Pence powers San Francisco to 4-3 win over Dodgers
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES — Brett Pill has been bugging Hunter Pence for hitting tips lately, and for good reason: His Giants teammate has homered in four straight games.
Pill summed up Pence’s advice this way: “I just try to kill the ball.”
Did he ever against the Dodgers.
Pence hit two more homers, Pill connected for a tiebreaking shot leading off the eighth inning, and San Francisco Giants beat Los Angeles 4-3 on Sunday.
Pence said he simply told Pill, “I try to see the ball and hit it as hard as I can. Then he gets all mad at me.”
Pence got his revenge when Pill hit the second pinch-hit homer of his career.
“I couldn’t wait to ask him what was he thinking,” Pence said, laughing.
Pence has 19 RBIs in six games, the most for a Giants player in that span since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, according to information provided to the Giants by the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone that hot,” Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong said.
Pence became the first Giants player to homer in four consecutive games since Barry Bonds from September 2005. Pence drove in three runs, a day after his grand slam and career-high seven RBIs led the Giants to a 19-3 rout at Dodger Stadium.
“It’s fun to watch when you see a good hitter locked in,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Pence piled up the most RBIs in a series against the Dodgers since 1935, when Ripper Collins of St. Louis had 13 during a five-game set.
“It was pretty tough to see out there, the sun is bright,” Pence said. “I just block out anything that has happened (before). Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of hits and some good fortune. Yesterday, I had two bloopers.”
The Dodgers rallied in the ninth, but pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig grounded out with the bases loaded to end the game. The NL West leaders lost three of four to San Francisco, and the magic number to clinch their first division title since 2009 remained at four after second-place Arizona won.
“We’re definitely looking for the clincher,” first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “We wish we would have been able to do it here at home, but getting it is the most important thing and getting our guys healthy.”
Pence joined Willie Mays as the only players in Giants history to homer in every game of a four-game set against the Dodgers, which Mays did twice. Pence’s five homers tied for the most ever in a series against the Dodgers, tying Philadelphia’s Mike Schmidt in 1979 (four games) and Pittsburgh’s Frank Thomas in 1958 (five games).
“If I’m mentioned with these names, it’s extremely humbling,” Pence said.
Jean Machi (3-1) pitched one inning. Sergio Romo closed for his 35th save in 39 chances.
Paco Rodriguez (3-3) gave up Pill’s homer.
Pence homered leading off the second for a 1-0 lead.
“We’re all kind of feeding off him, getting aggressive swinging the ball, having no fear,” Pill said.
The Giants tied it at 3 with two outs in the sixth on Pence’s two-run shot. Brandon Belt singled and moved up on a wild pitch by Edinson Volquez before Pence hit his 25th homer.
“That’s one guy you really don’t want to be leaving the ball up to at all,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Volquez didn’t execute a couple of pitches and he made us pay.”
CARDS 12, MARINERS 2
ST. LOUIS — Yadier Molina broke out of a slump with a home run and three singles as Shelby Miller and St. Louis remained tied for first place in the NL Central by beating Seattle in an interleague matchup.
Matt Adams also homered as St. Louis won for the seventh time in nine games and kept pace with Pittsburgh. Both teams are 87-62 with 13 games remaining.
Miller (14-9) gave up one earned run and three hits in five innings. He became the first St. Louis rookie to reach 14 wins in a season since Dick Hughes won 16 in 1967.
Molina’s second-inning homer off Erasmo Ramirez (5-2) snapped an 0-for-15 skid. Molina scored three times and raised his batting average to .317.
PIRATES 3, CUBS 2
PITTSBURGH — Francisco Liriano took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before faltering in his first no-decision this season, and pinch-hitter Justin Morneau singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth Sunday to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Chicago Cubs 3-2.
Pittsburgh remained tied with St. Louis for the NL Central lead after taking three of four from the last-place Cubs and winning for the sixth time in seven games.
Morneau, acquired from Minnesota on Aug. 31, drove in his first run for the Pirates. The 2006 AL MVP is batting .279 (12 for 43) with Pittsburgh.
With the score 2-2 in the eighth, Andrew McCutchen was hit by a pitch from Pedro Strop (2-2), took second on Marlon Byrd’s bloop single to center and scored on Morneau’s single.
NATIONALS 11, PHILS 2
WASHINGTON — Wilson Ramos had four hits and five RBIs, Jordan Zimmermann pitched seven innings for his NL-best 18th win and Washington kept up its late playoff push by routing Philadelphia.
Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 26 games, Bryce Harper hit a pair of doubles and a single and scored three times, and every player in the Nationals’ starting lineup had at least one hit.
Washington, which began the day 5½ games behind Cincinnati for the NL’s second wild-card berth, has won eight of nine and 25 of 35.
Zimmerman (18-8) scattered seven hits and single runs in the second and third innings with seven strikeouts.
D-BACKS 8, ROCKIES 2
PHOENIX — Paul Goldschmidt homered and went 4 for 4, driving in career high-tying five runs to lead Arizona past Colorado.
Colorado star Todd Helton did not play, a day after announcing he would retire at the end of this season. The crowd at Chase Field cheered him early in the game and he waved his cap in appreciation.
Goldschmidt had an RBI single in the first inning, hit a two-run homer in the third and added a two-run double in the fourth, all against Jhoulys Chacin (13-9).
Goldschmidt leads the NL with 114 RBIs.
Randall Delgado (5-6) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings for the Diamondbacks, who won have won three of four.
PADRES 4, BRAVES 0
ATLANTA — Burch Smith struck out 10 in seven innings to earn his first major league victory, Chase Headley and Tommy Medica homered, and San Diego beat Atlanta.
The Braves lead the NL East by 10 games over Washington. Atlanta opens a three-game series at Nationals Park on Monday night, and can clinch the division by winning twice there.
Smith (1-1) held the Braves hitless until pitcher Julio Teheran singled to lead off the sixth.
Smith allowed three hits and walked two. The rookie made his fifth career start — he had a 12.41 ERA in his previous starts. He struck out seven of the first 13 Atlanta batters.
Teheran (12-8) gave up seven hits, four runs, no walks and struck out six in 6 2-3 innings.
METS 1, MARLINS 0 (12)
NEW YORK — Slumping rookie Travis d’Arnaud hit a winning single with two outs in the 12th inning, lifting New York over Florida.
Dillon Gee and Tom Koehler took a pitchers’ duel into the eighth inning before the Marlins and Mets each used five relievers to finish off the fifth extra-inning matchup this season between the NL East’s worst teams.
D’Arnaud came through in a game of many missed opportunities after the two previous batters grounded into forceouts at the plate. New York had loaded the bases with no outs against Zach Phillip (0-1), making his third appearance for the Marlins.
Vic Black (1-0) pitched a perfect 12th inning for his first career win.
TWINS 6, RAYS 4
MINNEAPOLIS — Joel Peralta gave up a solo homer to Ryan Doumit in the eighth inning and a three-run drive to Josmil Pinto, and the Tampa Bay Rays stumbled again in the AL wild-card race with a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Tampa Bay, which had won its previous three games, wasted a 3-0 lead and dropped to 7-14 from Aug. 25 on. The Rays began the day tied with Texas for the two AL wild-card spots, 1 1-2 games ahead of Cleveland.
Minnesota had lost 11 in a row to the Rays.
TIGERS 3, ROYALS 2
DETROIT — Alex Avila homered twice, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the eighth inning that lifted Detroit over Kansas City.
Detroit’s Max Scherzer struck out 12 in seven innings, but he was denied his 20th victory when Kansas City tied it off Drew Smyly (6-0) in the eighth. Avila answered in the bottom half with a homer to right-center.
Joaquin Benoit pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 20 chances for the AL Central-leading Tigers.
Jeremy Guthrie (14-11) pitched all eight innings for the Royals, who remained 3½ games back in the AL wild-card race.
Avila’s first homer was a two-run shot in the second. Alex Gordon hit a solo homer for Kansas City in the fourth.
ATHLETICS 5, RANGERS 1
ARLINGTON, Texas — Josh Donaldson, Chris Young and Josh Reddick all homered and AL West-leading Oakland completed a three-game sweep of chasing and slumping Texas.
Oakland took a commanding 6½-game division lead with two weeks left after the final regular-season series between the AL West’s top two teams. The A’s have won five in a row and 13 of 16 overall.
Texas is 2-11 in September after beginning the month with a two-game division lead. The Rangers lost their sixth in row, all at home — this was their first winless homestand of at least six games since moving to Texas in 1972.
ANGELS 2, ASTROS 1
HOUSTON — Jerome Williams won a third straight start for the first time since April 2004, and Los Angeles sent Houston to its 98th loss of the season.
Houston, a big league-worst 51-98, is on the verge of becoming the first major league team to reach triple figures in losses in three consecutive seasons since Kansas City from 2004-06. The Astros were 56-106 in 2011 and dropped to 55-107 last year, their final season in the National League.
Josh Hamilton had an RBI triple in the first off Paul Clemens (4-5), a drive of the glove of center fielder Brandon Barnes as he went up Tal’s Hill. Mike Trout had reached with his AL-leading 100th walk.
ORIOLES 3, BLUE JAYS 1
TORONTO — Miguel Gonzalez pitched 5 1-3 innings before leaving with a strained right groin, Danny Valencia hit a two-run double and Baltimore beat Toronto.
The Orioles, who came in 3½ games behind Tampa Bay and Texas in the AL wild-card race, won their first road series since taking two of three at San Francisco on Aug. 9-11.
Baltimore slugger Chris Davis, who hit his 50th home run of the season Friday, went 0 for 3 and struck out twice.
He also drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk.
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