The last Sunday in August belonged to Noah Lowry, fittingly. A personal four-game win streak spanning this month with just two earned runs to his name in that stretch gave the Giants a swagger to back up ace Jason Schmidt's seven inning, one run effort on Saturday. With the air-tight pitching both teams had going on this weekend Sunday's contest came as a surprise to nobody.
Lowry faced Mets right-hander Kris Benson, who came off a horrific outing against Washington where he only went .2 of an inning and allowed six runs. Despite the up-and-down nature of his season—and his career—Benson is known for being a pitcher who's hard to beat when he's on top of his game. For five innings he was on top of his game, and stayed on top of the Giants when his team scored the first run of the afternoon.
That run was an interesting one, because it proved Lowry's dominance since the All-Star Break. The Mets big bats barely touched him. David Wright, who said hello to Friday's starter Kevin Correia with a blast deep into the left-field bleachers good for the only run of the game, managed a single off Lowry in his first at-bat in the second inning, and Carlos Beltran collected the hardest hit against the Giants lefty, doubling to deep center to lead off the sixth inning. After that it was Lowry's own doing to give the Mets the lead. Wright's grounder to short allowed Beltran to advance to third base, and left-fielder Chris Woodward stepped in to give Lowry a hard time.
A nine-pitch at bat, the longest of Lowry's afternoon, ended in a swinging strikeout. Lowry's new arsenal includes a sharp curveball that's popping eyes. This one popped away from Matheny and Beltran took advantage of it, scoring from third. Woodward took first on the wild pitch, and Lowry quickly found himself in a tight spot. Victor Diaz singled to right field, and the luck of the Giants seemed to be creeping in like the fog over SBC at night. The joke turned out to be on the non-believers because Lowry fought back to retire the next two Mets, Ramon Castro swinging at strike three and Kaz Matsui on a fielder's choice to shortstop Omar Vizquel. After he escaped relatively unscathed Lowry had a hug for Vizquel.
Lowry's teammates had a little something for him. JT Snow drove a pitch into the arcade to tie it up in the bottom of the sixth inning, and following Moises Alou's fly out Ray Durham walked. Pedro Feliz turned on the first pitch he saw and sent it over the wall in left to put the Giants ahead. The Giants would put another run on the board with some run manufacturing. Randy Winn led off the seventh inning with a single and teased Mets reliever Heath Bell into throwing over to first. The fifth toss to the bag nearly caught Winn sleeping, and another instance of questionable umpiring turned out to benefit the Giants. For the second Sunday in a row the wrong call was the right call. First baseman Miguel Cairo tagged Winn out on the throw over but first base umpire Brian Onora ruled Winn safe. It proved to be huge because he stole second and later scored on Snow's single, beating the tag with a great sweeping slide.
Celebrating the starters for a job well done is just fine, but without a solid bullpen to close these games out where would this series stand? Armando Benitez stepped back into the role the Giants paid him for. Taking the ball in the ninth, he wrapped it up for Lowry with two quick strikeouts and a pop up to Durham, making the single he allowed to Matsui moot. The Giants said goodbye to the weekend and the month with three excellent pitching performances in a row. They take this momentum into a three-game series against Colorado, where top prospect Matt Cain makes his Major League debut in the opener against the Rockies Monday night at SBC Park.
SFDugout's Player of the Game: Seems in his every start these days Noah Lowry earns the mantle of Player of the Game. In addition to his eight-inning masterpiece on the mound, he was on base twice with a single and reached on a fielder's choice. The new addition to his repertoire, the curve, makes his signature change-up an even better pitch, and gives him a lot more to work with. Lowry isn't just a pitcher, he's an athlete. Lowry's line for August reads 5-0 with a 0.69 ERA, matching the excitement he generated when he was called up last August to steal hearts and blow opposing hitters away through the end of the season. That unbeaten streak lasted into the beginning of the 2005 season.
Game notes: Addition by subtraction is sweeping Giants nation, and not just in the pitching staff. As reported by SFDugout.com, after Saturday's game outfielder Michael Tucker was traded to Philadelphia for a minor league pitching prospect. Jason Ellison was called up from AAA Fresno to fill his roster spot but the team must wait ten days before recalling a player that was sent down. He started in centerfield for the Grizzlies and went 0-for-4. He'll rejoin the team Monday…Due to this rule, the Giants fielded a twenty-four man roster Sunday. In some minds, a tribute to the greatest Giant of them all, Willie Mays…This weekend marked a first in the world of umpiring. Brothers Tim and Bill Welke served on the same umpiring squad for the series, with younger brother Bill behind the plate today. Big brother Tim called balls and strikes in Friday's tilt.
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.
The views expressed in the columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the site's publisher, writers, or other staff members. The content on this site may not be redistributed without the expressed consent of SFDugout.com.