08/20/07 1:50 PM ET
Notes: Giants neutralize the big Fish
Slowing Marlins' big hitters key to club's weekend success
By Tom Keller / MLB.com
Each entered the series with San Francisco hitting better than .330, making them the only teammates in the top five in either league in batting average. The duo had combined to hit 51 homers and drive in 149 of Florida's 562 runs -- more than a quarter of the team's offense.
But the Giants have done something this series that few teams have been able to manage all season -- keep the talented Florida teammates in check. Entering Monday's finale, Ramirez and Cabrera had combined to collect just four hits in 24 at-bats.
"It doesn't take much to know that there's a couple of guys in their lineup that aren't only hitting for power but hitting for average, too," Noah Lowry said. "You've really got to be careful with those guys."
Lowry knows well of what he speaks. He left a slider hanging to Cabrera with runners at second and third in the fifth inning Sunday, and the slugger roped it to left for a two-run double.
"[I was] kind of upset with the pitch," Lowry said. "I probably should have stayed hard and I didn't. I left it up, and you can't do that to Cabrera. He's too good of a hitter."
But the Giants -- and specifically, their bullpen -- prevented the duo from wreaking any further damage. Ramirez stepped to the plate with the tying and winning runs on base in the ninth inning, but he popped out to third to end the game.
"The last thing you want to do there is face Ramirez," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Containment like that is hardly the only reason the Giants won the first three games of the series, but it's a factor that's hard to overlook.
"I'm not going to say it's definitely a difference maker," Lowry said, "but it has made a difference."
It appears the Giants' luck might have run out, though -- Cabrera was out of the lineup on Monday after arriving late to the park.
Order restored: After giving several of his starters the day off on Sunday, Bochy's lineup was mostly back in order on Monday, as Ryan Klesko and Bengie Molina both returned.
Barry Bonds sat out again but will start Tuesday in San Francisco, Bochy said.
Pedro Feliz sat for the first time in 37 games. Rich Aurilia was at third base in his place.
The only unavailable arm in the bullpen was that of Brad Hennessey, who had saved the previous three games. Brian Wilson would be the closer if necessary, Bochy said.
Well spent: Rajai Davis was in the lineup Monday for the sixth straight game and 12th time in 13 contests, but Bochy said he'll give the outfielder a rest on Tuesday.
"He could use a break," Bochy said.
Davis earned a breather with all the running he did in the seventh inning Sunday. His bunt attempt was thrown into right field by Florida pitcher Lee Gardner, then picked up by right fielder Cody Ross and thrown into left field. Davis ended up at third on the two-error play, which gave San Francisco the lead for good.
Bochy said the threat of Davis' speed was likely a factor in Gardner's mishap.
"There's not a lot of time to make that decision when he's going that quick," Bochy said.
Escape artists: The San Francisco bullpen inherited four runners on Sunday, and all four were stranded. For the season, Giants relievers have stranded 126 of the 197 runners they've inherited (64 percent).
"That's what wins games, what keeps you out of big innings," Bochy said. "It does so much for momentum of a ballclub. Giving up those runs, it can zap you a little bit."
The most critical escape came in the sixth, when Vinnie Chulk relieved Lowry and got two outs to leave a pair of runners aboard.
"At that point," Lowry said, "the game is on the line."
Cause and effect: Ray Durham said after Sunday's win that finishing the season well would help give the Giants momentum heading into next season.
Considering free agency, trades, injuries and other unforeseen events will likely make next year's roster look different from the one playing now, Bochy was asked how much carryover effect could be expected from a solid finish.
"Part of any success you have, you want that confidence that it takes to win," Bochy said. "For the psyche of the club, it would be important."
On deck: The Giants begin a nine-game homestand when they host the Cubs at 7:05 p.m. PT on Tuesday. Tim Lincecum (7-3, 3.95) will return from the bereavement list to oppose Jason Marquis (10-7, 4.25).
Tom Keller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.