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SF@NYM: Panda pummels a two-run shot into upper deck

NEW YORK -- Who needs a save situation? The Giants had specialized in winning close games this season, but they found a way to win twice without tempting the late-inning fates Monday.

The Giants scored more first-inning runs (five) than the Mets managed all day (three) in their doubleheader sweep, and they turned a trend on its ear in the process. Six of the Giants' first eight victories had come by two or fewer runs, and both Monday wins came by at least five runs.

The two results -- a 7-2 victory in the nightcap after a 6-1 win in Game 1 -- gave San Francisco some momentum. The Giants have now won four straight series and eight of their past 11 games, and they'll go into their three-game set against the Reds with control of second place in the National League West.

"It's not easy to win a doubleheader, and guys played well," manager Bruce Bochy said of the day's work. "We came off a tough loss a couple days ago and bounced back to put two games together -- well-played games. Here, in New York especially, it's good to get a doubleheader."

San Francisco (9-7) could credit three players with especially large roles in Monday's victories. Both starting pitchers -- Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner -- provided effective outings, and third baseman Pablo Sandoval tied a team record with hits in both ends of the doubleheader.

Lincecum worked five innings and walked five batters, but left the first game with a five-run cushion, and Bumgarner was rarely challenged in spinning seven three-hit innings in the nightcap. Sandoval, meanwhile, singled in the first inning of the first game and homered in the first inning of the second.

That gave Sandoval hits in 16 straight games to start the season, a run that equals a mark set by the great Willie Mays. Mays hit in 16 straight games to open the 1960 season, and Sandoval will have a chance to vault past him and set the longest streak in San Francisco's team history on Tuesday.

"It's exciting for me to be part of the streak, especially with Willie being one of the greatest in baseball," said Sandoval of his torrid start to the season. "I'm just going to focus and play my game in every moment and every at-bat. In every game, I just go out there, have fun and do my thing."

Sandoval wasn't alone in terms of offensive production on Monday night. Buster Posey hit a home run in the first game, and his backup, Hector Sanchez, hit his first career homer in the nightcap. Right fielder Nate Schierholtz had six hits on the day -- three in each game -- and tripled twice, while homering once.

"He gives you great defense, but you've got to like the way he's swinging the bat," said Bochy of Schierholtz. "He's going to be out there. He's earned it and he's playing great."

San Francisco scored twice in the first inning of the first game and three more times in the first inning of the second. Prior to Monday's outing, Lincecum had allowed at least five earned runs in three straight starts for the first time in his career, and he managed to keep himself out of trouble against the Mets.

New York's best chance against Lincecum (1-2) came with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning, but second baseman Emmanuel Burriss saved the day with a sprawling backhand scoop and glove-flip to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who easily relayed down to first for a key double play.

"Timmy worked hard, but he got a win. That's what it's about," said Bochy of his ace. "He wasn't quite as sharp as I know he'd like to be. It just seemed like he got a little quick at times out there. Burriss saved us for that play. He was right at the end. If that ball gets through, I have to go get him."

If Lincecum got quick, Bumgarner (3-1) got nasty. The left-hander allowed just one baserunner in the first three innings of the second game, and the Giants led by five runs after the top of the fourth. New York (8-8) scratched out a run in the fourth, but Bumgarner retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced.

"It was a long day and a good day," said Bumgarner. "It was different, I guess. ... It wasn't too bad. I kind of liked watching their hitters and seeing what they were trying to do off Timmy."

The Mets challenged late in the second game, making things interesting by scoring their second run and loading the bases with one out in the eighth inning against Javier Lopez and Manny Acosta. Clay Hensley came into that spot, though, and retired rookie Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis.

"We used the 'pen a little bit in the first game, so he gave us what we needed," said Bochy of Bumgarner. "He got us deep in the game and pitched great. We got him some runs and gave him a cushion there, but I thought he had great stuff and did a nice job out there. He's throwing the ball well."

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