GIANTS 87-63 ... Magic number: 3.
Los Angeles 77-73 10 GB Turn out the lights; the party's over.
Giants bombarded Colorado, 9-2, sweeping the four-game series.
LA lost at Washington, 4-1.
Giants versus San Diego in the first of three; 7:15 PDT at AT&T Park. Ryan Vogelsong tries once more to regain his winning ways.
LA is at Cincinnati; 7:10 EDT.
The Giants not only swept through the Rockies in four games, they racked up 24 runs in the process, which is a welcome change from their usual run drought at home. Last night Pablo Sandoval continued to put on a show. The ebullient, switch-hitting "Panda" pulled a Mickey Mantle, belting a first-inning homer from the right side and then highlighting the six-run fourth with another bomb from the left. For the second straight night the Giants pounded out 14 hits, including two more (with two RBI) from Marco Scutaro and Buster (.335) Posey's 23rd home run. The beneficiary of all this largesse was Barry Zito, who was gifted with a rare cheap win for his 13th. Heaven knows Barry's earned his share of those with some tough losses even in this, his best year as a Giant. He struck out six in six innings but was eminently hittable, allowing 11 baserunners. Three infield double plays kept him out of harm's way until the sixth, when Bruce Bochy summoned George Kontos from the bullpen with two on, two out, and 97 pitches in the bag. Kontos retired the side without incident, followed by three guys-- Guillermo Mota, Clay Hensley, and Brad Penny-- who may not make the postseason roster, but who did their jobs and then some.
The Giants could clinch as early as tomorrow afternoon, especially the way LA is playing of late. If the Dodgers muster up some resistance to the Reds, however, the Giants could end up being the first team to clinch. Cincy's "magic number" is two. If they win tonight and St Louis loses at Chicago, the NL Central is in the bag for our old friend Dusty Baker... Which reminds us, Johnnie B is already in Chicago-- albeit in a hospital being tested for an irregular heartbeat. Another former Giant, Chris Speier, is provisional manager, though Dusty expects to be back in the dugout tomorrow... Milwaukee passed LA in the second-wild-card race last night, but the Cardinals still lead that race by two and a half games... For the Giants to get home-field advantage in the opening division series, they're gonna need some help. They are four games behind Washington and Cincinnati, and therefore will open at whichever of those two doesn't land the wild-card survivor, unless they catch up over the next twelve games.