By Matt Johnson

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Tim Lincecum was sharp for the first five innings, but he lost command of his slider  in the 6th and the Dodgers took advantage scoring 3 runs and took a 4-2 lead that ended up deciding the game. Clayton Kershaw made one mistake in the 4th but pitched 8 strong innings to send the Dodgers to a season best fifth straight win and a home sweep of the rival Giants.

Kershaw gave up two runs, both coming off a 2-run home run by Buster Posey in the 4th but rolled through the rest of the Giants lineup in Wednesday night.  He gave up four hits and one walk, with two of the hits given up to Posey. Kershaw struck out seven in the game and had a chance to pick up the complete game but was pulled after allowing a leadoff single to Marco Scutaro in the 9th. Kenley Jansen came in to close things out and gave up a single to Posey but settled in retiring the next three batters including strike outs against Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval. Kershaw improved to (6-5) on the season and saw his ERA drop to 2.08.

It was a much different story for Tim Lincecum who came in to tonight’s game throwing two straight quality starts, but the quality wasn’t there tonight. Lincecum tied a season high with ten hits allowed and allowing four runs in five innings. After retiring Adrian Gonzalez to lead off the 6th, Lincecum then allowed a single to Hanley Ramirez who stole second and that was followed by an RBI single from Andre Ethier followed by a stolen base for Ethier. Baserunners have attempted fourteen steals off Lincecum and all fourteen have been successful  as Andrew Baggarly pointed out tonight. A.J. Ellis followed that up with an RBI double and Juan Uribe added a single, with the final run scoring after a wild pitch by Lincecum. The 6th inning proved to be the nail in the coffin for San Francisco who led 2-1 before the Dodgers rally. Lincecum record now drops to (4-8) on the year and his ERA rose to 4.64. The bullpen played well in the final innings. Javier Lopez, Jose Mijares and Jake Dunning were perfect while Sandy Rosario gave up two hits and recorded two outs.

While the Dodgerss season begins to turn around and creep closer to .500, the Giants continue to fall and now sit two games below .500 near the end of June. They also are now closer to last in the division (3 GB) than they are of 1st (3.5 GB). San Francisco has a day off tomorrow as they fly out to Colorado for a 3-game series while the Dodgers will stay at home for a four game series against the Phillies. The Giants and Dodgers will meet again in just a week then the Dodgers play in San Francisco for a three game series from July 5-7.

MV-Puig

While it may be a stretch to start putting Yasiel Puig in the National League Most Valuable Player discussion, the 22-year-old outfielder has been sensational since the Dodgers called him up on June 3rd. In his first 21 games, Puig has hit seven home runs, drove in 14 RBI’s and is hitting .429 in just his first professional month in the majors. But Puig hasn’t done it just with the bat, he has brought new life to the Dodgers who have now won five straight games. He certainly came to play against the Dodgers rival and became a “Giants-killer” immediately in the first game of the series when he homered off Madison Bumgarner and the game deciding run later in the game. While he went hitless last night, he responded tonight with another multi-hit game. You still see some rookie mistakes from Puig, including tonight in the 5th when he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double on a ball that wasn’t hit very deep to left. Despite the rookie lapses, there is no denying Yasiel Puig is quickly becoming one of the next young stars in the game. Bruce Bochy said earlier this month that he wouldn’t add Puig to the roster, but perhaps watching him in person will change his mind.

Giant Fall:

As the Giants head off to Colorado to take on the Rockies, the team will have plenty of thinking to do on their off on Thursday. The team has lost four straight games and now sits two games below .500 as they head off for their final series in June. There is plenty of finger pointing to go around, you could look at the bullpen which has blown three leads the past two weeks, two from set-up man Jeremy Affeldt and another from closer Sergio Romo. The three blown saves prove to be even more significant when you look at the standings and the team sits 3.5 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks. You can also place some blame on the lineup, who have scored three runs or fewer in six of their past ten games.  The Giants have dealt with injuries in the top of their lineup, while Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval missed two weeks and Marco Scutaro missed six games as well. Fortunately for San Francisco, Sandoval and Scutaro are back which Bruce Bochy hopes should provide a spark to the Giants offense. The biggest issue for San Francisco though is their lack of patience at the plate, where many of their hitters seem to hack at the first and second pitches and not getting the opposing pitcher’s pitch count up. A lack of patience has resulted in San Francisco ranking 21st in the majors in BB’s (202). Plate discipline hasn’t been the only issue for the Giants, they also have struggled when they have runners on base.  San Francisco is 25th in the majors with 69 grounded into double plays. For a team that is coming off two world series championships in the past three years, the numbers simply aren’t getting it done. When you combine the exhausted bullpen with the offensive struggles and 53 errors committed, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this team is below .500 and heading to the cellar of the NL West. This is essentially the same team that won a world series last year so they can turn it around, but things are not looking good for the defending champs.

Posey’s Backup:

Buster Posey flipped over to first base tonight against the Dodgers and appears to have broken out of his slump, hitting a home run for the second game in a row and he went 3 for 4 on the night. The Giants will have an off day tomorrow which will give Posey 48 hours off from playing catcher, but more questions arose from tonight’s game.. The Giants have Hector Sanchez and Guillermo Quiroz splitting time as the backup catcher, but tonight again proved neither player are even remotely major league backup catchers. Sanchez struggled last year defensively and it has been something that he has struggled with throughout his young career, but his hot bat kept him in the majors in 2012. Now a year later Hector has gone cold and has become a negative for the Giants, with opposing teams stealing off of him with ease. Quiroz isn’t much better off, after hitting a walk-off home run against the Dodgers back on May 4th, he has only managed 3 hits in 30 at bats since that moment. Quiroz replaced Sanchez in the bottom of the 7th, and if the lineup continues to struggle some may start to wonder if either or both catchers could be sent down to make way for someone like Brett Pill or Johnny Monell. It isn’t something that will hinder the Giants this season, but it certainly is something that may be addressed with help from Fresno.

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