburg fans, take it up with Nationals management. He's the greatest young pitcher in the game, but until he completes a full season, his time has not yet come... Tim Lincecum is second in the league in walks allowed, ninth in strikeouts.... Hunter Pence, sixth in the league in RBI, had 59 in 101 games with Philadelphia and has 36 in 46 with the Giants, though his average has dropped 41 points since the trade... Angel Pagan is eighth in runs scored with 87, leads with 14 triples, and we're still hoping he can hit two more homers. Only four other players are in double digits for doubles, triples, and homers... Since joining the Giants, Marco Scutaro is hitting .353 in 50 games.