The San Francisco Giants rolled into Los Angeles following the All-Star Break looking for some wins against their hated rivals, the Dodgers. After back-to-back wins fueled by offensive stars such as Omar Vizquel and his huge 3-run home run on Thursday night and Ray Durhams best offensive game as a Giant (four hits, four runs batted in) on Friday and consecutive solid starting efforts by right-handed ace Jason Schmidt and lefty Noah Lowry, the teams momentum slipped in an ugly 5-4 loss yesterday afternoon.
The formula for those wins worked again today. Right-hander Brad Hennessey built upon his last start, a seven inning dominance of the St. Louis Cardinals, with another strong game. His noticeably different mechanics allow him to pitch more efficiently, and he now has a better time holding runners on. Instead of starting his motion with his hands over his head, Hennessey sets quietly at the chest before he delivers. Today his result was one earned run and four strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings pitched, good for a win. Hennessey also made contact in the seventh inning against Dodger starting pitcher Jeff Weaver with a base hit to right field.
Like in his last start, Hennessey faced another talented young pitcher. Weaver kept pace with his adversary all game. Both starters surrendered only one run. Weavers one mistake was a 2-1 pitch in the fourth inning to Giants second baseman Ray Durham. Durham launched it into the right field bleachers. Hennessey walked Dodger leadoff man Jason Werth in the fifth and allowed him to score on a ball third baseman Oscar Robles smoked to deep centerfield.
Great defense supplemented the solid pitching efforts of the right-handers today. In the seventh inning, Hennessey surrendered back to back hits to Robles and All-Star shortstop Cesar Izturis before manager Felipe Alou called rookie reliever Scott Munter into the game to face former Giant Jeff Kent. With runners on the corners, Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel made the play of the game to get Kent at first. Without making that play, the Dodgers would have gone ahead by a run. Kent returned the favor in the eighth, turning a double play that gracefully killed the Giants scoring threat and kept the score tied. Los Angeles centerfielder Jason Repko made a tremendous diving grab to rob Mike Matheny of a leadoff hit to open the ninth.
The Dodgers and Giants took the game into the ninth inning deadlocked at 1-1. The bullpens threw up zeroes to match the others efforts after Hennessey left in the seventh and Weaver exited in the eighth. Another offense star from the weekend win stepped to the plate with two men on. Following rookie Jason Ellisons ground-rule double to right and Alex Sanchez getting drilled on the upper thigh by new Dodger closer Yhency Brazoban, Giants leadoff hitter Michael Tucker took Brazoban deep to put the Giants ahead 4-3. With his stolen base and single today, Tucker also has two home runs and four runs batted in this series. Tyler Walker was unavailable today, so embattled reliever LaTroy Hawkins was summoned to close it out. He responded to the call by retiring the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the ninth for his first save as a Giant. San Francisco hopes to take the momentum from this series into a six-game home stand against the Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins starting Monday at SBC Park.
SFDugout Player of the Game: Michael Tuckers heroics werent just saved for today. If possible he earned the mantle of Player of the Series. Thrust into the leadoff spot, an unfamiliar role for him, hes made the most of it, and the Giants stand at 3-1 to open the second half of their beleaguered season.
Game notes: Former Giants continue to victimize their old teammates. While Kent had a quiet day (1 for 4 with a double), Ricky Ledee picked up two hits this afternoon. No Giants fan can figure out how Ledee hits well against the club when he was cold as ice the brief time he spent with the Giants in 2004. Hes now 7 for 20 against the Giants Other strange trends of the weekend include difficulties with the umpiring crew, as first baseman JT Snow saw in the sixth inning when he checked his swing on strike two but was called out on the appeal to the third base umpire Ellison added a note to his scouting report when he struck out in fifth inning. It was the second time in the series where Ellison was hit by a pitch while swinging through. Both times he has been called out the Giants are giving away commemorative buttons on Monday nights series opener against Atlanta. The orange baubles celebrate the franchises 10000th win the last time the Giants and Dodgers both had records under .500 was 1992, when Los Angeles went 63-99 and San Francisco went 72-90.
Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 23rd season of fandom and first where she's had the honor to write for the Giants on SFDugout.com. Love/hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.