Giants have more goals to tackle

Giants have more goals to tackle

SAN FRANCISCO -- With four games left, including Thursday's home finale against the Arizona D-backs, several Giants still have plenty to play for.

This game almost certainly will mark infielder Rich Aurilia's last appearance as an active player in a Giants uniform and perhaps in the Major Leagues. The 14-year veteran, who has spent all but three years of his career with San Francisco, remains popular with Giants fans, who view him as the last link to the team's highly successful 1997-2004 stretch.

Manager Bruce Bochy smiled coyly and replied, "I don't know yet," when asked if Aurilia would be in Thursday's lineup as a final tribute. Given the reverence with which the Giants treat their veterans, it would be no surprise to see them do something special for Aurilia before the afternoon ends.

Other Giants are pursuing certain statistical standards or hope to improve upon already attractive numbers.

Pablo Sandoval ranked second in the National League with a .329 batting average entering Wednesday. He probably can't catch the leader, Florida's Hanley Ramirez, but he has a definite shot at becoming the Giants' highest finisher in the batting race since Barry Bonds topped the NL with a .362 average in 2004.

Sandoval also began Wednesday with 44 doubles, one behind National League leader Miguel Tejada of Houston. The last Giant to lead the NL in doubles was Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, who had 38 in his rookie season of 1958.

Juan Uribe, the Giants' hottest hitter in September, entered Wednesday hitting .297 and has a shot to finish at .300 for the first time in a full season. Uribe hit exactly .300 in 72 games as a rookie with Colorado in 2001.

Closer Brian Wilson can extend his personal high of 67 appearances. His chief setup man, Jeremy Affeldt, will try to maintain his Major League lead in holds with 33. Affeldt also tops all Major League relievers with 16 double plays induced.

Also, a victory Thursday will help the Giants' bid to post the NL's best home record. They were 50-29 at AT&T Park entering Wednesday, with Colorado (49-30) and Los Angeles (48-30) close behind.

Pitching matchup
SF: RHP Tim Lincecum (14-7, 2.47 ERA)
This is expected to be Lincecum's final start of the season. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner has lost three games in September, more than he has dropped in any calendar month during his brief but successful career. This has happened despite the respectable 3.60 ERA Lincecum has posted in September. Lincecum made back-to-back starts against Arizona in April, pitching eight shutout innings and striking out 13 in a no-decision before yielding one run in eight innings and striking out 12 in a Giants victory.

ARI: RHP Dan Haren (14-9, 3.02 ERA)
Haren will be making the final start of what has been an outstanding season for him. He should easily have more than 14, but he has been done in at times by poor run support and also has watched the bullpen give up some of his wins. In his last outing against the Padres, Haren allowed five runs on nine hits over six innings. All five of the runs came in the fifth inning as the Padres managed six hits and took advantage of some poor defense.

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday to repair a torn meniscus. The injury is not considered serious, and manager Bruce Bochy said that the Giants expect Sanchez to be fully ready for Spring Training. ... After drawing only nine walks in his first 52 games, Sandoval walked 39 times in his past 96 games entering Wednesday, when he coaxed a four-pitch walk in his first plate appearance. ... Despite accumulating just 136 at-bats in 70 games, outfielder Andres Torres leads the Giants with seven triples.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KNBR 680

Up next
• Friday: Giants (Barry Zito, 10-13, 4.10) at Padres (Kevin Correia, 12-10, 3.89), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Giants (Matt Cain, 14-7, 2.88) at Padres (Edward Mujica, 3-5, 3.94), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Giants (Jonathan Sanchez, 8-12, 4.27) at Padres (Cesar Ramos, 0-1, 1.74), 1:05 p.m. PT

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