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The Chicago Cubs came to AT&T Park this weekend fresh off a sweep of their own after a 12-game losing streak, though the San Francisco Giants had other plans in store. And after taking care of business in the first three games in this set, Monday was no different as the Black and Orange rallied for the 3-2 victory and first series sweep of the season.
Ryan Vogelsong (W 4-2) was steady once more, giving up a pair of RBi singles in the second inning before locking it down there on in. All in all Vogey would finish with seven innings of two-run ball, allowing eight hits and no walks along with three strikeouts. Then it was the offense's turn to back him up. It was his seventh straight start he lasted into the seventh inning while allowing two runs or less.
Brandon Crawford smacked and RBI double in the bottom of the second to get the Giants on the board, but an egregious mental error by Starlin Castro tied the game in the fifth after he forgot how many outs there were with the bases full of Giants. San Francisco would load them again in the seventh, as Buster Posey scored the go ahead run on a double play ball from Joaquin Arais.
Cubs start Jeff Samardzdja got a no decision after his five innings of work, though the loss was tagged to Carlos Marmol, his second L of the season. Jeremy Affeldt earned his first save of the year for his two perfect innings to close the game.
Posey walked four times this afternoon, the first time in his career to do so and the first done by a Giants since Juan Uribe in 2007. For some perspective, Barry Bonds has 16 such games in his career, even had three with five walks. Angel Pagan extended his home hitting streak to 28 after his 2-4 day, while Ryan Theriot went 2-4 with a stolen base as well as some very nice defensive plays as well.
The Giants now head down to San Diego for a three game set with the Padres. Tim Lincecum takes the bump on Tuesday for San Francisco, with first pitch on Tuesday is set for 7:05 p.m. PT with coverage on CSN Bay Area and KNBR 680 AM.
The San Francisco Giants are once again having some concerns over third baseman Pablo Sandoval's conditioning. CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly reports that skipper Bruce Bochy had a candid conversation with the Kung Fu Panda this weekend, which Baggarly noted was 'not a pleasant exchange,' and have now pushed back Pablo's return date until after the Texas Rangers series this upcoming weekend. His new possible return date is June 12.
Giants brass has become 'increasingly dissatisfied' with the way Pablo has been handling his conditioning and overall dedication to the game, which Baggs noted was long before he was questioned by police this weekend in Santa Cruz. Pablo was told he could be demoted back before the 2011 season if he didn't lose some weight, and though it hasn't gotten to that point yet it doesn't sound like Bochy is too happy about him at the moment:
"He's been told we have enough first basemen," said Bochy, asked about whether a position change might be in the works for the rotund Panda. "That said, hopefully we're not forced to make a change. That's in Pablo's hands.
"Being able to make the plays Joaquin has been making, that's so vital. You look at how important the plays were in (Sunday's) ballgame. That's part of when (Sandoval) comes back up here. It's not just the hitting. It's how he's playing third base, which is what he's doing today.
Pablo will play third base for San Jose against the Stockton Ports tonight, and if all goes well will join the Triple-A squad in Fresno tomorrow. He still remains limited in his swings he can take from the right side of the plate, though has been taking righty swings in BP which have gone well so far.
You can't quite put a finger on it, but the San Francisco Giants have meshed together as of late to create a cohesive unit, one that is winning ball games with regularity I might add. Now they'll send 2011 All-Star Ryan Vogelsong to the mound in the series finale against the Cubs this Monday, eyeing the club's first series sweep of their 2012 campaign.
Although they've won or tied their last eight series in a row, San Francisco is yet to sweep any series this season, though Vogelsong (3-2 2.36) may give them the best chance to do this this afternoon. He's earned the Giants a win in his last five starts in a row, though only thee of them were to his name, and hasn't allowed more than three runs in his last 10 straight starts at AT&T Park.
Trying to avoid the sweep will be Jeff Samardzija (5-3, 3.09), who threw seven innings of three run ball in his last start to earn his fifth win of the season. In fact, he hasn't allowed more than three runs since April 29, while the Cubbies are 7-3 in the 10 games Samardzija has started this season. This will be his first career start at AT&T.
We all know Melky Cabrera has been white hot for over a month now, but so has Angel Pagan, who after his 1-3 day on Sunday extended his home hitting streak to 27 straight. That broke a tie with Mike Donlin for the longest in franchise history since 1900 when he hit in 26 straight games in 1905-06 back at the Polo Grounds.
First pitch is set for 12:45 p.m. PT this afternoon with coverage on CSN Bay Area and KNBR 680 AM.
Pitching a gem, Zito came out only after giving up a one-out walk to Darwin Barney in the ninth inning. Sergio Romo retired the last two batters to lock down his second save and San Francisco's sixth win in seven games.
Zito (5-2) allowed just four hits and two walks, striking out five in another good performance by a Giants starting pitcher. The team also won the first two games of the four-game series behind stellar outings by Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain.
Bumgarner took a shutout into the ninth inning Friday in a 4-3 win and Cain went eight-plus innings in Saturday's 2-1 victory.
"It inspires each of us to go out there and do it the next day," Zito said of the strong starts.
Chicago starter Travis Wood, meanwhile, was an unlucky loser.
Wood (0-2) was perfect through three innings and didn't surrender a hit until the fifth, when the Giants scored their first run. The 25-year-old lefty went seven innings, giving up just three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
Both teams had just four hits, but the Cubs saw their road losing streak reach 10 games.
"Zito's had his issues in the past, but that doesn't look like the same guy," said Cubs catcher Koyie Hill. "He's keeping the ball down and was competitive with all his pitches and it makes it tough on us, especially in a ballpark where it's not very hitter-friendly to begin with."
Zito threw 61 of his 96 pitches for strikes for his 150th career win and fourth in his last five starts. He nearly had two shutouts in 11 starts this season after going almost nine years without one.
In his first outing of the season, on April 9 after he had made a start in the minors while trying to overcome a tough spring, Zito threw a four-hit shutout against the Rockies in Denver.
It was his first shutout in almost nine years, since April 19, 2003, when he was pitching for the Oakland Athletics and coming off winning the AL Cy Young Award the previous year.
Bruce Bochy said Zito's outing Sunday was up there with his best of the year so far.
"What a terrific job he did. He had all his pitches going, threw strikes, threw any pitches at any time and stayed in command," said Bochy.
Wood didn't allow a baserunner until hitting former Cub Ryan Theriot in the fourth inning, but Theriot was erased on a double play. So Wood faced the minimum until Angel Pagan laced a one-out double in the fifth.
Romo appeared to injure himself on the last play of the game, a ground ball he fielded in front of the rubber. "He's getting looked at," Bochy said. "We think he's fine."...The Cubs have lost all three games in this series after sweeping the Padres in a three-game set. That came on the heels of their 12- game losing streak.
For more on the Giants head over to McCovey Chronicles.
The San Francisco Giants are starting to click, and it's not just one sector of the team getting it done. From the starting pitchers to the bullpen to the offense and yes even the defense have been doing their part, and they've won five of their last six to show for it. Now they'll turn to Barry Zito to hold down the series win on Sunday, which would be the eighth straight series the Black and Orange have won or tied.
Zito (4-2 3.41) has earned himself a victory in three of his last four outings, including seven innings of two run ball against the Diamondbacks. He'll be up against youngster Travis Wood (0-1 5.94) who's still looking for that first win of the year after lasting five innings against the Padres in his last start, luckily getting a no decision after giving up six runs.
Some good news on the injury front as closer Santiago Casilla could return as soon as today after an MRI simply revealed a bruise on his tibia, nothing more.
First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. PT with coverage on CSN Bay Area and KNBR 680 AM.
For more on the Giants head over to McCovey Chronicles.
Cain (6-2) gave up a run on five hits and was lifted only after issuing his second walk of the game to Starlin Castro leading off the ninth inning.
"He's been so consistent and we needed it today because their guy was throwing the ball well," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera singled and scored in San Francisco's two-run sixth inning. The Giants won the opener of this four-game series 4-3 on Friday after Madison Bumgarner took a shutout into the ninth inning. They have won five of six overall.
Matt Garza (2-4) lost his third start in a row despite allowing just five hits and a walk while striking out six in six innings. He is winless (0-3) in his last five outings.
"He did a nice job. Once again, we just couldn't muster anything against the starting pitcher again," said Chicago manager Dale Sveum. "Same old thing. It's just unbelievable how we have a hard time scoring against starting pitchers."
DeJesus homered for the Cubs, but they had just five hits.
Buster Posey's two-out single in the first inning was the only Giants hit until Brandon Crawford stroked a double with one down in the fifth.
Crawford was stranded on base, but the Giants took a 2-1 lead in the sixth with a rally sparked by back-to-back singles from Theriot and Cabrera to start the inning.
Earlier, DeJesus gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the fourth with his second homer of the season, a two-out blast to center. Tony Campana had led off the inning with a single, but was thrown out by Posey trying to steal second.
The teams wore replica uniforms from 1912, pre-game announcements were made using a megaphone and only organ music was played throughout. Other touches in the turn-back-the-century game included: a vintage look to the scoreboard, which didn't show any video; roving barber shop quartets outside the stadium; ushers, guards and grounds crew wearing period costumes and 5-cent peanuts.
For more on the Giants head over to McCovey Chronicles.
The Chicago Cubs were feeling good heading into AT&T Park on Friday after their series sweep of the Padres, but they came back to reality with Madison Bumgarner and the Black and Orange. Now Matt Cain takes the bump on Saturday looking to keep the Cubbies in check once more.
Cain has won his last four starts despite allowing four earned runs in a pair of those games, and has a nice homestand to look forward to ahead of him. Cain is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts at McCovey Cove this season, and will have his next few starts at home as well.
As for Matt Garza, he was shelled for six runs (five earned) over five innings in his last start after allowing seven earned runs in just three innings his outing before. He also given up five home runs in those two starts as well.
First pitch is set for 4:15 p.m. PT with coverage on FOX and KNBR 680 AM.
San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Madison Bumgarner took a shutout into the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs, and the San Francisco Giants survived a late offensive surge to hold on for a 4-3 win in the opener of a four-game series at AT&T Park.
Bumgarner, who recorded 11 strikeouts and didn't walk a batter, was bidding for his first career complete game and shutout.
A pinch-hitting Bryan LaHair then stroked a one-out double and Casilla appeared to injure himself fielding Darwin Barney's infield chopper. Javier Lopez took over on the mound and Steve Clevenger advanced both runners with a groundout to first. But Lopez earned his first save of the season by retiring pinch-hitter David DeJesus on fly ball to center field.
Ryan Theriot collected three hits, scored twice and knocked in a run for the Giants, who have won four of their last five games.
Paul Maholm (4-4) gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings for Chicago, which has dropped eight straight on the road.
"I didn't bury some pitches. They did a good job going the other way with two strikes," said Maholm.
The Cubs had broken out of a 12-game skid with a three-game home sweep of San Diego earlier in the week.
San Francisco jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Gregor Blanco drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double by Theriot, who moved to third on a Melky Cabrera single before Buster Posey hit a sacrifice fly.
Theriot sparked a two-run third with a leadoff single. Cabrera followed with a triple and scored on a single by Posey.
"We're playing well right now. It's a good vibe in the clubhouse and the dugout," Posey said.
Center fielder Angel Pagan went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak at home to 25 games, the longest such streak in Giants franchise history (since 1918)...Bumgarner, who gave up eight hits, improved to 12-2 in his last 15 starts at AT&T Park...The Cubs have lost each of Maholm's last four outings.
For more on the Giants head over to McCovey Chronicles.
The NL West has been a veritable who's who of injuries this year, with the Giants losing Brian Wilson all season and Pablo Sandoval for about a month, Carlos Quentin's been banged up for San Diego, Chris Young and Miguel Montero have seen lots of pine for Arizona, Troy Tulowitzki just hit the DL out in Colorado, and now for the second time this year Matt Kemp's hamstring has gone bad, landing him on the disabled list in Tinsel Town once more.
Now just five games out of the lead, can the Giants take advantage of the Dodgers recent struggles?
Los Angeles was recently swept by the Brew Crew at home, while the Giants took two of three from the D-backs at AT&T to gain some ground. San Francisco plays 10 of their next 13 at home with the likes of the Cubs and Astros coming to town, though they'll have a 2010 World Series rematch against the Rangers next weekend. L.A. packs their bags for a ten game roadie with a four game stop in Philadelphia on their docket, then return home for another installment of the Freeway Series with the Angels.
Don't sleep on the D-backs either, who are only four games behind San Francisco and nine games behind L.A. They have some easy games on their upcoming schedule as well such as a trip to San Diego and a series with the visiting Athletics at Chase Field.
For more on the Giants, head over to McCovey Chronicles.
The San Francisco Giants ended their 20-game roadie across the country by taking two out of three against the D-backs this week, finally earning themselves a day off on Thursday. Now they must regroup for the visiting Chicago Cubs who despite a long skid have turned it around as of late against the NL West.
After a three-game sweep in San Diego the Cubs continue their West Coast road trip at McCovey Cove, turning to Paul Malholm (4-3 4.62) to get it done in the series opener. Maholm has been up and down this season, going 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA in May starts, though he struggled to get through five innings against Pittsburgh his last outing. He is 0-1 in four career starts at AT&T Park.
The Giants will send out Madison Bumgarner (5-4 3.14), who is 0-3 in his last four starts. Bumgarner was a far cry from his normal self, allowing four earned runs in each of his losses. Still, the Cubs could prove to be the big lefty's panacea as he is 2-1 lifetime against Chicago with a 2.03 ERA, 29 strikeouts and a .230 BAA in four career starts.
First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. PT with coverage on CSN Bay Area and KNBR 680 AM.
The Giants take on the Cubs for a four-game set at AT&T Park this weekend, looking to gain even more ground on the first place Dodgers in the NL West.