Giants Vs. Astros: Matt Cain, G-Men Hang On For Sweep With 3-2 Victory

The Giants return to AT&T Park, looking to maintain their dominance of the Houston Astros. For more on the Giants, check out McCovey Chronicles.

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Giants Vs. Astros, Final Score: Matt Cain, G-Men Clinch Sweep With 3-2 Victory

San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - It wasn't perfect, but Matt Cain and the Giants will take the results.

Cain worked into the seventh inning Sunday in his first start against the Houston Astros since throwing a perfect game last month, and San Francisco squeezed out a 3-2 win to sweep a three-game series.

Buster Posey had three hits and two RBI, including the go-ahead single in the fifth inning.

Coming off a win as the NL's starter in the All-Star Game, Cain (10-3) gave up two runs -- one earned -- on five hits and a walk and struck out six in 6 1/3 innings.

He left with a 3-2 lead and runners on first and third base and Jeremy Affeldt got the last two outs to end the threat. Javier Lopez retired a batter in the ninth and Santiago Casilla set down the last two for his 23rd save.

It was Cain's second win in five starts since he threw the first perfect game in Giants history on June 13 against the Astros. The masterful outing included a career-high 14 strikeouts to tie Sandy Koufax's record for a perfect game.

The Giants improved to 5-7 in their last 12 games while Houston dropped to 1-13 in their last 14.

"We had to pitch well. We weren't quite swinging the bats the way we can," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "Buster had a nice game."

Bud Norris (5-7) lost his sixth straight start, allowing three runs on five hits and six walks in six innings. He also struck out six but remained winless since May 21.

The Giants took their 3-2 lead in the fifth inning after Pablo Sandoval led off with a double and scored on Posey's hit to center field.

Cain struck out the side in the sixth but was pulled after giving up a leadoff walk to Brian Bogusevic and a one-out single to Marwin Gonzalez in the seventh. Affeldt cleaned up, getting Brian Bixler on a pop-up and Justin Maxwell on a fly ball to end the inning.

Earlier, Gregor Blanco and Emmanuel Burriss led off with back-to-back singles to spark a two-run first inning for the Giants. After they moved up on a wild pitch, Blanco scored on Posey's base hit and Burriss later came home when Norris walked Brandon Belt with the bases loaded.

Cain retired the first six Astros in order before Gonzalez doubled to lead off the third. Gonzalez later scored on Cain's low throw to first base for an error on Jordan Schafer's bunt and the Astros tacked on a run in the fourth on Chris Johnson's RBI double to the left-center field wall, tying the game at 2-2.

Game Notes

The Giants are 5-1 in the season series. They are headed on a six-game road trip against the NL East starting Tuesday in Atlanta...The Astros are starting the second half with a 10-game road trip against NL West teams. It continues with four in a row at San Diego starting Monday...The Astros placed shortstop Jed Lowrie on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain after he was spiked by Blanco while covering second base on Saturday. The Astros also put catcher Jason Castro on the 15-day DL Sunday with right knee swelling. They activated the shortstop Gonzalez from the 15-day DL and recalled catcher Carlos Corporan from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

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Giants Vs. Astros: Melky Cabrera On Paternity Leave, Aubrey Huff Returning?

As San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera continues his torrid pace during the 2012 season, he will miss Sunday's contest against the Houston Astros and possibly a few more after heading to Orlando Saturnay night for the birth of his child, according to the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami.

Cabrera's absence leaves the opportunity for skipper Bruce Bochy to activate Aubrey Huff, who has been treading water down in the minor leagues waiting for a chance to return. MLB's paternity leave is for 1-3 days, so Huff's return would likely mean another Giant would be demoted back to the minors, unless he heads back himself.

Here is what Bochy had to say in his pre-game interview:

-Q: Any firmer idea on Huff's schedule? Is he going to Atlanta with you?

-BOCHY: In fact, we're going to talk about him right now. Once I'm done here, we're going to get with Bobby Evans and give Brian a call and see what the next move is with Aubrey, whether he'll go down and play some more (in the minors) or we could activate him today before the game.

I'll get with Bobby as soon as I'm done here. I've talked with Aubrey quite a bit about a half-hour ago just to see where he's at, got five at-bats yesterday, feels pretty good at the plate. Knee feels a lot better.

Could make this move or just give him three or four more games.

-Q: What's the key factor-whether Huff is ready or what the roster looks like and who's going down?

-BOCHY: Probably more so to make sure that Aubrey's ready. It will involve making a move once we get to Atlanta. If we activate Aubrey-because Melky will be there. You do get to replace a player, actually, for paternity reasons. That's a one- to three-day, three-day maximum.

What comes into play is what his role would be. He could get a lot of playing time at first base. If he's going to be used off the bench and occasionally play first, he'd be good to go.

Now, as far as his running, it's really picked up. He said he's gone first to third and feels a lot better with the knee. He had a set back about a week ago... Feels like the knee's real close now.

Aubrey Huff could do well if he came back in a Pat Burrell type role with the Giants, but as an everyday starter he seems to be a square peg in a round hole with the outfield full and Brandon Belt and Buster Posey already splitting duties at first base. He'd really have to show some improvement at the plate to get more regular playing time though.

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Tim Lincecum's Solid Start Doesn't Mean He's Out Of The Woods

When a two-time Cy Young award winner struggles, it's easy to dissect every single pitch with a scalpel, looking to find what cancer may still reside underneath. Enter Tim Lincecum and his outstanding performance against the Astros on Saturday. He didn't get the win but he may have gotten something even better. He got some confidence back.

Still, there are those who didn't see much to be excited about with Timmy's outing, one of which is CSN Bay Area's Ray Ratto, who raised more questions after his start than Timmy offered answers.

Here is Ray Ratto with the commentary:

He struck out 11, a sign that he was about to regain his command, until you realize he threw an awful lot of high strikes past slow bats.

And he did not top 90 miles per hour with any pitch after the third inning, which is not a good sign, but he had better command of his off-speed repertoire, which is a good one.

In short, he won without being the Lincecum of old, which leaves the Giants and their customer base in the same quandary they've been in all year -- asking questions with a multitude of contradictory answers.

He was good, but he wasn't cured. He succeeded and didn't get statistical credit. His lowered his ERA below six, but he didn't cause an outbreak of nostalgia.

Being a pitcher isn't about staying the same, it's about making adjustments and being one step ahead of the hitter. Lincecum used to have that luxury, but is finding out that a slight tweak here and there will make all the difference.

Yes, he wasn't lighting up the radar gun but he did throw a lot of fastballs on Saturday, using it as his setup pitch instead of his slider or changeup. That's making an adjustment.

True, the Astros aren't a great hitting team, but they still are professional baseball players, and Timmy still fanned a season-high 11 of them. His days of embarrassing his competition may be over, but he's far from being finished as a pitcher.

Ratto suggests that you get used to it though, noting that Lincecum's new 'paradigm' may very well be one of worry and questioning over his stuff instead of trust and confidence with him on the mound:

The new Lincecum paradigm may simply be one without style points. Every out should be considered a victory, and every non-out a cause for worry. If your stomach can handle it, fine. If not, white-knuckle your way through that Costco vat of antacids every time he pitches.

Timmy has saved his spot in the rotation, but he'll likely have to have a few more solid starts under his belt before faith is restored completely.

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Giants Vs. Astros: Matt Cain Eyes Series Sweep In Sunday Matinee

(Sports Network) - Matt Cain hopes to get back into the win and build off a solid showing in the All-Star Game when he leads the San Francisco Giants into the finale of a three-game series versus the Houston Astros at AT&T Park.

Cain, of course, made history in a 10-0 win over Houston on June 13, when he pitched the first perfect game in the Giants' 130-year history. He posted the 22nd perfect game in the majors by striking out 14 batters, matching Sandy Koufax's total against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 9, 1965 for the most in a perfect game. Cain needed 125 pitches, the most ever thrown in a perfect game.

He is 2-3 with a 3.83 ERA in eight career games (7 starts) against the Astros.

The right-hander allowed one hit and struck out one over two scoreless innings in the National League's 8-0 win over the American League earlier this week. He earned the win in that one, becoming the first Giant to win an All-Star Game since Vida Blue in 1981.

Cain, however, is 0-1 with a 3.98 earned run average in his last three starts since a personal eight-game winning streak. San Francisco had won Cain's last nine starts, but has dropped each of his past three. Cain did not factor in the outcome of a 6-5 loss at Washington on July 5 and was reached for three runs in 6 2/3 innings. He is 9-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 17 starts.

San Francisco needed 12 innings to dispose of the Astros in Saturday's 3-2 victory, as Hector Sanchez drove in Pablo Sandoval for the game-winning run on a single to right field. Sanchez had a big impact on the game, ending 4-for-6 with two RBI.

Melky Cabrera had two hits and drove in a run, while Angel Pagan and Sandoval each had two hits and a run scored for the Giants, who took over the top spot in the NL West when the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the San Diego Padres. The Giants now have a one-half game lead in the division and won for the third time in five tries.

Giants struggling starter Tim Lincecum pitched well despite not recording a decision, and struck out 11 over eight scoreless innings. Jeremy Affeldt got the win thanks to Sanchez's game-winning RBI single.

"He's had a tough go but it's all about being resilient and bouncing back," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum. "He did tonight and hopefully he'll carry this into the next game."

San Francisco will visit Atlanta and Philadelphia after wrapping up its quick residency versus Houston.

The Astros are flailing and look to salvage the finale of this set. They have lost three straight and 12 of 13 games, and are mired in a 12-game road skid.

Justin Maxwell had an RBI and a run scored, while Brett Myers fell to 0-4 on the season after surrendering the game-winning hit. Lucas Harrell started for Houston and tossed five innings of one-run ball.

"We had a chance to win," Maxwell said on the team's website. "It just shows a lot about this team, that we never give up."

Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie sustained an ankle and knee injury in the third inning and will most likely miss Sunday's game. He was using crutches after the game.

"My knee and ankle both hurt," Lowrie said on Houston's site. "I can't really tell you which is worse."

The Astros haven't won on the road since June 14 at San Francisco and are 0-2 on a 10-game trek against the Giants, Padres and Diamondbacks.

Bud Norris gets the nod for the Astros and hopes to end a lengthy losing streak this afternoon. Norris, who hasn't won since May 21 versus the Cubs, has lost five straight starts and Houston is winless the last six times he has taken the hill.

In a 2-0 setback at Pittsburgh on July 5, Norris pitched well and allowed both runs and five hits in seven innings of work. He walked three and fell to 5-6 in 15 starts to go along with a 4.71 ERA.

Norris, a right-hander, won four straight starts from May 5 - May 21 and lost to the Giants on June 12 in a 6-3 setback. He lasted 3 1/3 innings and was reached for three runs and three hits. Norris is 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA in two career starts against San Francisco.

The Giants won two of three over the Astros at home in mid-June and have claimed 16 of the last 23 meetings overall.

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Giants Vs. Astros, Final Score: Lincecum Shines As G-Men Hang On For 3-2 Win In Extras

San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Hector Sanchez had a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 12th, Tim Lincecum tossed eight scoreless innings, and the Giants edged the Astros, 3-2, on Saturday at AT&T Park.

Pablo Sandoval and Angel Pagan began the 12th with consecutive singles off of Brett Myers (0-4) before Sanchez ripped a base hit past second baseman Jose Altuve, allowing Sandoval to score the deciding run.

Jeremy Affeldt (1-1) recorded the final out in the top of the 12th to earn the win for the Giants, who moved past the Dodgers and into first place in the National League West with the victory.

They secured their first series win since June 25-27, which came against the Dodgers, and will look for the sweep of this three-game set on Sunday.

Sanchez, whose ninth-inning error allowed the Astros to tie the game, also had an RBI double in the sixth.

His single in the 12th short-hopped Altuve and escaped into the outfield after the second baseman attempted to backhand the sharply hit ball.

Lincecum, who struggled to a 3-10 record before the All-Star break, scattered five hits and notched a season-high 11 strikeouts, but was robbed of the win due to an improbable Houston rally in the ninth.

Santiago Casilla entered the ninth with a 2-0 lead, searching for his 23rd save of the year. Instead he issued a walk to Scott Moore, who scored on Justin Maxwell's two-out double to deep right-center field.

The closer then struck out Chris Snyder with a curveball, but the pitch was wild. The ball escaped up the third base line where Sanchez pounced on it and threw wide to first. Snyder was safe and Maxwell took advantage, scoring the tying run from second base on the play.

"Lincecum did a good job for those first eight innings," admitted Maxwell. "We tacked two on the board in the ninth and we had a chance to win but it just shows a lot about this team and we never give up, regardless."

Although he didn't earn the win, Lincecum turned in arguably his finest performance of the season. In addition to the season-high 11 K's, he also tied a season-high in innings pitched, and scored a run on All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera's fifth-inning single.

Additionally, it was just the second time this year that the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner held his opponent scoreless. The other being a seven- inning start against the Dodgers on June 27.

Still, the 28-year-old righty doesn't have a victory to show for the effort. He is now 1-8 in his last 13 starts and the Giants are 5-14 this season when he takes the mound.

"He's had a tough go but it's all about being resilient and bouncing back," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He did tonight and hopefully he'll carry this into the next game."

Rookie Lucas Harrell gave up just one run on five hits with four walks over a five-inning start for the Astros, who lost infielder Jed Lowrie in the third inning due to an sprained right ankle.

Lowrie appeared to be spiked by a sliding Gregor Blanco on a force attempt at second base and had to be assisted off the field.

"Right now it just feels like my whole leg, it's just really sore," said Lowrie about the injury. "He slid into me and my foot got caught underneath his and I twisted it."

Houston fell for the 12th times in its last 13 games.

Game Notes

Lincecum is 5-0 in nine career starts versus the Astros...Moore went 0-for-4. He had hit safely in each of his first nine games with Houston -- a franchise record...Maxwell was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's contest...Lowrie was acquired from Boston in the offseason. He has appeared in 80 games for the Astros and is batting .253 with 14 homers, 36 RBI and 38 runs scored.

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Giants Vs. Astros: Tim Lincecum Takes The Mound In All Important Start

(Sports Network) - Tim Lincecum has struggled mightily this season.

He hasn't displayed any signs of his award-winning ways and is aware of that.

"You never want to say, 'Hey, I've hit rock bottom' or anything like that," Lincecum told the Giants' website. "When things are going as bad as they are right now, you kind of got to go out there feeling like you've got nothing left to lose.

"It's been terrible. It's a terrible feeling, feeling like you've let your team down. That's the hardest thing."

Lincecum will get back to work tonight for San Francisco in the second test of a three-game series versus the Houston Astros at AT&T Park. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is a paltry 1-8 with a 6.69 earned run average in his last 13 starts -- the Giants are 2-11 in that time. He previously toed the rubber in a 13-2 setback at Pittsburgh on July 8 and lasted 3 1/3 innings for a second consecutive start, allowing six runs and seven hits to fall to 3-10 with a 6.42 ERA in 18 appearances.

"I have to erase this, but obviously remember it and use it to know what I don't want to go through again," Lincecum added. "When you're the weaker link, you kind of look at that and it wears on you. You try your hardest to work out of it, and that's what I've got to do."

The right-hander, who is 2-4 in eight home starts, could turn this slump around if his career record against Houston holds up. In eight career starts against the Astros, Lincecum is 5-0 with a sparkling 1.14 ERA.

Madison Bumgarner didn't have a problem with the Astros in Friday's 5-1 win and held the visitors to a run and two hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked two, improving to 11-5 on the season and 15-2 in his last 18 starts at AT&T Park.

"It's pretty incredible what he does and the poise he has out there," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "For most of the pitching staff and the players, you're always gonna be a little bit more comfortable here and you usually do pitch better at home."

Buster Posey hit a two-run homer for the Giants, who ended a two-game slide and won for just the third time in 10 tries. The Giants remained only one-half game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead. All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera had a hit in four at-bats in the win.

Posey's homer gave San Francisco nine in the past 22 games. Only 15 of the Giants' 52 home runs have come by the bay.

Houston kicked off a 10-game road trip on the wrong foot last night and lost for the 11th time in 12 tries.

Chris Snyder's solo home run in the seventh inning was all the offense the Astros could muster, while Wandy Rodriguez took the mound and allowed four runs in six innings to absorb the loss.

"They squeezed out some hits and squeezed out the early runs," said Snyder.

Rodriguez has gone at least five innings in 48 consecutive starts, marking the longest active streak in the National League. Infielder Scott Moore did not play Friday and has hit safely in each of his first nine games with the club -- a franchise record. Jeff Kemp had an eight-game run back in 2009. Moore is batting .306 with three home runs during the streak.

Lucas Harrell draws the start for the 'Stros tonight after plenty of rest and is 7-6 with a 4.56 earned run average in 17 appearances. He is 1-0 in his past two starts since losing back-to-back outings, and did not figure into the decision of an 8-7 loss at Pittsburgh on July 3. Harrell lasted five innings and gave up five runs and nine hits -- one start after tossing a six-hit shutout against San Diego on June 27.

Harrell, a right-hander, is only 2-5 in 10 road starts this season and will face San Francisco for the first time.

The Giants won two of three over the Astros at home in mid-June and have claimed 15 of the last 22 meetings overall.

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Giants Vs. Astros: Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner Pave The Way For 5-1 Win

San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Madison Bumgarner went seven innings, Buster Posey hit a two-run homer and the Giants downed the Astros, 5-1, in the opener of a three-game series.

Bumgarner (11-5) allowed just two hits -- including a seventh-inning homer to Chris Snyder -- while striking out five and walking two. He improved to 7-1 at AT&T Park on the season.

"It's pretty incredible what he does and the poise he has out there," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "For most of the pitching staff and the players, you're always gonna be a little bit more comfortable here and you usually do pitch better at home."

Posey's blast came in the first inning while Joaquin Arias and Justin Christian both added an RBI in the second for the Giants, who had lost seven of nine prior to the All-Star break.

Wandy Rodriguez (7-7) took the loss for the Astros, giving up four runs on seven hits over six innings.

Angel Pagan, who capped the scoring with a sac fly on the heels of Pablo Sandoval's triple in the eighth, led off the second inning with a base hit. Brandon Belt followed with a single before Arias delivered an RBI grounder to left field. Christian's groundout two batters later made it 4-0.

"They squeezed out some hits and squeezed out the early runs," said Snyder.

Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla combined for two scoreless innings of relief in the win.

Game Notes

Bumgarner is 15-2 over his last 18 starts at AT&T Park...He has gone at least six innings in all but two starts this season...Rodriguez has gone at least five innings in 48 consecutive starts, marking the longest active streak in the National League.

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MLB Standings: Giants Look To Leap Frog Dodgers In NL West

With the start of the second half of the MLB season, fans of the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodges must love to see where each team rests in the standings as of now, sitting in first and second respectfully with only half a game separating the two. Now the heat is on for both squads as they try to lock up a playoff berth down the home stretch.

The Black and Orange take on the struggling Houston Astros at home to start the second-half, while the Dodgers get the slumping Padres at Dodger Stadium. Both teams will have elongated road trips as well with San Francisco heading to Atlanta after their current set, than on to Philadelphia to face the Phillies before returning to AT&T for three games with the Padres. Los Angeles will head to New York to face the Mets, than on to St. Louis before they meet back up with the Giants at the end of the month at AT&T Park.

Still, Arizona is just four games out of the lead, and can not be forgotten in this apparent three-team race with Colorado and San Diego well out of contention already. It's going to be a great race to the finish this year.


NL West Standings

W L PCT GB STRK
Los Angeles 47 40 .540 0 Won 2
San Francisco 46 40 .534 0.5 Lost 2
Arizona 42 43 .494 4 Won 3
San Diego 34 53 .390 13 Lost 3
Colorado 33 52 .388 13 Lost 1

(updated 7.13.2012 at 9:44 AM PDT)

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Giants Vs. Astros: Madison Bumgarner Looks To Start Second Half Right

The Giants return to AT&T Park, looking to maintain their dominance of the Houston Astros. For more on the Giants, check out McCovey Chronicles.

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