Rewind: Giants vs. Reds, Game #3

Emergency starter Jonathan Sanchez shines, as the Giants take the rubber match against the Reds on Wednesday. After taking two of the three game series, San Francisco moves past the Reds in the NL wild card race.

After scheduled starter Noah Lowry was a late scratch due to a sore pitching elbow, Jonathan Sanchez stepped in and won his first major league start. Ray Durham continued his amazing season by providing most of the offense with two home runs, as the Giants beat the Reds 3-2 Wednesday.

The Giants got on the board first Wednesday, when Shea Hillenbrand hit a sacrifice fly off Reds' starter Sun-Woo Kim to make a 1-0 game. Durham then clobbered a homer into the right field seats in the second inning to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. San Francisco starter Sanchez, who was making his first big league start after 22 relief appearances earlier this year, was cruising until the bottom of the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Norris Hopper finally got the Reds on the board, when he singled in Edwin Encarnacion to make it a 2-1 game.

Durham then hit his second jack of the game in the top of the sixth inning to give San Francisco a 3-1 lead. The homer, which came off Reds' reliever Ryan Franklin, was Durham's 23rd of the year, adding to his already career-high total. After back-to-back strikeouts, Sanchez allowed an Adam Dunn single in the bottom of the sixth, which prompted manager Felipe Alou to go to his bullpen. Sanchez finished with a line of just one run allowed over 5 2/3 innings. He surrendered only three hits, two walks and struck out seven. While Noah Lowry is expected to be able to make his next start, Sanchez figures to get more opportunities in the starting rotation throughout September, especially after Wednesday's fine performance.

Reliever Kevin Correia kept the game 3-1 until a Royce Clayton eighth inning double knocked in Ryan Freel to bring the Reds to within one run. Steve Kline then entered and struck out the only batter he faced. Vinnie Chulk followed with a walk and then an inning-ending fly out to keep the game 3-2 entering the ninth.

After the Giants failed to add to their lead in the top of the ninth, Mike Stanton came on to try to close the game out. Stanton did so with ease, tossing a perfect frame to give the Giants a 3-2 victory over the Reds. With Armando Benitez still sidelined with arthritic knees, Stanton has filled in more than capably. In fact, Wednesday's save was his fourth in the last five days. Since joining San Francisco, Stanton has a 3.55 ERA and an impressive 12/4 K/BB ratio over 15 2/3 innings. Despite losing their original starting pitcher and resting five of the regulars on offense, the Giants pulled off a huge win to remain in the tightly contested playoff race.

Notes: Lowry's elbow injury is not ligament-related, and he expects to make his next start... Randy Winn was held out of the lineup for the second day in a row because of a sore elbow... Barry Bonds, Moises Alou, Pedro Feliz and Omar Vizquel all received routine off days.

SFDugout's Player of the Game: While Ray Durham's two-homer game powered the offense, Jonathan Sanchez gets the nod for giving the Giants such a solid start despite little time to prepare. Sanchez looked like he belonged in the starter's role and figures to be a fixture in the rotation for years to come.



Dalton can be reached at seven3d@aol.com for any complaints, questions or preferably, compliments.

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