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Giants blast Brewers for sixth straight victory

Pence tallies four hits; Sandoval, Susac drive in three for Bumgarner

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The calendar is about to turn to September, but it's beginning to feel a lot like April and May again along the shores of McCovey Cove.

The Giants completed a three-game sweep of the Brewers with a 15-5 victory at AT&T Park on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Giants maintained a one-game lead for home-field advantage as the National League's first Wild Card and kept pace with the Dodgers, whom they trail by 2 1/2 games in the NL West.

After a horrid home record in June and July helped the Giants tumble from atop the Major League standings, they have returned to their usual winning ways at home, where they've won 10 of their last 13 games. The 15 runs were a season high, they totaled 10 extra-base hits for the first time in a game at AT&T Park, and the win was their sixth consecutive, which tied their longest streak of the season. The throttling provided quite the exclamation point at the end of the Giants' dominant "We're Baaack" 6-1 homestand, which was a true all-around team effort.

The offense broke out for 44 runs. The Giants' 46 hits in the Milwaukee series were the second-most they've recorded in a three-game set at AT&T Park. The starting pitching was nearly flawless, as the starters combined to allow just six earned runs in 50 2/3 innings on the homestand. Just as importantly, the defense was airtight, highlighted by outstanding play from Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval.

"I was just waiting for this final click when the pitching and the hitting matches up," said Andrew Susac, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs on Sunday. "It's something special what we just put up on the board against a first-place team over there.

"They're no slouches. We faced three quality arms and hit them pretty good."

Sunday's victim was Kyle Lohse, who was chased from the game after surrendering seven earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

So, in a chicken-or-egg type quandary, has the Giants' offense fed off the pitching, or vice versa?

"It's just that constant merry-go-around," Susac said. "You get back in the dugout quick with good pitching; the hitters are confident and not spending a lot of energy standing out there on defense. It just shows you what confidence can do throughout our lineup.

"You have off days, and you have really good days like today. Right now there is a lot of confidence in this locker room."

Despite the injuries, despite the starting pitching problems, and despite the stagnant lineup that all took turns plaguing the Giants during the team's summer-long slide from grace to second place, manager Bruce Bochy's optimistic outlook endured.

"You got to stay optimistic; there's no point in going the other way," Bochy said Sunday. "There were a lot of games left and we're a good club. You've got to think you're going to come out of it."

The emergence of second baseman Joe Panik had a lot to do with the team's emphatic return to October contender status. The rookie chipped in two RBIs on Sunday and finished August with a .379 average, one home run and 10 RBIs.

His breakout month has allowed the Giants to "keep the line moving," as Bochy likes to say. With Panik in the two-hole and Hunter Pence (who went 4-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games Sunday) batting fifth, the offensive attack has deepened with Michael Morse batting sixth and a more-confident Gregor Blanco batting seventh. A viable option like Susac (whose average jumped to .267 on Sunday) off the bench to keep Buster Posey fresh doesn't hurt, either. Nor does the excellent pitching.

"All of them, right on. They did such a tremendous job," Bochy said of the staff's last seven starts. "We go as our pitching goes, and our guys did a really good job of keeping guys off base, hitting their spots and following the gameplans."

Madison Bumgarner began the six-game win streak when he flirted with perfection in his last start. A first-inning run nixed chances at a repeat performance Sunday, but he settled in and gave up just the one run on five hits while striking out seven in six innings en route to earning the win.

On the biggest offensive outburst of the season, Sandoval stood out most. He finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. He batted twice in the seventh a double shy of the cycle, but was walked and flied out. That was just about the only thing the Giants didn't accomplish on this homestand.

"We stand a really good chance, still being in the division race and the Wild Card, too. I like where we're at," Bumgarner said. "We've turned it on, and it's a good time of year to turn it on. Everybody's starting to come together.

"It's what we have to do to be a winning team. We've got a lot of guys here who know how to win and have done it before, and I feel like we're starting to play our best baseball of the year."

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Giants add five players for expanded roster

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SAN FRANCISCO -- After the Giants' 15-5 victory against the Brewers on Sunday, San Francisco took advantage of the opportunity to expand its roster with the arrival of September by calling up five players.

Lefty Mike Kickham and outfielder Juan Perez were recalled from Triple-A Fresno, and Grizzlies teammates infielder Chris Dominguez and catcher Guillermo Quiroz had their contracts purchased by the Giants.

To make room on the 40-man, Ehire Adrianza and Hector Sanchez were transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Hunter Strickland, who has posted a 2.02 ERA in 38 appearances with Double-A Richmond, was also called up.

In 27 starts with Fresno this season, Kickham is 8-8 with a 4.43 ERA. Perez hit .175 with one home run and two RBIs in 63 at-bats earlier this season with the Giants. Dominguez hit .274 with 21 home runs and 85 RBIs in 131 games with the Grizzlies, while Quiroz hit .267 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 69 games at Triple-A.

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Giants ready for bonus action in Colorado

Morales, Hudson get rematch after conclusion of suspended game

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Including the resumption of a May 22 suspended game, the Giants and Rockies potentially have 12 1/2 innings of baseball to play on Labor Day. That means two chances for the Giants to cement their lead in the National League Wild Card race with the first game being tied at 2 in the bottom of the sixth.

While it's currently unclear who will take the mound for the makeup game on both sides, Monday's full-length matchup will be a rehashing of last Wednesday's pitching duel.

In AT&T Park against the Rockies his last time out, right-hander Tim Hudson had his longest start since June 29.

Hudson limited the Rockies to four hits and one earned run in the form of a homer from outfielder Corey Dickerson. Hudson was in line for the win before right-hander Santiago Casilla blew his fourth save of the season. Hudson did log the 2,000th strikeout of his career in the game, though, finishing with eight overall.

In seven career starts at Coors Field, Hudson is 0-2 with a 7.05 ERA. If he manages to ditch the trend and register his third win in his last 14 starts, it will mark his 14th season with double-digit victories in his 16-year career.

Although he was clearly outshined by Hudson last Wednesday, Rockies left-hander Franklin Morales was quietly impressive in his own right.

In six innings, he served up seven hits but that only translated to one run for the Giants, and he left with the game tied. Morales also totaled six strikeouts in the outing, marking only the fourth time he's reached that mark in 19 starts this season.

Bouncing between the bullpen and the rotation this season, Morales has made five appearances against the Giants (three starts). He's struck out 23 over 23 innings, allowing nine runs and 23 hits including four homers.

Giants: Romo, Casilla to split closer role
It takes two to tango and it apparently it will take two to close out games for the Giants for the remainder of the 2014 season.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced Sunday that he's going to a closer by committee with right-hander Sergio Romo joining Santiago Casilla for the ninth-inning duty.

Casilla has been battling an illness lately but he clearly hasn't been himself for a while now. Entering Sunday, he had been scored upon in five of his 10 August apperances.

Meanwhile, Romo, who was demoted from the closer position in late June, hasn't surrendered a run in his last 14 appearances.

"I'll use them both," Bochy said Sunday. "We're going to ham and egg it with those two."

Rockies: Expanded rosters in play for Monday's suspended game
Before the Giants and Rockies begin their regularly scheduled game Monday, the teams will have to some unfinished business to attend to.

The teams will begin the series by finishing a suspended game from May 22 that rain put an end to early with the score tied at 2 in the bottom of the sixth. Of course, a lot has changed since then.

Michael Cuddyer was on first when the game was suspended but he's currently on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury. Likewise, catcher Wilin Rosario and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki are both on the shelf with injuries, meaning the Rockies will have to make three substitutions when play resumes.

The good news is that the Rockies will be allowed to use their expanded 40-man roster for both games so manager Walt Weiss doesn't have to drain his bench.

Even with the extra reinforcements, Weiss has still not decided who will start the game on the mound for the Rockies.

Worth noting

• This is the last series between the Giants and Rockies this season. Colorado has been outscored 65 to 64 but has the series edge, 8-7.

• Giants outfielder Hunter Pence extended his hit streak to 13 games Sunday, finishing 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, a single, two RBIs and three runs.

• Rockies right-hander Tommy Kahnle (shoulder) is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list either Monday or Tuesday following Saturday's successful live batting-practice session.


Lincecum rusty in two-inning relief outing

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Perhaps the only sour note on an otherwise brilliant Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park for the Giants was the performance of Tim Lincecum.

The righty made his first appearance since his move to the bullpen in the eighth inning of the Giants' 15-5 victory against the Brewers. He gave up a solo home run to Ryan Braun in the eighth and was charged with two more runs in the ninth. He also hit Martin Maldonado with a pitch.

His final stat line? Two innings, three runs (two earned) on three hits. The rust was to be expected, manager Bruce Bochy said.

"It'd been awhile since he was out there, but he got some work in," Bochy said. "I thought his delivery was a little more balanced and aligned. Now, if we need him in a little more stressful situation, I think he will be a little more comfortable."


Romo, Casilla to share Giants' closer duties

Romo, Casilla to share Giants' closer duties play video for Romo, Casilla to share Giants' closer duties

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Santiago Casilla doing a good job of creating late-game drama and Sergio Romo's unfair slider back to being unfair, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is opting to platoon the two in the closer role.

"I'll use them both," Bochy said Sunday. "We're going to ham and egg it with those two."

Casilla, who's been bothered by an illness lately, allowed a run and saw the Brewers bring the go-ahead run to the plate Saturday night before shutting the door on a 3-1 victory. He's been scored on in five of his 10 August appearances. He has a 4.66 ERA to go along with five saves in August.

Romo lost his closer's role in late June, but he hasn't surrendered a run since July 22, a span of 14 consecutive appearances. In 12 1/3 innings during that time, he's struck out 17 and allowed just six hits and three walks. The plan was for him to stay in the game after striking out the only batter he faced in the eighth Saturday night, but the pitcher's spot came up to bat in the bottom of the eighth.

So, the Giants are now back a two-person committee.

"He's using his fastball effectively, same with his slider and changeup and he's really hitting his spots well now," Bochy said of Romo on Sunday. "He looks very determined to get back on track, which he's done."

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Peavy flirts with no-hitter in besting Brewers

Righty allows single with one out in eighth; Crawford delivers gems

Peavy flirts with no-hitter in besting Brewers play video for Peavy flirts with no-hitter in besting Brewers

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants acquired Jake Peavy in late July, the move didn't exactly generate a lot of excitement in the Bay Area. The team with holes at second base and a lack of outfield depth appeared to be bringing in a getting-up-there-in-age pitcher with a history of injuries and awful 2014 stats.

The thing with numbers, though, is that they can be deceiving.

Manager Bruce Bochy and the organization's brass saw a feisty competitor still capable of success who'd been hamstrung by bad luck on a last-place team. The once underwhelming trade looks shrewder after each time Peavy takes the mound for the Giants. Never has it looked better than it did Saturday night.

Peavy was five outs away from a no-hitter and the Giants won their fifth consecutive game, 3-1, against the Brewers. The victory, coupled with the Padres beating the Dodgers, pulled the Giants within 2 1/2 games of the National League West-leading Dodgers (their slimmest deficit since Aug. 6) and secured the Giants' first series victory against a team with a winning record since taking three of four from the Cardinals from May 29-June 1.

"He was throwing the ball well. His record was not indicative of how well he was throwing the ball, but the stuff was there," Bochy said when asked what attracted the Giants to Peavy. "I know personally how competitive this guy is and he's just so competitive, so that was a no-brainer for us."

So it's appeared. After recording the win after striking out eight and allowing one hit in 7 2/3 innings, Peavy improved to 3-4 with a 2.66 ERA with the Giants, a night-and-day difference from the 4.72 ERA he posted with the Red Sox.

"I've found a groove over here with Rags [pitching coach Dave Righetti], [bullpen catcher] Billy Hayes and Gardy [bullpen coach Mark Gardner]," said Peavy when asked what's led to his improvements. "These guys saw me when I was young and have been able to throw some of those remarks and coaching tips back at me.

"We've found a rhythm here."

Brandon Crawford gets a major assist for keeping everything in sync Saturday night with a pair of web gems.

With one out in the top of the seventh and Aramis Ramirez on first, Scooter Gennett drilled a grounder to the right of Peavy. Crawford, fully extended, snagged the ball and from his knees flipped it with his glove to Joe Panik, who completed the inning-ending double play.

"I was just happy I got there," said Crawford, whose troublesome right shoulder was wrapped. "I knew if I got there we'd have a play at second, even if we don't turn the double play. The more important thing at that time was just keeping the ball in the infield."

Crawford's first highlight-reel-worthy play came in the fifth inning, when he ranged to his right and fired a dart across the infield in time to retire Ramirez. Unbeknownst to him at the time, he had just preserved a no-hit bid.

Peavy lost his no-hitter with one out in the top of the eighth when Mark Reynolds flared a single to right.

"I knew he didn't hit the ball hard, but it's so difficult to get all the balls hit at somebody," said Peavy, who's good friends with Reynolds.

Peavy also issued a trio of walks and grazed Ramirez's arm with a pitch, so as tremendous as his outing was, it wasn't quite as dominant as Madison Bumgarner's bid for a perfect game Tuesday. But unlike Bumgarner, he didn't have to wait too long for run support to arrive.

Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence led off the fourth with back-to-back singles, and they each scored when Michael Morse doubled to deep right-center. There may have been an issue if the basepaths were 10 feet longer, though, since Pence nearly caught up to Sandoval between third and home. A Crawford single scored Morse and pushed the lead to 3-0. Aside from a run the Brewers scratched across against Santiago Casilla in the ninth, everything clicked again for the Giants.

"It feels like playoff baseball again right now," Crawford said. "We're playing against a good team and our pitchers are pitching their butts off."

The hitters have been hitting and the fielders fielding, too.

A night after blasting a season-high 13 runs, the suddenly deep lineup flourished thanks to contributions throughout. The starting rotation recorded its sixth consecutive impressive start. Once-embattled reliever Sergio Romo's unfair slider is unfair again.

"We seem to be running out a pretty consistent lineup and we understand that in each one of these games, our lives are on the line," Peavy said. "We're starting to find an identity as a team. It's exciting to be here; it was exciting to come to work today.

"I knew what San Francisco fans were about, but tonight I think I really got a taste of that to feed off the energy of the crowd. If you watch the way all nine guys on the field responded, we owe the fans that as bad as we played when I first got over here."

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Gomez's catch restored after video review

Brewers win challenge in sixth, but ninth-inning out call on Braun confirmed

Gomez's catch restored after video review play video for Gomez's catch restored after video review

SAN FRANCISCO -- Seeking a small success while they were still looking for a hit against Giants starter Jake Peavy, the Brewers found one via replay.

The umpires at AT&T Park initially ruled Giants slugger Michael Morse safe when Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez caught a one-out fly ball in the sixth inning and then dropped it. Roenicke challenged that call, and after a brief review, the ruling was overturned, with Major League Baseball's Replay Command Center ruling that Gomez dropped the baseball while he was transferring it from his glove.

The matter is covered in Rule 2.00, which reads in part that, "If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught."

At the start of this season, umpires and replay officials had been instructed to follow a more strict interpretation of the transfer rule, requiring fielders to cleanly remove balls from their gloves before an out was recorded. But the Playing Rules Committee announced in late April a change, saying outs should be called even if the ball slips out of a fielder's throwing hand while removing it from his glove.

"We've had an outcry," Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, said on MLB Network at the time. "Clubs and players have been upset because of the calls umpires have made. ... We listened to the clubs. We listened to the players. We're just going to change the interpretation of the same rule."

Roenicke challenged another call in the ninth inning and lost. With Ryan Braun aboard, Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez hit a grounder to Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who threw wide of second. Umpire Quinn Wolcott ruled Panik held the bag but Roenicke asked for a second look. The call was confirmed after a 19-second review.

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Peavy becomes fifth active pitcher with 2,000 K's

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Jake Peavy recorded his 2,000th career strikeout in the second inning of the Giants' 3-1 victory over the Brewers on Saturday night.

With his strikeout of Aramis Ramirez, the 33-year-old became the fifth active Major League pitcher to amass 2,000-plus strikeouts. The others: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon and clubhouse neighbor Tim Hudson, who beat Peavy to the feat by three days, as he reached the plateau Wednesday.

"It's special to join the company," Peavy said. "I watched Timmy Hudson do that and I didn't even know I was anywhere close to those numbers until some people told me when he did it.

"It'll be special one day when I look back on those numbers, but it's hard to get caught up in them right now."

Peavy struck out six of the first nine batters he faced Saturday and finished with eight strikeouts, one below his season high of nine.


Panik's production giving lift to Giants' offense

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Good thing the Giants didn't trade for a second baseman at the Trade Deadline.

The cliche that "hindsight is 20/20" rings true, but, odds are, whomever they would've acquired wouldn't have produced the way Joe Panik has in the month of August. The rookie entered Saturday hitting .391 (the Majors' third-best mark for the month) with a home run and eight RBIs this month, which has helped reinvigorate what had been an ailing offense and afforded manager Bruce Bochy more flexibility with his lineup.

After the second four-hit game of his career Friday, Panik said studying Buster Posey while in the Minors helped him develop his approach at the plate, which Bochy said Saturday afternoon is reminiscent of Posey's.

"Not a lot of movement, it's not a complicated swing," Bochy said. "They're quick to the ball, short to the ball, and they use the whole field.

"Since he got comfortable up here, he's been the player that he was down in Triple-A. Sometimes it takes players longer than others, but with Joe it just took a handful of days before you saw he belonged here."

Ask Bochy about Panik and another name comes to mind, too: Marco Scutaro.

"Marco was a contact guy, line-drive hitter, base-hit guy, and I look at Panik as the same type of hitter," Bochy said. "Both can handle the bat, they're disciplined at the plate, and that allows you to do a couple things that you may not do with a Hunter Pence."

Panik in the two-hole gives the bottom half of the lineup more speed with Pence batting fifth, and it also creates more lefty-righty variation before the pitcher's spot. It makes the Giants more dynamic, too, since Bochy can opt to put on bunts or hit-and-run plays with Panik, which he wouldn't have with Pence. If Panik's production continues, so will his stay in the two-hole.

"It seems like, for the last three or four weeks, every time he comes up to bat he feels he's going to get a hit," Posey said. "He's got a really nice, simple approach and has a knack for getting the barrel on the ball. If you're going to do that, you're going to have lots of success."


Giants romp past Brewers into Wild Card lead

Posey tallies five hits; Panik collects four behind Vogelsong

Giants romp past Brewers into Wild Card lead play video for Giants romp past Brewers into Wild Card lead

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants regained first place Friday night ... in the National League's Wild Card race.

Overcompensating for their shabby treatment of Ryan Vogelsong, who had been backed by the lowest run support among all Major League starters in home games, the Giants whipped the Milwaukee Brewers, 13-2, and nudged past St. Louis to climb atop the Wild Card standings. San Francisco leads the Cardinals by a half-game and trails first-place Los Angeles in the NL West by 3 1/2 games.

Buster Posey went 5-for-5, equaling a personal best. Rookie Joe Panik rapped four hits, matching the most prolific output of his 46-game big league career, as the Giants recorded their largest victory margin of the year.

With a full month remaining in the Giants' season, manager Bruce Bochy predictably downplayed the club's Wild Card ascent.

"You'll hear me say this so many times: The only thing we can do is try to win every game and we'll see where we are at the end," Bochy said. "Because this thing's going to go back and forth. It's going to be tight in [the Wild Card] and in the division races, too. We can't get caught up in that as much as we have to focus on what we need to do out there."

The Giants maintained their focus nicely against NL Central-leading Milwaukee, extending their winning streak to four -- their longest since they captured five in a row June 4-8.

Maybe, just maybe, the Giants are on the brink of recapturing the "mojo," as Bochy has called it, that they possessed when they went on their 31-11 binge from April 23-June 8. After all, they exorcised the demons that haunted them when Vogelsong took the mound at home, where they lost his seven previous starts. They've also improved overall at AT&T Park, winning seven of their last nine there.

The Giants seemed at home in this series opener against Milwaukee. Their 13-run output was their highest in an AT&T Park date since a 16-run clamor against Cincinnati on Aug. 24, 2010. Moreover, the Giants' 19 hits were the second-most they've amassed here, eclipsed only by a 20-hit assortment against the Marlins on Aug. 14, 2001.

Having produced exactly zero runs for Vogelsong while he was in the game in his previous five starts at AT&T Park -- and an average of 1.89 runs at home in 13 starts all season -- the Giants generated enough offense for him to throw underhanded.

They scored in each of the first five innings, stunning Milwaukee with a three-run first inning that included consecutive singles by Panik, Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence. Brewers starter Wily Peralta (15-9) would have tied Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the Major League lead in victories had he subdued the Giants. Instead, he yielded six runs and nine hits in three innings.

"We put up some really, really good at-bats against a really tough guy," said Vogelsong (8-9), who yielded four hits and both of Milwaukee's runs while striking out seven in seven innings. "It's easy to let your guard down and it's tough when you're sitting in the dugout that long every inning. I'm pretty happy that I was able to keep my focus."

As a picturesque sunset formed in the skies beyond right field, Posey performed as if the sun had just begun to rise on his season. After singling Panik to third base to launch the Giants' first-inning surge, Posey drilled an RBI single in the second inning, singled off shortstop Elian Herrera's glove to lead off the fourth, tripled in the fifth and singled in the sixth. He scored three runs and drove in three more, earning the final three innings off.

"It would have been nice to have him go for six, but the rest was more important," Bochy said.

"At this point in the year I got to get a chance to come out and get in the cold tub," Posey said. "It was already a three-hour game at that point, and I want to be in there as much as I can the rest of the way."

That's understandable. In nine games since Aug. 21, when he went 4-for-4 at Chicago, Posey's hitting .500 (20-for-40) with 11 runs scored, three doubles, a triple, five homers and 13 RBIs. He has lifted his batting average during this span from .278 to .297, matching the highest figure he has reached since May 13.

Posey preferred to talk about Panik.

"Talk about confidence," Posey said. "It seems like for the last three or four weeks, every time he comes up to bat he feels he's going to get a hit. He's got a really nice, simple approach and a knack for getting the barrel on the ball."

The success was shared by Angel Pagan, who went 3-for-5; Gregor Blanco, who drew three walks preceding a fifth-inning homer; and Vogelsong, who singled and scored in the second inning.

"This was gone, basically, pretty early," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We got a run early and you hope you can bounce back. But once it gets to that point, you're trying to survive with your pitching staff."


Giants to give Petit another start in Lincecum's slot

Giants to give Petit another start in Lincecum's slot play video for Giants to give Petit another start in Lincecum's slot

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a successful outing Thursday afternoon, Yusmeiro Petit has earned another start for the Giants.

Manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday night's game that Petit, not Tim Lincecum, will start in Colorado on Tuesday, the next time what was once Lincecum's rotation turn comes around.

"It's hard to take him out how he's throwing the ball right now," Bochy said of Petit, who had one of his season's best starts Thursday.

Petit recorded the win and struck out nine while allowing just one earned run on four hits in six innings in the Giants' 4-1 victory against the Rockies. He also set a Major League record with 46 consecutive retired batters before a Jordan Lyles double snapped the streak.

He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in seven starts this season and is 2-1 with a 1.84 ERA in 49 innings out of the bullpen.


Bochy eager to get Lincecum relief appearance

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Given Yusmeiro Petit's stellar outing Thursday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the plan is to give Petit -- not Tim Lincecum -- the start next Tuesday in Colorado. He hopes to give Lincecum game action soon, though.

Bochy spoke highly of Lincecum's bullpen sessions, saying he's improved each area the Giants hoped he would: He's locating his pitches better, has simplified his delivery and has regained his balance on the mound, so he's no longer falling off to its left as much.

Now Bochy just needs to find the right opportunity to use the righty out of the bullpen, which according to Bochy, could be just about any time.

"He's versatile, so it could be a long situation or could be how I used him in the postseason, since we liked him in that role," Bochy said. "He's got four pitches and I like him against lefties and righties, so I think he could help set up for us, too.

"It's going to be an adjustment, but he's done that and he's all in on this, just like he was before."

Lincecum was sent to the bullpen after going 1-3 with a 9.49 ERA in 24 2/3 innings in his previous six starts.


Blanco, Giants back Petit's record-setting day

Outfielder hits his first HR in SF since '12; pitcher retires 46th straight

Blanco, Giants back Petit's record-setting day play video for Blanco, Giants back Petit's record-setting day

SAN FRANCISCO -- Once the Giants remembered that they were supposed to beat the Rockies, they turned this four-game series into a keepsake worth preserving.

On Tuesday, Madison Bumgarner approached a perfect game. On Wednesday, Tim Hudson notched his 2,000th strikeout and Bruce Bochy collected his 1,600th managerial victory. Yusmeiro Petit joined the milestone-makers Thursday by retiring his 46th consecutive batter to establish a Major League mark during the Giants' 4-1 triumph over Colorado at AT&T Park.

The Giants' biggest achievement, however, was a collective one. By capturing the final three games against Colorado, which owns the National League's worst record, San Francisco won a home series it should have won -- a rare occasion this summer. The Giants have posted a 13-24 record at AT&T Park since June 9, but they're 7-3 in their last 10 home dates.

San Francisco secured its second home series in a row, coupled with a two-out-of-three effort Aug. 15-17 against Philadelphia. If the Giants' improvement is genuine, it's occurring at an opportune time. They're competing with St. Louis, Atlanta and Pittsburgh for one of the league's two Wild Card spots. And they haven't given up on overtaking Los Angeles, which leads them in the NL West by 4 1/2 games.

"That's always a good sign, that they're starting to get that confidence back here at home and find ways to win," Bochy said. "This is our park [with] great fans. You can't beat what we have here. Hopefully it'll continue, and it's going to have to continue for us to get where we want."

Bochy's club is showing signs of regaining the prowess it displayed during its staggering 42-21 start. The Giants have homered in nine consecutive games, exceeded only by an 11-game streak from April 22-May 4. Thursday's power was generated by an unlikely source: left fielder Gregor Blanco, who golfed a 2-1 delivery from Rockies starter Jordan Lyles over the right-field wall for a two-run homer in the second inning.

It was Blanco's first homer at AT&T Park since June 13, 2012 -- the night that Matt Cain threw his perfect game against Houston.

"My timing is better," said Blanco, who's batting .306 (33-for-108) in his last 41 games. "I'm trying to keep the bat in front of the ball."

Other aspects of the Giants' offense could be falling into place. Leadoff batter Angel Pagan finished with his first three-hit game since his Aug. 7 return from the back injury that sidelined him for 44 games. Following Pagan's second hit, a sixth-inning single, he stole second base and scored an insurance run on Hunter Pence's sacrifice fly.

"It's so nice to have him back," Bochy said of Pagan.

Pence drove in that run from the fifth spot in the batting order, which he occupied for the first time since April 18. Joe Panik replaced Pence as the No. 2 hitter. Though a day off for Michael Morse prompted the shuffling, Bochy will consider implementing this sequence more frequently.

"I'm going to noodle this tonight," Bochy said. "But I kind of like [how] it balances out the lineup. Pence is a guy who doesn't care where he hits."

Finally, the Giants' pitching sparkled against Colorado. Starters recorded a 0.90 ERA while allowing 15 hits in 30 innings against the league's highest-scoring team. Then again, the Rockies played without three injured offensive dynamos: Troy Tulowitzki, Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gonzalez.

San Francisco's pitchers will receive another test this weekend when the NL Central-leading Brewers visit for a three-game series. Milwaukee ranks second in the league in runs.


Petit retires 46th straight to set MLB record

Petit retires 46th straight to set MLB record play video for Petit retires 46th straight to set MLB record

SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew Susac's innocent mistake reflected the absence of fuss surrounding Yusmeiro Petit's pursuit of history.

After Colorado's Brandon Barnes took a called third strike to end the second inning of Thursday's Giants-Rockies series finale, Susac, San Francisco's catcher, generously tossed the ball to a fan seated in the front row.

Except Susac wasn't supposed to do that. Authenticators were on hand to gather baseballs thrown by Petit as he approached Mark Buehrle's 2009 Major League record of 45 consecutive batters retired.

"I didn't have any clue what was going on," Susac said.

By contrast, Petit maintained a keen sense of everything that involved him. He dominated the Rockies long enough to set down their first eight hitters, enabling him to retire his 46th batter in a row and eclipse the standard Buehrle set as a member of the Chicago White Sox.

"I'm very happy to be able to establish this new record," said Petit, who yielded one run and four hits in six innings to earn the decision in San Francisco's 4-1 triumph. "At the beginning, I didn't know about it, but in Washington I learned I had a streak going, and I tried to focus and do everything possible."

Petit, 29, began amassing his record total at the end of a July 22 start at Philadelphia. Then came six consecutive appearances out of the bullpen, mostly in his role as San Francisco's long reliever. Petit replaced struggling right-hander Tim Lincecum for the start against the Rockies.

Petit pitched 4 1/3 perfect innings in that Washington outing he mentioned, lengthening his streak of bamboozled batters to 38. He amassed five strikeouts in his final surge past Buehrle, including Colorado's Jackson Williams and Charlie Culberson to tie and break the record, respectively, in the third inning. The AT&T Park audience rewarded Petit with a standing ovation after Culberson went down swinging.

Petit's freshly established record held at 46 as opposing pitcher Jordan Lyles doubled to left field.

"I'll definitely be a trivia question down the road somewhere," Lyles said.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy maintained that nothing was trivial about Petit's accomplishment.

"It's really incredible, when you think about it," Bochy said. "This game has been played a long time, and it's quite a record to be proud of. It's amazing to me."

Bochy acknowledged that Petit's steady progress toward Buehrle's standard "kind of went unnoticed for a long time. ... Now he's got it. He should be very proud of that."

Petit was indeed proud, though witnesses said that he profusely thanked teammates during a brief postgame champagne toast for their contributions to his success.

Susac pointed out that Petit deserved to keep some credit for himself.

"Honestly, the only pitch he missed on was the pitch to [Lyles] the next at-bat [after the record was set]," Susac said. "Other than that, he was lights out. He threw his off-speed [pitches] any time he wanted. His cutter was sharp today. But for the most part, he just pounded fastballs and hit the corners."

Petit nearly etched himself into baseball immortality last Sept. 6, when he needed one out to complete a perfect game against Arizona. Eric Chavez spoiled the moment by singling.

Petit drew from the memory of that disappointment to drive himself toward Buehrle's record.

"I said to myself, 'This is not going to happen to me again,'" Petit said. "So I concentrated specifically on getting there. ... I think it's like a reward for all the work I've put into my pitching. I think God gave me a second opportunity."


Panik could solidify No. 2 spot in Giants' lineup

Panik could solidify No. 2 spot in Giants' lineup play video for Panik could solidify No. 2 spot in Giants' lineup

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Joe Panik's appearance in the batting order's No. 2 spot for Thursday's series finale against Colorado could be part of an ongoing audition, not just a product of mixing and matching.

This marked Panik's 10th start in which he batted second, so it was nothing new. He occupied that spot because Hunter Pence, San Francisco's regular No. 2 hitter, dropped to the fifth spot with Michael Morse receiving a rest. Bochy explained that he didn't want a batting order that was thick with rookies in its bottom half; catcher Andrew Susac and shortstop Matt Duffy hit seventh and eighth, respectively. Hence, the experienced Pence hit fifth for the 11th time this year and first since April 18.

As Pence's presence in the second spot for most of the season suggests, Bochy is not stuck on the notion of filling that role in traditional fashion. However, he hinted that he'd prefer somebody at No. 2 who can spray the ball to all fields, hit behind runners and execute the hit-and-run. Not only does Panik fit that profile, but Bochy also added that Panik "eventually" could settle into the No. 2 hitter's role.

"I like a two-hole hitter who can do some things," Bochy said, though he emphasized that the type of No. 2 hitter he employs in the future will depend on how that hitter can complement the rest of the lineup.

{"content":["mlb_notebook" ] }

MLB Notebook: Petit's record no small feat

Giants righty retires first eight Rockies on Thursday to run streak to 46 in a row

MLB Notebook: Petit's record no small feat play video for MLB Notebook: Petit's record no small feat

On July 22 in Philadelphia, Giants right-hander Yusmeiro Petit -- in his first start since the end of May -- concluded his day having allowed five runs, seven hits and two walks in five innings. But he did manage to finish his start by retiring the last batter he faced, getting Grady Sizemore on a groundout.

As it turns out, that final batter was significantly more resonant than any of the first 23 hitters Petit faced on that -- at the time -- seemingly forgettable day for the 29-year-old.

After Sizemore, Petit next came to the mound on July 26 and retired all six Dodgers batters he faced. He followed that relief stint with a six-up, six-down treatment of the Pirates on July 28, rolled through one perfect relief inning against the Brewers on Aug. 7, and then went 1-2-3 in the sixth inning against the Royals on August 10. Nine days later against the Cubs, Petit threw two perfect innings and, for some added panache, fanned the first five batters he faced. Next came a perfect 4 1/3 innings of relief on Aug. 23 -- an outing that concluded with Petit retiring Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche on a groundout in the seventh.

And so from Sizemore through LaRoche, Petit had faced 38 batters and retired them all -- the equivalent to 12 2/3 perfect innings.

Petit passes Buehrle
Making his first start after six consecutive relief appearances, Petit set down the first eight Rockies he faced Thursday in a 4-1 win to extend his streak of consecutive batters retired to 46 (the ninth batter -- pitcher Jordan Lyles -- doubled). And with the 46th out -- a strikeout of Charlie Culberson -- Petit set a new Major League record, surpassing the 45 straight batters retired by Mark Buehrle in 2009.

Buehrle's streak covered outings from July 18-28, with his perfect game sandwiched between two other starts, The lefty retired the final batter he faced on July 18, then 27 in a row in his perfect game, followed by the first 17 in his next start after the perfecto.

Hamilton helps Reds run past Cubs
Billy Hamilton collected his 51st steal of the season -- one of six stolen bases recorded by the Reds in their 7-2 victory over the Cubs.

For Hamilton, the 51 tie him with Hanley Ramirez (2006) for 17th most for a rookie in the modern era. Up next, at 53, are Donie Bush (1909) and Omar Moreno ('77). The same year Bush recorded his 53, Cincinnati's Bob Bescher collected 54 steals to set the still-standing Reds franchise rookie record.

Hamilton is second in the National League in steals behind the Dodgers' Dee Gordon, who has 58. The NL most recently had two players reach 60 stolen bases in a season in 2007, when Jose Reyes had 78 to take the title over Juan Pierre and his 64.

The Reds' six steals Thursday were the most for the club since they swiped six against the Nats on May 10, 2006, and the most against the Cubs since they allowed six in a loss on July 28, 1977. Dating back to 1914, this game marked the sixth time Cincinnati had recorded at least six steals against Chicago, but it was the first time it was done in a victory.

Reds first baseman Todd Frazier (who has hit 22 home runs this season) collected two steals to reach 19. Cincinnati most recently had a corner infielder produce a 20-20 season in 2002, when third baseman Aaron Boone hit 26 home runs and stole 32 bases.

Angels walk off vs. A's
The Angels defeated the Athletics, 4-3, in 10 innings to open up a two-game lead over Oakland for first place in the American League West. With the victory, Los Angeles also improved to 44-24 (.647) at home (the second-best home run record in the Majors, behind the A's .652 mark).

Over the first 53 seasons of Halos baseball, the club has finished at or above .640 at home four times. In 2002, the eventual World Series champions went 54-27 for a .667 winning percentage: one that was matched in 2007. In 1982 and '89, the club played .642 ball at home, going 52-29 each season.

Albert Pujols, who opened the 10th inning with a walk, scored the winning run on Howie Kendrick's sacrifice fly. In his career:

• Pujols owns a .999 OPS when leading off an inning. Since 1973, among players with at least 1,500 plate appearances for this split, that OPS is the highest, ahead of Mark McGwire's .991.

• Pujols owns a 1.004 OPS in "late & close" situations. Since 1973, that mark -- among players with at least 1,200 plate appearances in the split -- is the highest, ahead of Barry Bonds' .990.

• Pujols owns a 1.130 OPS in extra innings. Among players since 1973 with at least 150 plate appearances for this split, that OPS is the second highest, behind Jack Clark's 1.154.

Twins bullish about Dozier's bat
The Twins' Brian Dozier had three hits, three RBIs, two runs and a walk in an 11-5 win over the Royals. During the big night, he collected his 30th double, surpassed 60 RBIs and upped his AL-leading runs scored total to 94.

Dozier has 50 extra-base hits, has swiped 20 bases and drawn 77 walks. The five most recent times a second basemen reached 100 runs, 20 steals, 50 extra-base hits and 80 walks in a season were Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia in 2011, Chase Utley in '09 and Brian Roberts in '07 and '08. The only Senators/Twins second baseman to do this was Chuck Knoblauch in 1996.

Here and there
• In Detroit, Alex Avila produced a game-ending single in the bottom of the ninth as the Tigers defeated the Yankees, 3-2. Just three weeks earlier (on Aug. 5), Avila homered in the top of the 12th for the go-ahead run against the Yanks in an eventual 4-3 victory. Avila is the first Tigers player since Lou Whitaker in 1989 to have multiple go-ahead hits in the ninth inning or later in the same season against the Yankees. In '89, Whitaker had a walk-off homer in the 10th inning against Dave Righetti on June 28, and delivered an 11th-inning go-ahead homer against Eric Plunk in an eventual 6-5 loss on July 6.

• In the Braves' 6-1 win over the Mets, third baseman Chris Johnson went 2-for-4, with both of his hits coming against New York lefty Jon Niese. With the 2-for-3 effort against Niese, Johnson holds a .424 average (39-for-92) against southpaws this season -- the highest average for any player with at least 75 plate appearances against left-handers. No Braves player in the past 40 seasons has finished a year with such a high mark in this split, with the existing high standard (since 1974) for batting average against lefties standing at .415 (Chipper Jones in 2000 and Eli Marrero in '04). The most recent player to have at least 75 plate appearances against left-handers and finish with a batting average of at least .420 in that split was the Giants' Buster Posey, who hit .433 in 2012. Before him, the Brewers' Ryan Braun batted .450 in 2007.

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Replay confirms Rockies get Pence out at plate

Replay confirms Rockies get Pence out at plate play video for Replay confirms Rockies get Pence out at plate

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants unsuccessfully challenged an umpire's decision in the eighth inning of their 4-1 victory over the Rockies in which Hunter Pence was thrown out at home plate.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy believed that Colorado catcher Jackson Williams didn't get the tag down on Pence in time after receiving a throw from third baseman Nolan Arenado, who leaped to spear Matt Duffy's sharp grounder.

Video review of the play confirmed that Williams tagged out Pence in time, and there was no illegal blocking of the plate.

{"content":["replay" ] }

Hudson notches 2,000th strikeout in Giants' win

Veteran righty fans Rockies pitcher Morales in sixth to reach milestone

Hudson notches 2,000th strikeout in Giants' win play video for Hudson notches 2,000th strikeout in Giants' win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Hudson briefly felt confused when Giants manager Bruce Bochy approached him in the dugout after Wednesday night's sixth inning.

"He shook my hand like he normally does after he takes me out," Hudson said, who had thrown only 62 pitches, was locked in a 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rockies and had done nothing to warrant removal from the game.

Then other Giants players approached the right-hander for more handshakes. Hudson then realized that they were congratulating him for recording his 2,000th career strikeout, which occurred when he slipped a called third strike past opposing starter Franklin Morales to open the sixth.

"It just says I've been playing for a long time," said Hudson, who struck out two more batters to finish with eight in eight innings before Buster Posey's two-run, walk-off homer gave the Giants a 4-2 triumph. Added Hudson, who broke into the Majors in 1999 with Oakland, "It's a milestone I'm proud of. I'm not really considered a strikeout guy, but I'm just glad I can go out there and still give the team a good chance to win."

Hudson certainly did that against Colorado. He allowed just four hits, including Corey Dickerson's fifth-inning leadoff homer, and appeared destined to break a personal four-game home losing streak before Justin Morneau stroked a ninth-inning RBI double off Giants closer Santiago Casilla.

"He just really had a good feel tonight for when to attack and when to nibble beyond the corners," said Posey, Hudson's catcher.

Bochy admitted that lifting Hudson before the ninth was a "tough call," since he had thrown only 87 pitches. But Hudson understood the decision.

"It's a one-run game in the ninth inning. We've got a closer ready to come in the game. It's the right call," said Hudson, who ranks 71st on the all-time strikeout list. "Unfortunately for me, it didn't work out as far as getting the decision. But we won the game in that inning, so that's all that matters."


Posey's walk-off keeps Giants in Wild Card control

Two-run shot has San Francisco 1 1/2 games up on Braves, Bucs

Posey's walk-off keeps Giants in Wild Card control play video for Posey's walk-off keeps Giants in Wild Card control

SAN FRANCISCO -- In a rare on-field display of emotion, Buster Posey quickly clapped his hands twice after lashing a seventh-inning single that gave the Giants a temporary lead Wednesday night.

What Posey did later drew greater applause and was more enduring.

Posey belted a two-run homer to break a ninth-inning deadlock and lift the Giants to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies, which San Francisco needed to maintain its footing in the races for a postseason berth. The Giants stayed 1 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta and Pittsburgh in the competition for the National League's second Wild Card spot. San Francisco remained five games behind first-place Los Angeles in the NL West.

It was a milestone-filled night at AT&T Park. Giants starter Tim Hudson recorded his 2,000th strikeout during a scintillating eight-inning effort. San Francisco's Bruce Bochy recorded his 1,600th career managerial triumph, thus surpassing Tommy Lasorda for 19th place all-time. And Colorado's Corey Dickerson clobbered a fifth-inning homer, the lone run Hudson allowed, over the right-field barrier and into San Francisco Bay. It was the 100th ball hit into the drink in regular-season play, 66 of them being "Splash Hits" by Giants players.

But Posey's walkoff homer transcended all these feats.

With the score tied at 2, Angel Pagan singled with one out in the ninth off Juan Nicasio (5-6), Colorado's fourth reliever. Nicasio approached safety by striking out Hunter Pence. Then Posey drilled an 0-1 fastball into the tunnel beyond the left-field corner for his third home run in two games. He also has driven in seven of San Francisco's nine runs in this series, exceeding the Rockies' five-run total.

Posey accounted for his offensive outburst in typically understated fashion. "I just keep my simple approach and try to get the barrel on [the ball]," he said.

Others, however, understand the 2012 NL Most Valuable Player's potential impact. "We need to jump on his shoulders and get us through this last month," Hudson said.

Demonstrating his calm, confident approach, Posey worked the count to 3-2 before delivering his seventh-inning hit off Rockies right-hander Brooks Brown that put the Giants ahead, 2-1. "I was happy we had the lead," Posey said, explaining his burst of applause. "I thought we were going to win the game."

They did, but endured some drama first.

Santiago Casilla (2-3), who converted his previous 11 save opportunities, finally blew one as the Rockies pulled even in the ninth. Casilla struck Drew Stubbs with a pitch to open the inning and set up Justin Morneau's run-scoring double. That denied a victorious decision to Hudson, who surrendered four hits in eight innings.

But instead of crumbling, a resolute Casilla forced Michael McKenry to bounce into an inning-ending double play, which started with shortstop Matt Duffy's deft stop of a tricky hop.

"That's not easy to do," Posey said, praising Casilla for extinguishing the Rockies' offense after they tied the score. Referring to Madison Bumgarner's reaction to losing his perfect game in Tuesday's eighth inning, Posey added, "It's kind of like Bumgarner giving up the double last night and striking out the side."

Posey's surge reflected his excitement generated by the Giants' bid to return to the postseason following a dreary 2013 campaign.

"This is a fun time of the year," he said. "It's night and day coming to the park compared to last year. There's really no way around it. It's a better feeling."

Bochy, who steered the Giants to World Series triumphs in 2010 and 2012 -- the franchise's sole triumphs in the Fall Classic since it moved west in 1958 -- deflected the spotlight produced by win No. 1,600 toward others.

"It means I'm very fortunate," Bochy said. "It really does. You're lucky to, first of all, be doing what I'm doing up here. It's just been a tremendous ride. ... It's all about the support that you've had over the years -- ownership, front office, players, coaches. That number's not you. Sure, it goes on your record. But there's so many people that have done something to help me, and you don't forget that, how lucky you are to be doing this as long as I've been doing it."


Sanchez likely lost for season with concussion issues

Sanchez likely lost for season with concussion issues play video for Sanchez likely lost for season with concussion issues

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants catcher Hector Sanchez is continuing to endure unpleasant post-concussion symptoms and almost surely will miss the rest of the season.

Manager Bruce Bochy rated Sanchez's chances of returning to the active roster in 2014 as "very slim."

Sanchez returned from visiting Dr. Michael Collins, a Pittsburgh-based expert on sports-related concussions, who urged the 24-year-old switch-hitter to refrain from baseball-related activities for at least three more weeks and limit his workouts to light exercising.

"There's nothing he can do about it," Bochy said of Sanchez. "He just needs more rest."

Sanchez admitted Wednesday that he felt nauseous and dizzy during recent attempts to exercise. He added that he's having trouble sleeping and feels low on energy.

Sanchez said that Dr. Collins suggested a regimen of light exercises to perform, such as jogging and agility drills, and wants to re-examine him after three weeks.

"I have to be positive that I'll be fine," said Sanchez, whose progress was halted when he sustained his second concussion of the season earlier this month during a Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Fresno.

In 66 games with the Giants this year, Sanchez has hit .196 with three home runs and 28 RBIs.


Bumgarner's near no-hitter doesn't surprise Giants

Bumgarner's near no-hitter doesn't surprise Giants play video for Bumgarner's near no-hitter doesn't surprise Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner's one-hitter Tuesday night was another in a series of efforts when he appeared to be on course for throwing a no-hitter. The Giants firmly believe that he'll someday accomplish the feat.

Bumgarner maintained a perfect game against Colorado for seven innings Tuesday before Justin Morneau doubled leading off the eighth inning. Two years ago, Bumgarner no-hit Colorado for 5 1/3 innings on April 12, then finished with a one-hitter against Cincinnati on June 28 after fashioning five no-hit innings.

In 4 1/2 big league seasons, Bumgarner has made 26 starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and allowed four hits or fewer.

Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong has long regarded a Bumgarner no-hitter as imminent.

"It's not just this year. I've thought that in the past," Vogelsong said Wednesday. "He definitely has everything it takes to do it, not just stuff."

Pointing out that Bumgarner struck out the next four Rockies batters following Morneau's hit, Vogelsong added, "He has the mentality. You saw that last night. After he gave up that hit, he very easily could have lost his focus. He didn't even come close to that."

Said manager Bruce Bochy, referring to Bumgarner, "Any time you have a pitcher with his stuff, command and demeanor, you think he has a good chance to do it."

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Bumgarner takes perfecto into eighth in one-hitter

Morneau's double the only runner allowed by lefty; Posey homers twice

Bumgarner takes perfecto into eighth in one-hitter play video for Bumgarner takes perfecto into eighth in one-hitter

SAN FRANCISCO -- After catching the final out of Madison Bumgarner's Tuesday night masterpiece, Matt Duffy handed the ball to the man of the hour, who will eventually enshrine the keepsake in his personal trophy case. His shutout won't be immortalized in the history books, but it might as well.

Bumgarner was six outs away from a perfect game at AT&T Park when Justin Morneau intruded on the ace's flirtation with perfection, poking a double down the right-field line. That was all the offense the Rockies could amass, though, and the Giants won, 3-0, thanks to the star lefty's second career one-hitter.

There weren't any dogpiles on the mound or postgame champagne toasts in the clubhouse Tuesday, as was the case after Matt Cain's 2012 perfect game and Tim Lincecum's two no-hitters. But, as the numbers attest, fans along the shores of McCovey Cove were treated to one of the more dominant pitching performances in Major League history.

One hit allowed. A career-high-tying 13 strikeouts. Fifteen of the 28 batters faced fell into 0-2 counts. Eighty of 103 pitches were strikes.

"That game was probably more impressive than a lot of no-hitters," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's how well he threw tonight."

That includes the 1-2 curveball Morneau knocked down the right-field line to lead off the eighth.

"I was going to try and bounce one low and away, and I think it would have bounced had he not hit it," said Bumgarner, who is tops in the National League with six double-digit strikeout games this season. "He's a good hitter and he happened to hit it pretty good.

"I felt good about it and have no regrets on throwing it."

For Bochy and Buster Posey, the most impressive aspect of Bumgarner's brilliance, even moreso than the one hit he allowed or his impeccable command, was what happened after the hit: four consecutive strikeouts.

Thanks to the hit, there wasn't another edition of Buster Hugs, but there was plenty of Buster Help.

Bumgarner's batterymate ensured he would have the little run support he'd need in the sixth inning. After a leadoff walk by Hunter Pence, Posey turned an 82 mph splitter from Jorge De La Rosa into a two-run blast to left-center to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. Posey added a solo shot in the eighth for his second career multi-homer game.

"No question," Posey said when asked if the run support was a major relief in the dugout. "At that point, you could sense that he had an opportunity to do it, and it definitely would've gotten a bit stressful if we didn't have any runs on the board in the ninth."

If not for a pair of tremendous defensive plays early in the game, perfect-game chatter would've never commenced.

It was way too early to consider the potential magnitude of the catch, but Gregor Blanco -- who has a knack for working his way into the highlight reel during perfect (or near-perfect) games from Giant pitchers -- preserved the bid for the perfecto well before history crept into anyone's minds. In the game's second at-bat, Drew Stubbs smacked a 93 mph fastball to deep left. Blanco tracked back and timed his leap to make the snag at the top of the wall.

In the fifth inning, Matt McBride hit a grounder toward the hole to Brandon Crawford's right. Crawford ranged right, gathered the ball and one-hopped his throw across the infield in time for Michael Morse to make an excellent pick, to preserve the perfect game through five. The play was bang-bang, but after a brief conversation with first-base umpire Jim Joyce, Rockies manager Walt Weiss opted not to issue a replay challenge.

"They looked very determined to straighten that out tonight," Bochy said of the defense, which committed four errors and balked in a run Monday. "We played very crisp baseball. The defense really picked us up, especially early. It's good to see guys bounce back."

The win kept the Giants five games behind the Dodgers in the National League West and increased their advantage on the Braves for the NL's second Wild Card spot to 1 1/2 games.

To Bumgarner, that was Tuesday night's most notable statistic.

"It's a cool thing to do and a good individual accomplishment, but that's not important to me," Bumgarner said when asked if throwing a no-hitter or perfect game is a goal. "It's definitely an amazing accomplishment, but when it comes down to it, we're trying to win games; it's not about something about yourself.

"The fact that we won was more than enough. That's all we're trying to do anyway."

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }
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With precision, Bumgarner reaches new heights

Masterful use of arsenal helps Giants' ace hold Rockies to one baserunner

With precision, Bumgarner reaches new heights play video for With precision, Bumgarner reaches new heights

Forget that it was a beautiful combination of power and precision. Madison Bumgarner takes those things to the mound almost every start. Forget that it was smarts and guts, too. Those are routine for this guy as well. In the end, it was a lot simpler than that.

It was magical. Isn't that about the best explanation for what the Giants lefty did during Tuesday night's one-hit shutout against the Rockies? Go back and watch it pitch by pitch. Watch the location. And the velocity. And the movement. And then watch it all over again. Watch the hitters. Watch their reaction.

Sometimes even the best of the best achieve a different level of perfection that maybe even they didn't think possible. If you ask the 25-year-old Bumgarner, he would almost certainly tell you his 143rd career start was a grind, a pitch-by-pitch effort to get it right.

The Giants needed this one, badly. They were coming off an ugly 3-2 loss in which they committed four errors. Jake Peavy balked home a run and lost his cool, and I'm guessing that in the hours after the game, neither Peavy nor plate umpire Doug Eddings was real proud of himself.

San Francisco began Tuesday having lost three in a row to fall five games behind the Dodgers in the National League West. If the season ended today, the Giants would snag the second NL Wild Card berth, but the Braves, Pirates and Marlins are within striking distance.

So every game counts. Down the stretch, San Francisco has six more with the Dodgers, three in Detroit and three against Milwaukee. If you look at the Giants a certain way, you see a team capable of playing deep into October.

To beat San Francisco means getting by Tim Hudson and Bumgarner, and plenty of teams have done special things with two guys that good at the top of the rotation.

If the Giants do get to October, everyone will be paying attention. They're trying to win the World Series for the third time in five seasons, and when you've got a core of players and a manager and organization that have had that kind of success, there's a inner core of toughness and confidence that makes them dangerous.

Bumgarner surely felt the responsibility of all that's going on around the Giants. That's what aces do. They accept the responsibility for being the guy who stops losing streaks, who pushes the reset button.

That's not what we saw. Rather, we saw a guy performing at a higher level than the rest of us can comprehend. Some of his teammates have been there. Tim Lincecum, for sure. Definitely Matt Cain.

Remember that night Michael Jordan turned to the scorer's table and shrugged as 3s kept falling from the sky? He's the best there ever was, and yet there were nights he did things that amazed even himself.

On a night when Bumgarner changed speed, location, movement, etc., so perfectly, on a night when he was able to do almost whatever he wanted to do with the baseball, there were points at which the Rockies simply had no idea what to expect.

This is pitching. Sure, it's that. But it's something else. On some strange level, it's the artistry that is pitching well at the big league level. It's never about velocity, although velocity is important. Location and movement and changing speeds have always been more important. It's figuring out what the hitter wants to get and giving him something else.

Bumgarner set a tone in the first inning by getting three outs on three different pitches. He threw a first-pitch strike to all three hitters, and then he worked off his fastball to make his slider and changeup that much better.

Bumgarner introduced his curveball in the second inning, throwing three of them in all, one for a swinging strike to Justin Morneau and missing the strike zone with the other two.

Again, everything begins with the fastball, its location and movement and velocity. It's where everything begins. Bumgarner threw six of them in the second inning, five for strikes.

And yet when he faced Michael MeKenry, Bumgarner went slider-curve-slider-curve. He finished the second inning with Matt McBride taking a 93-mph fastball.

At this point, after just two innings, Bumgarner had established that he would throw any pitch at any time. After that, it was a matter of how precise he could be. How many mistakes would Bumgarner make? Would someone, say, golf one off the ankles?

Bumgarner had retired 21 in a row when Morneau slapped a curveball to right field for a double, the only baserunner the Rockies would have all night in San Francisco's 3-0 victory.

Bumgarner had set Morneau up with three straight fastballs, getting a swinging strike, a foul ball and one that missed the strike zone. He figured he had positioned himself nicely for something else. Morneau adjusted. End of perfect game.

And that's the story. Bumgarner was able to throw all of his pitches at any time. He threw 103 pitches in all, 80 of them for strikes. Bumgarner faced 28 hitters. He had 0-2 counts on 15 of them. Bumgarner reached a three-ball count only once.

When Bumgarner finished his no-walk, 13-strikeout night, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "This game was probably more impressive than a lot of no-hitters."

Bumgarner pretty much put them where he wanted to put them. He finished the ninth the way he'd begun the first, by establishing that 92-mph fastball and mixing in just enough of the other stuff to keep hitters off balance.

Bumgarner struck out Charlie Culberson on a curve to open the ninth, then didn't mess around. Six of his final seven pitches were fastballs. Bumgarner got Charlie Blackmon on an infield pop and Josh Rutledge on a fly ball to right field.

There were no champagne showers. Bumgarner just missed that. But as he said, all that mattered is that the Giants had won. They did it because Bumgarner pitched one of the best games you will ever see pitched, a thing of beauty.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Giants sticking with struggling Crawford

Giants sticking with struggling Crawford play video for Giants sticking with struggling Crawford

SAN FRANCISCO -- A pair of errors Monday night added angst to a fan base growing weary of Brandon Crawford's play, but the Giants shortstop isn't going anywhere -- and that includes extended trips to the bench.

In his last 19 games entering Tuesday, Crawford, who's well-liked in the clubhouse, was hitting .159 (10-for-63) and had struck out 22 times. His average hasn't been north of .250 since the end of June, and it's been below .240 since Aug. 2.

His .201 average against right-handed throwers is the lowest among qualifying National League hitters. He's hitting .283 against lefties.

"We're getting to the point where we'd like to run these guys [the regular starters] out there as much as we can," manager Bruce Bochy said before Tuesday night's game. "At the same time, we got to start getting some runs on the board and we have to do something there to help the cause."

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Susac's progress opening Giants' eyes

Susac's progress opening Giants' eyes play video for Susac's progress opening Giants' eyes

SAN FRANCISCO -- Angel Pagan was next to manager Bruce Bochy in the Giants dugout Monday night when Andrew Susac hit a home run where home runs rarely go at AT&T Park: to straightaway center field.

Bochy was thoroughly impressed and made even moreso after Pagan leaned over and told him the wind was blowing in out there.

"That home run was one of the more impressive ones we've had this year," Bochy said Tuesday. "He's probably done as much improving as any of our prospects."

After recording just one hit in his first 13 at-bats, Susac has made strides of late, as he entered Tuesday hitting .304 (7-for-23) with two home runs and seven RBIs in eight games since. Combined with the acumen he's displayed behind the plate, he's making a case to be a viable option as the Giants' catcher of the future, if the team opts to spare Buster Posey wear and tear by shifting him to a corner-infield position.

"He's been right on the money throwing the ball, too," Bochy said. "He hasn't had an easy job back there, for the most part catching Timmy [Lincecum]. When you're a kid, that's not easy."

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Blackburn leads six SF prospects named to AFL

Blackburn leads six SF prospects named to AFL play video for Blackburn leads six SF prospects named to AFL

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Arizona Fall League announced its preliminary rosters for the 2014 season Tuesday, with six Giants prospects tabbed for the league.

They are pitchers Clayton Blackburn, Erik Cordier, Steven Okert and Hunter Strickland as well as infielder Blake Miller and outfielder Daniel Carbonell. They will team with prospects from the Mets, Phillies, Pirates and Yankees to form the Scottsdale Scorpions.

MLB.com's prospects rankings have Blackburn pegged as the Giants' seventh-best prospect, while Okert is rated the organization's 10th-best.

At Double-A Richmond, Blackburn is 4-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 16 starts, Okert is 1-0 with a 3.03 ERA in 21 appearances and Strickland is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 36 appearances this season.

The 28-year-old Cordier is 3-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 44 appearances at Triple-A Fresno.

Miller has hit .333 with 11 RBIs in 20 games this season at Double-A Richmond, and Carbonell has hit .273 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 15 games with Class A Advanced San Jose.

The six-week league begins its season Oct. 7 and runs through Nov. 15, with a championship game held at Scottsdale Stadium. The league's Fall Stars Game, which will feature a handful of Top 100 prospects, will be held Nov. 1 at Salt River Fields.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Mistakes costly as Giants fall to Rockies

Four errors, balk lead to runs; Susac's homer highlights offense

Mistakes costly as Giants fall to Rockies play video for Mistakes costly as Giants fall to Rockies

SAN FRANCISCO -- One reason the Giants are looking up at the rival Dodgers in the National League West race? The teams' performances against the Rockies, owners of the NL's worst record.

With a 3-2 loss to the Rockies inside AT&T Park on Monday night, the Giants dropped to 4-8 against Colorado this season. The Dodgers -- who will wake up Tuesday with a five-game advantage in the NL West -- are 9-4 against the Rockies.

It was the home team that looked more like one of baseball's worst teams Monday.

The Giants set the tone for their sloppy showing during the game's first at-bat. Charlie Blackmon reached on a routine grounder to second after a soft toss from Joe Panik forced Buster Posey off the base. Starter Jake Peavy's pickoff attempt after Blackmon stole second went errant, so Blackmon advanced to third and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Justin Morneau. Three innings later, things really got ugly for the Giants.

Drew Stubbs reached base and was awarded second after a wild throw from Brandon Crawford landed in the Colorado dugout. According to manager Bruce Bochy, Crawford tried to do too much when he committed another error one batter later, which allowed Stubbs to advance to third. Peavy then balked on a Morneau steal attempt, which scored Stubbs.

"I was just picking my leg up; Morneau couldn't have timed it any better. As I was picking my leg up, he was starting to go," said Peavy, who allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits and struck out five in seven innings. "You're going to home plate and then you hear 'Step off,' and I tried to hop off the back of the mound.

"Crazy night, all the way around."

A sacrifice fly by Corey Dickerson later in the inning gave the Rockies the lead. Four innings in, the Giants had four errors, which tied a season high. The blunders gave Crawford 20 errors on the season, most in the Majors among shortstops.

"It was a little awkward," Bochy said of the early struggles, which he said were the most disturbing of the handful of disheartening happenings Monday night.

When it was all said and done, Bochy was ejected, Peavy was nearly tossed for a second consecutive game, and the Giants' lead on the Braves for the NL's second Wild Card spot was slashed to a half-game.

"We certainly could've been better all the way around tonight, starting with me," Peavy said. "Frustrating night, for sure."

Even against an injury-depleted Rockies team, four errors and a balked-in run are hard to overcome. Especially when the Giants' offense isn't much prettier, which was the case Monday.

A Posey single scored Angel Pagan to tie the game at 1 in the first, and Andrew Susac hit a home run where home runs rarely go inside AT&T Park -- into the center-field bleachers -- to give the Giants a 2-1 lead in the second.

Rockies lefty Tyler Matzek -- who entered the game with a 5.38 ERA -- held the Giants to those two runs in seven innings. The Giants were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Never were those shortcomings more apparent than in the bottom of the fourth, when Michael Morse hit a one-out triple but was stranded at third.

With the loss, the Giants are now just 10-24 in their last 34 home games, and the Rockies have won a franchise-best four consecutive games in San Francisco.

"Overall just not a well-played game," Bochy said, "and it caught up with us."

The same will be said about these losses to the Rockies if the Giants fail to qualify for October.

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