Rewind: Giants At Pirates, Game #2

If April showers bring May flowers, then the Giants should be expecting a rose garden after enduring the storm that was their first month of the season. San Francisco closed out April with a positive record (12-11), riding the wave of a season-high four-game winning streak, despite losing nine of 13 games prior to their current run.

“It’s a long season of putting together streaks,” San Francisco catcher Mike Matheny said. “Right now, we’re just trying to win day-by-day and not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but play with the kind of baseball we can.”

Manager Felipe Alou exercised the option of using as many relievers as he can – sparing only recently called-up Scott Munter – to hold off the Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday evening, 7-6, at PNC Park.

Alou changed pitchers seven times in relief of starter Noah Lowry, who managed to pitch just 4 1/3 innings of six-hit ball, allowing four earned runs before his departure.

Deivi Cruz kicked off the scoring in the top of the first with a two-run blast off Pirates starter Dave Williams (1-3) to give the Giants an early 2-0 lead.

Each of San Francisco’s first four batters contributed two hits apiece, giving the bullpen a 7-5 lead to hold in the seventh inning.

Alou then used his wizardry of pitching changes to mix and match relievers, before finally handing over the reins to Jim Brower to close out the game.

“Felipe, God Bless Him; He definitely knows how to manage,” Giants color commentator Mike Krukow said. “It’s creative, to say the least. The success he’s had with (pitching changes) speaks for itself.”

The countless calls to the bullpen turned out positive for Alou and his Giants this time around as Brower retired four batters to notch his first save of the season and the fifth of his career.

When asked if Brower has emerged as the fill-in closer for injured stopper Armando Benitez, Matheny said: “I think it’s going to be a situation where guys will be given opportunities and it’s just a matter of them capitalizing.

“That’s exactly what Jim did tonight,” Matheny continued. “He came in and did a great job.”

Tyler Walker did a great job of his own by picking up the win in relief. Walker (2-0) retired two batters to get the Giants out of a jam in the fifth inning.

“We’ll take any of them we can right now,” Matheny said. “It’s just a matter of getting something rolling.”

The G-Men hope to keep their winning streak rolling Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh as they wrap up their first and only trip to PNC Park this season.

San Francisco has not announced a starting pitcher for Sunday’s contest, but all indications point to them calling up right-hander Brad Hennessey, who has been pitching superbly at Triple-A Fresno. The non-used Munter figures to get the demotion.

The Pirates will send up their third left-hander in a row in Oliver Perez, who is struggling thus far at 1-2, with a 6.41 ERA. Giants fans can catch the game live on Fox Sports Bay Area at 10:35 a.m. player of the game:
Jim Brower and the cast of thousands from the Giants bullpen. With the news of Armando Benitez going down, San Francisco has to get a boost from its relief corps. So far, so good.

Game Notes:
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig asked the Player’s Union to agree to a 50-game suspension for first-time steroid offenders and a lifetime ban for a third violation under what he called a ``three strikes and you are out approach'' to doping. Donald Fehr said the union will “respond in due course,” with an anticipated response by early next week. … Jason Ellison continued his hot hitting by going 2-for-5, with two runs scored. He’s batting .591 as a starter (13-for-22). … Pedro Feliz has started all 23 games to start the season, hitting safely in 20 contests.

Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.

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