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04/20/08 7:29 PM ET
Offensive outburst gives Giants series
Molina tallies three hits, three RBIs; Bowker slugs third homer
By Nate Latsch / Special to MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The San Francisco Giants arrived in St. Louis with a two-game losing streak and will leave with a two-game winning streak. Every player in the starting lineup had a hit Sunday, led by catcher Bengie Molina's three hits and three RBIs, and starter Jonathan Sanchez tossed five scoreless innings as the Giants defeated the Cardinals, 8-2, at Busch Stadium. "We were playing a very good ballclub here that's been hot," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "To come on the road and take a series here, yeah, that's great for the club, especially after the last road trip. And it's a great way to start the road trip." San Francisco, which won the season series with St. Louis four games to three, improved to 8-11 on the season and will now head to Arizona for a two-game series. St. Louis fell to 12-7. "Any time you win against the Cardinals and that type of team, it's great," Molina said. "It doesn't matter how you win. It matters that you came out with two out of three against the Cardinals. It's a big win for us. It gives us a lot of confidence to go out to Arizona." The Giants' first inning was a sign of things to come Sunday. Fred Lewis, Jose Castillo, Ray Durham, Molina and Aaron Rowand all put the bat on the ball against Cardinals right-hander Braden Looper -- even though they left Molina and Durham stranded on base. "I told Carney [hitting coach Lansford], this is a good start," Bochy said. "The guys are taking some good swings. We didn't have anything to show for it, but we came out swinging and had some hard outs there." "In the first inning we didn't score any runs, but we squared up five balls against him and he's been throwing the ball really, really well," Rowand said. "We came out in the first inning and hit five balls on the screws on the barrel and ended up not getting any runs. But I think that was a confidence builder and we felt like we had a shot to get to him today." The Giants erupted for six runs in the third inning, with six consecutive hits against Looper. Lewis and Castillo started it off with back-to-back singles. Then Durham hit an RBI double and Molina followed with a two-run double. After Rowand's RBI single, rookie right fielder John Bowker blasted a two-run home run 412 feet into the right-field seats. "We came in here playing a hot team," Bochy said. "They can put some runs on the board. Bengie's [double], it just seemed like it got contagious then with his big hit. Bowker's just makes things a little more comfortable." It was the third home run in 19 at-bats for Bowker, who also has nine RBIs in his first seven games in the Major Leagues. After going 1-for-5, he is now hitting .364. "It's good to come out swinging the bat well because you know how the season goes," Bowker said. "You go through your ups and downs, so it's good to come out swinging well." The Giants added two runs in the fourth after chasing Looper. Molina had an RBI single and Rowand followed with an RBI single. Sanchez (1-1) shut out St. Louis for five innings to earn his first victory as a starter since Sept. 6, 2006, at Cincinnati, which was also his first Major League win. The lefty allowed two hits, struck out five and walked four. He threw 101 pitches, with 59 strikes, and labored to get through five innings. "I think Sanchez did very, very good, actually," Molina said. "He was moving his ball. He was having that sinker moving a lot today. Obviously he got tired, I think, towards the fifth inning. Other than that, he pitched great." The Giants' bullpen closed out the final four innings. Keiichi Yabu didn't allow a hit in the sixth or seventh. Merkin Valdez struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth. Vinnie Chulk, making his second appearance since coming off the disabled list, struggled in the ninth. He surrendered four hits, including three doubles. Troy Glaus and Rico Washington both hit RBI doubles to snap the shutout and break the Giants' run of 17 consecutive shutout innings this weekend. "The pitching did a great job the last couple of days," Bochy said.
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.