The San Francisco Giants have never won three straight games in Oakland.
Matt Cain could change that.
Cain will try to become the first Giants pitcher in 60 years to win nine consecutive starts Sunday when the Bay Bridge Series concludes.
Limited to six runs while losing six straight in Oakland prior to this series, San Francisco (40-32) has scored 14 total runs in the last two contests to clinch the season series.
After rallying with four ninth-inning runs in Friday's 5-4 victory, the Giants hung on for a 9-8 victory Saturday after the A's scored four in the ninth."To come away with a win when you're on the ropes like that, it's big," manager Bruce Bochy said. "This would have been hard to take."
San Francisco finishes its nine-game trip - and goes for its first sweep in Oakland since a two-game set June 22-23, 1998 - with Cain (9-2, 2.34 ERA) trying to become the franchise's first pitcher to win nine straight starts since Sal Maglie from April 16-May 27, 1952, when the team was based in New York.
One start removed from throwing baseball's 22nd perfect game, Cain was far from perfect in a 5-3 road win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday when he walked a season-high four and surrendered three runs in five innings."I'd say it was a gutty effort," Bochy said after Cain became the team's first pitcher since Rick Reuschel in 1989 to win eight consecutive starts. "I'm sure he felt the residuals from his last start. He had to. .... He's relentless out there. He just keeps grinding, and he got a win out of it."
Since throwing a one-hitter in a 6-0 victory May 21, 2006, Cain is 0-2 with a 1.69 ERA in his last three starts in Oakland (34-38), with the Giants scoring three total runs during those contests.
San Francisco has averaged 5.8 runs during Cain's current winning streak.
Right-hander Brandon McCarthy was slated to start the series finale for Oakland, but he has been scratched due to recurring shoulder soreness."It seems like the last two weeks have been as mentally harrowing as I've had to deal with in my career," he said. "I feel miserable. I'm obsessing over the pain. I feel like I've done everything I could do but there are so few answers right now. The frustration level has gone off the charts."
Instead of trying to stop McCarthy from winning his seventh straight decision, the Giants will now face A.J. Griffin in his major league debut.
The right-hander, a 13th-round pick out of the University of San Diego in 2010, went 3-2 with a 2.81 ERA at Triple-A Sacramento this season.
Griffin should be careful pitching to first baseman Brandon Belt , who is 3 for 5 with a home run and five RBIs in this series and is batting .441 (15 for 34) with four homers and 12 RBIs during a career-best 11-game hitting streak."It's more a feel for me," Belt said. "It's been a lot of hard work in the cage."
A's outfielder Josh Reddick has homered in three straight games against the Giants. He hit a two-run shot in a 6-2 victory May 20 that helped Oakland salvage the finale of a three-game set at San Francisco.
Reddick has never faced Cain.
|San Francisco Giants|
|June 14, 2012||Aubrey Huff||Day-to-Day||Sprained right knee|
|June 11, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|June 07, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right hamstring|
|June 02, 2012||Santiago Casilla||Day-to-Day||Bruised knee|
|May 16, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left toe|
|May 16, 2012||Joaquin Arias||Day-to-Day||Left forearm contusion|
|June 17, 2012||Bartolo Colon||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|June 13, 2012||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|June 06, 2012||Andrew Carignan||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|June 02, 2012||Jemile Weeks||Day-to-Day||Mild hip strain|
|May 31, 2012||Jordan Norberto||15-Day DL||Strained left shoulder|
|May 31, 2012||Jordan Norberto||15-Day DL||Strained left shoulder|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Derek Norris will have a hard time topping his first major league home run celebration.
Norris hit a three-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning for his first career home run, and the Oakland Athletics walked off with a stunning 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.
"It's something I'll never forget," Norris said.
Norris hammered a full-count pitch from Santiago Casilla (1-3) over the left-field wall to help the A's avoid the first three-game sweep by San Francisco in Oakland. A's players streamed out of the dugout in those bright gold uniforms to mob Norris at home plate and turn the infield into one big blur.
The new A's catcher flicked off his helmet and spread his arms out wide before touching home. He later took a pie to the face, then water and a sports drink in succession from teammates in a chaotic cluster that left a mound-size stain on the dirt near Oakland's dugout.
Almost as big as the mark Norris made in his Bay Bridge Series introduction.
"The pie not so good," Norris said, laughing. "My eyes are still trying to come back. Actually, I can only see about half of you right now. It's a good feeling. I wouldn't trade it for the world."
The homer handed Casilla his second blown save in 22 chances this season in place of bearded closer Brian Wilson . The ending also washed away San Francisco starter Matt Cain 's bid for a ninth straight win.
"Not now," Casilla said, declining to speak to reporters.
Jim Miller (2-0) pitched 1 1-3 hitless innings for the victory.
Buster Posey 's two-run homer in the first was all the Giants could squeeze out against A.J. Griffin, who retired 16 of the next 18 batters he faced in his major league debut. Griffin gave up three hits, one walk and struck out four in six-plus innings.
Not bad for a guy A's manager Bob Melvin didn't even recognize when he showed up in his office from Triple-A Sacramento before the game.
"That's got to be the thrill of a lifetime," Griffin said after his former minor league teammate's homer. "You can't expect to have your first home run a walkoff, let alone against the rival Giants from across the Bay."
Or match a pitcher only two starts removed from a perfect game.
Cain allowed three hits and two walks, and struck out seven in seven innings. He was spared a potential two-run double by Seth Smith in the sixth inning that was called foul. Replays appeared to show that the ball landed fair.
Oakland overcame all that and more.
Jeremy Affeldt wiggled out of a jam in the eighth, pumping his fist and kicking his legs after getting Josh Reddick to ground into a double play. Casilla seemed ready to do the same in the ninth until Norris ended those hopes with one swing.
The rally started with Yoenis Cespedes ' leadoff single. Casilla struck out Smith, but Brandon Inge also singled before Casilla struck out Brandon Moss .
On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Norris hit a towering drive over the high wall in left. He put his hands in the air as the A's turned the infield into a gathering of gold.
What a dramatic way for the Bay Bridge Series to end.
San Francisco scored four runs in the ninth to rally for a 5-4 victory on Friday night. Oakland almost pulled off an even more impressive comeback Saturday, scoring five runs in the ninth before falling just short in a 9-8 loss.
"I knew it was out," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "This one they got to walk off. You live with the ups and downs of the game. We got the first two."
Both starting pitchers provided some stability to a series that had little of it for most of the weekend.
Griffin, a 24-year-old player from the San Diego area selected by the A's in the 13th round of the 2010 draft, retired 13 straight batters before Posey walked to open the seventh. Griffin trotted off the mound to a roaring ovation from a rare sellout of 36,067 fans at Oakland Coliseum.
About the only other thing that had the home fans riled up before the finish was a contested call.
With two outs and runners on first and second, Smith lined a full-count pitch by Cain down the right-field line that first base umpire Todd Tichenor called foul. Smith put his hands on his helmet and shook his head in disgust, and Melvin came running out of the dugout to protest.
A zoomed-in replay appeared to show the ball land on the chalk, which would have likely given the Athletics a 3-2 lead. Instead, after Melvin argued for several minutes, Smith fouled out to left on the 12th pitch of the at-bat.
NOTES: Oakland placed opening day starter Brandon McCarthy (shoulder strain) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday, called up reliever Evan Scribner , and optioned infielder Eric Sogard to Triple-A Sacramento before the game. ... Hector Sanchez will catch LHP Barry Zito (5-5, 4.35 ERA) on Monday when the Giants face RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-3, 2.35 ERA) and the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Francisco. Giants manager Bruce Bochy had flirted with the idea of keeping Posey behind the plate instead of Sanchez, who has caught Zito most of the season.
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