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Molina homers to lift Giants over Brewers

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COLIN FLY
September 5, 2009
— Bengie Molina felt he'd been hitting the ball well before a quadriceps injury sidelined him for eight starts. His power kept the Giants right behind Colorado in the NL wild-card race.

Molina homered on the first pitch of the eighth inning after rallying off an uncharacteristic error by Mike Cameron and the Giants bullpen pitched five scoreless innings to lift San Francisco over the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 on Friday night.


"Finally," said Molina, who is batting .204 with three homers in his last 16 games. "I haven't been through a stretch like this where you hit the ball so many times hard and they're outs. It feels good."


The Giants, who've lost 14 of 18 in Miller Park, remain one game behind the Rockies in the standings after scoring two unearned runs following the three-time Gold Glove center fielder's error and Molina's 17th homer this season.


San Francisco worked around 10 walks, the most its allowed in a nine-inning game this year.


"Any time you walk 10 guys and get away with it, you consider yourself fortunate," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.


Prince Fielder drove in his 121st run, tops in the majors, and Jeff Suppan took a no-hitter into the fifth, but Milwaukee unraveled on the error in the sixth before Todd Coffey (4-4) allowed Molina's homer.


Molina said even though he'll see how he feels on Saturday morning, the fact he's caught back-to-back games in a playoff race bodes well for him the rest of the season.


"It's a good test for me, for my leg," Molina said. "Hitting, pitching, catching anywhere you play if you have a lot of adrenaline it's going to carry through."


Despite all the walks, the Giants' bullpen of Justin Miller, Bob Howry, Dan Runzler, Brandon Medders (4-1), Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson worked five scoreless innings to pick up Barry Zito, who had the worst game of his second half. Wilson finished his 33rd save by working around a one-out single to Ryan Braun.


"It's huge when you know you can count on the bullpen. Every single guy went out there and gave it their all," Wilson said. "It just gives us, as a team, gives us a little bit of comfortability."


Comfortability?


"Yeah, it's a word," Wilson joked.


Staked a 2-0 lead, Suppan didn't allow a hit until Travis Ishikawa's single fell in front of Cameron. The next inning, Cameron forced the veteran right-hander from the game by dropping a two-out liner from Nate Schierholtz with two on and two out that allowed Edgar Renteria to score.


"It was just one of those plays that I've made a few times. That one just hit off the tip of my glove," Cameron said. "It turned out to be costly."


Aaron Rowand followed with an RBI single to tie it at 2-all and chase Suppan, who left without allowing an earned run on two hits and four walks in his third start since returning from a strained oblique.


The error let Zito off the hook after the left-hander struggled with his control, too, walking five.


Zito, who came in 4-2 with a 1.92 ERA since the All-Star break, lasted four innings and had at least one walk in every inning, also finished with five strikeouts.


Milwaukee could only take advantage in the first inning.


Fielder's RBI groundout made it 1-0 after Jason Bourgeois and Braun used a double steal to put men on second and third with one out. Casey McGehee walked and Cameron singled in Bourgeois before Zito got out of the jam.


The Brewers' two best chances came in the fifth and sixth innings, but they failed to score off Miller, who walked the bases loaded before Howry got the final out of the fifth. Howry then put two on in the sixth, but Runzler made his major league debut by striking out Jody Gerut on three pitches to end the inning.


"You know what they did a good job of? They picked each other up," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Howry comes in, picks up Miller. Runzler, that's a tough spot to put the kid in his first time out, and he gets a big out for us. Medders did a great job and Jeremy picked him up."


NOTES: The Brewers called up OF Corey Patterson. ... Brewers RF Corey Hart (appendectomy) began a rehab assignment. He's been out since Aug. 2. ... The Giants haven't ruled out bringing back 2B Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) before this six-game road trip ends on Sunday. ... Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick Brandon Jennings threw out the first pitch.



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