San Francisco Giants

Giants can catch Dodgers atop West tonight, but must solve Greinke

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the Giants to pull even with the Dodgers atop the N.L. West tonight and match their longest home winning streak since moving to AT&T Park in 2000, they’ll have to accomplish a first tonight: Win a game started by Zack Greinke.

Greinke, the Dodgers right-hander, has made five career starts against the Giants, all in the last three years, and gone 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. His team has won all five starts. That included his last start at AT&T Park on July 25, when Greinke shut the Giants out for seven innings on four hits in an 8-1 Dodgers win.

As the opener of this series indicated, though, this is a Giants team playing much better and different baseball than the team the Dodgers swept here in late July. They again got contributions from throughout the lineup Friday, including three RBIs apiece from No. 8 hitter Brandon Crawford and pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa.

Ishikawa hit a three-run home run pinch-hitting for Madison Bumgarner in the seventh, making him 14-for-39 with two homers and 12 RBIs in his last 20 games. Ishikawa has had regular playing time at first base -- manager Bruce Bochy said Friday night Ishikawa is the Giants’ "best first baseman" right now with Brandon Belt still inactive -- but he’s also 7-for-20 with six RBIs as a pinch-hitter, his likely role when Belt returns.

Bochy today said Ishikawa has "that calmness about him," that makes him an effective pinch-hitter, and expanded when asked what separates Ishikawa now from the player who came up in the Giants organization and debuted at the age of 22 in 2006.

"I think it’s more the attitude, that he just seems like he’s really having fun now," Bochy said. "He’s just enjoying his role."

Contributing to important wins certainly helps. With the right-hander Greinke starting tonight, Ishikawa is in the lineup at first base. Here’s the full Giants lineup:

CF Pagan

2B Panik

C Posey

3B Sandoval

RF Pence

LF Blanco

1B Ishikawa

SS Crawford

P Hudson

And the Dodgers’ lineup against Giants right-hander Tim Hudson:

2B Gordon

CF Puig

1B Gonzalez

RF Kemp

SS Ramirez

LF Crawford

3B Uribe

C Ellis

P Greinke

* Before batting practice this afternoon, the Giants all headed out to the portwalk beyond the right-field wall for the unveiling of a plaque on the "History Walk" commemorating Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter against the Padres in June. It’s the 23rd such plaque on the walk and the second recognizing Lincecum -- the first was for his 14-strikeout game against the Braves in the 2010 N.L. Division Series (his first no-hitter was on the road).

It was a brief ceremony, with Mike Krukow emceeing and Lincecum, Hector Sanchez (who caught the no-hitter) and a couple other teammates pulling a black cover off the plaque to cheers from a small group of fans. Lincecum thanked those fans for being on hand and said: "To be out here on this portwalk and have something commemorated to me … is something special."

"There’s a lot of history with this franchise and Timmy’s made a lot of history here," said Bochy. "It’s going to be out there to everybody in our lifetime and more."

* Brandon Belt resumed normal baseball activities today. He’s scheduled to run sprints tomorrow, Bochy said, with the possibility of heading to Arizona early next week to get at-bats in some instructional league games. Bochy said the team hasn’t made the call on whether Belt will do that or get at-bats in a simulated setting against Giants pitchers, but expects to have a decision tomorrow or Monday.

* Michael Morse is "making improvement" from his oblique strain, running, hitting off a tee and taking ground balls, but isn’t ready for live batting practice yet, Bochy said. "My hope is Monday or Tuesday he’ll be there."

* Hudson still needs one more win to record his 14th season of double-digit victories. He has been at nine since beating the Washington Nationals on Aug. 22.

Hudson has a high standard to uphold tonight. In the Giants’ last 10 games at home, their starters have gone 8-0 with a 0.88 ERA in 72 innings. According to the Giants’ pre-game notes, citing the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team whose starters had at least eight wins and an ERA that low in a 10-game span was the 1980 Astros.

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