Baseball / Sports

Banged-up Giants knock off Marlins

SAN FRANCISCO--The San Francisco Giants have a rare day off in Denver on Monday, but it's doubtful any members of the organization will head for the mountains. The clubhouse is full enough of ice as it is.

Bruce Bochy played the part of Giants trainer Sunday morning, running down a list of bumps, bruises, strains and sprains. He then sat back as manager, enjoying a crisp 4-1 win over the Miami Marlins.

There are few Giants running at 100 percent after the most tiring stretch of the season, but the club continues to chug along in first place, three games up on a Colorado Rockies team that's in Denver waiting for a three-game series. The current motto: Continue to grind.

"You have to--there's no other answer to this," right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said. "Losing (Brandon) Belt was a huge blow, but we're better equipped for it than we've been in the past. We've got to keep grinding. If you don't, you're going to be at the bottom looking up real quick."

Even after playing 17 games in 17 days, the Giants remain atop the National League West at 28-17. The news on Day 17 was mostly medical, and the most important update was a positive one. Center fielder Angel Pagan had an MRI on his shoulder a few hours after a painful dive in the outfield Saturday and was pleased with the diagnosis of a sprained AC joint. He is listed as day-to-day.

"I'm not really concerned," said Pagan, who sat out Sunday. "Two days off will be good for me. It's good news. I hope to play Tuesday."

Belt (broken left thumb) flew to Denver with the team and is a few days away from beginning cardio work as he recovers from surgery. Tim Hudson (strained hip) threw about 60 pitches before Sunday's game and remains on track to throw a bullpen session Tuesday and start Thursday. Closer Sergio Romo reported no issues after briefly limping in the ninth while recording his 15th save.

There was even a Marco Scutaro update on a day when the staff could hardly keep the medical records straight. The second baseman traveled to Miami and will have a platelet-rich plasma injection in his bad back on Monday. There remains no timetable for Scutaro's return, just hope that it's coming at some point.

The Giants didn't need hope Sunday, as Vogelsong and surging third baseman Pablo Sandoval carried a heavy load. Both struggled in the season's opening weeks, but Bochy stood by the veterans, saying repeatedly that good times were coming.

Vogelsong threw seven shutout innings and has given up just six earned runs over his past five starts, lowing his ERA to 3.62. Sandoval homered, scored twice and is hitting .389 during a nine-game hitting streak that has upped his average from .171 to .220.

"You have to believe," Vogelsong said when asked if he knew he would recover from the early slump. "If you don't, you're behind the eight-ball to begin with. I read some of the stuff (Bochy) said about Pablo (being fine), and it was true. When they believe in you, it means a lot."

Sandoval was right in the middle of a first-inning push that gave Vogelsong a 3-0 lead. A hit-by-pitch, sacrifice fly and four consecutive two-out singles put a crooked number on Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner. Sandoval hit a solo homer in the fifth to give the Giants a 4-0 lead. It was his first blast since April 13, a stretch of 109 at-bats.

"His at-bats have really picked up," Bochy said. "He has quieted down up there to where he can handle all the pitches. He was lunging before."

While Sandoval has found his swing, Vogelsong has re-established his fastball. He commanded the pitch well Sunday, and had no issues mixing in the rest of his repertoire while giving up just five hits and striking out six.

"He was in command the whole way," Bochy said.

Vogelsong faltered just once. Two fifth-inning singles and a sacrifice bunt put two in scoring position for Adeiny Hechavarria, who hit a hard grounder up the middle. Brandon Crawford's diving stop-and-throw ended the inning and saved two runs in what was at the time a three-run ballgame. Vogelsong joked that it was all part of his game plan.

"Getting ground balls to Crawford, that was the plan," Vogelsong said. "He's pretty good."

Right now, so are the Giants. But they're banged up and headed for a tough series. The confident Rockies have the early MVP leader in Troy Tulowitzki, a deep lineup and the belief that they're in the race for the long haul, every bit as good as the Giants and scuffling Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants sounded ready for the challenge.

"If you're not getting ready for this series, getting up for it, something's wrong," Vogelsong said.

(c)2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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