LOS ANGELES -- With Melky Cabrera gone for the season, the Giants called for somebody, anybody, to step up in their No. 3 hitter's absence.Joaquin Arias heeded the call. So did Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and the formidable starting pitchers. Arias drove in a career-high five runs Wednesday to propel the Giants to an 8-4 triumph that concluded a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers and sealed San Francisco's two-city trip with a 5-1 mark. The Giants' first Dodger Stadium sweep since April 24-26, 2007, lengthened their National League West lead over second-place Los Angeles to 2 1/2 games. San Francisco (69-55) also climbed a season-high 14 games above .500. Ponder this contrast: Since the All-Star break, the Giants are 14-5 on the road and the Dodgers are 6-12 at home. The Giants' 5-2 record since Cabrera's suspension for testing positive for testosterone has silenced those who doubted whether they can remain competitive without him. Wednesday, the Giants faced a new challenge when catcher Buster Posey, their Most Valuable Player candidate, sat out to nurse a tight right hamstring. Due largely to Arias, Pagan and Scutaro, Posey enjoyed a carefree evening off as he watched the Giants score three times in the first and sixth innings and twice in the seventh. Arias, who went 9-for-16 in the four games he started on this trip, fueled his outburst with a homer, two doubles and three runs scored.
"No. Never," Arias responded when asked through interpreter/reliever Sergio Romo if he had ever had a bigger day in baseball.Pagan, who hit .481 on the trip (13-for-27), also scored three runs. Scutaro batted .385 for the trip (10-for-26) and scored twice in the finale. "That's what's going to happen to any team trying to make the playoffs or make it deep into the playoffs. You have to have guys who aren't the so-called key guys step up," right-hander Matt Cain said. "You can't have the same guys carry you all the time. It doesn't work that way. You have to have different guys do things at different times to pull you along." Cain (13-5) limited the Dodgers to one run and seven hits in seven innings while working without Posey for the first time this season, reflecting his easy collaboration with Hector Sanchez.
"I can't say enough for what Hector did today. He did a great job," said Cain, who's 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last three starts.The Dodgers appeared to be ascending as this series began. They came off a 7-3 trip in which they averaged 5.7 runs per game. But the Giants limited them to six runs in the series. The rotation justified its reputation as Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum combined to allow two runs and 16 hits in 20 2/3 innings (ERA: 0.87) while walking one and striking out 19. "It was a surprising series for me, really," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "I felt like coming off the road we'd play well. Not that we played badly. We just didn't do enough to win." Cain received defensive support from shortstop Arias and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who made deft backhanded stops in the third and fourth innings, respectively. Sandoval unleashed a low, wide throw to first base, but Brandon Belt grabbed it while keeping his foot on the bag for the inning-ending out. For emphasis, left fielder Justin Christian made an acrobatic catch of Juan Rivera's seventh-inning drive by lunging for the ball at the edge of the outfield grass and holding onto it as his momentum sent him careening across the warning track. The Dodgers threw a scare into the Giants by rallying for three runs in the eighth against Clay Hensley and Jeremy Affeldt. But Santiago Casilla restored order by coaxing A.J. Ellis' inning-ending double-play grounder before working a scoreless ninth. The drama is hardly over. The Dodgers visit San Francisco from Sept. 7-9 and the Giants end the regular season here Oct. 1-3. The consensus is that the teams' postseason fate won't be sealed until that final series. "You would doubt that anything happens where one team runs away with it," Cain said. "Obviously you'd love to. More than likely it'll come down to that last week."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.