Surging Giants move into second place

Surging Giants move into second place

LOS ANGELES -- The Giants have changed since the last time they faced the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Monday night's result differed, too. It was a 5-2 San Francisco victory, fueled mainly by performers who either were struggling to find a role or struggling, period, when the Dodgers swept the Giants in three games at the end of June.

The decision enabled the Giants to vault into second place in the National League West, four games behind idle San Diego, and lengthened Los Angeles' losing streak to five.

More important from the Giants' perspective, the triumph interrupted their futility against the Dodgers. San Francisco improved to 2-5 against its archrival, snapped the Dodgers' four-game winning streak in the season series and hiked its record against NL West foes to a still-unacceptable 10-20.

The difference for the Giants, who have won six of their last seven games and 10 of 12, could be traced to a combination of characters that the Dodgers found mostly unfamiliar.

Madison Bumgarner (3-2), who didn't pitch during the Dodgers' three-game sweep of the Giants June 28-30, won his third consecutive start with 5 2/3 gutty innings. The rookie left-hander worked just one 1-2-3 inning but permitted nothing but singles among the six hits he allowed except for Rafael Furcal's sixth-inning home run.

"When he went to the cutter [and] slider he had, those were really effective for him," Dodgers left fielder Jamey Carroll said of Bumgarner.

"He wasn't as sharp tonight. But that's a good sign," Giants catcher Buster Posey said.

As usual, Posey was an essential part of the remodeled Giants. Posey, who didn't claim a truly regular role until the Bengie Molina trade became official on July 1, keyed San Francisco's two-run third inning by lining a two-out RBI single. Posey, whose 13-game hitting streak is currently the longest in the Major Leagues, scored on a double by Pablo Sandoval, who has floundered most of the season but is 8-for-17 during a five-game hitting streak.

"There's no question that he has been swinging better since the All-Star break," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Sandoval. "He's staying back and swinging with a lot of confidence."

Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz, whose playing time has increased as the Giants have attempted to establish a left-handed-hitting presence, singled and homered, respectively, to provide the stand-up runs in the fourth.

For good measure, the Giants vanquished any demons that might have remained from their 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Mets on Sunday, when Ishikawa scored the winning run that wasn't.

"After yesterday's deal, we didn't let that affect us," left-hander Jeremy Affeldt said.

Nor did the Giants let Los Angeles' frequent offensive pressure bother them. The Dodgers loaded the bases in the seventh inning, but Affeldt marooned the runners as he retired the dangerous Andre Ethier on a grounder to first base.

"There's not a lot of room for error with him," said Affeldt, who prompted Ethier to chase an inside fastball. "I don't have a lot of options."

Appearing for the fourth day in a row, Brian Wilson pitched himself in and out of trouble in the ninth by loading the bases with two outs before striking out Casey Blake on three pitches. Wilson secured his 26th save in 28 tries.

"That's Giants baseball," Bochy said dryly after watching Wilson bring the potential winning run to the plate. "You have to deal with it, I guess."

This was the same Blake who mocked Wilson's cross-armed, end-of-game celebration last year, briefly upsetting the Giants' relief ace.

Asked if he derived extra motivation from his history against Blake, Wilson, who blew a 97-mph fastball by the Dodgers third baseman for strike three, brushed off the question. "I don't have a history with anybody," Wilson said.

The younger Giants wouldn't mind enriching their history against the Dodgers by adding their own vivid chapters.

"It's fun to pitch here, with the rivalry and everything," Bumgarner said. "I'd like to have a little better game, but I'm happy with it for a first start in L.A. It should be fun for years to come."

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.