After another brilliant pitching performance helped the San Francisco Giants win the first game on their final road trip of the regular season, the NL West leaders will turn to the club’s most consistent starter over the past few weeks.
Matt Cain(notes) and three relievers combined on a two-hitter in San Francisco’s 1-0 win Tuesday to stay one-half game ahead of second-place San Diego, which defeated Los Angeles. The Giants (85-66), who haven’t won the division since 2003, increased their lead over the Rockies to 2 1/2 games, and San Francisco travels to Colorado for three games starting Friday.
“This is exciting,” Cain said. “We’re all having a lot of fun.”
The Giants managed just five hits Tuesday, but Buster Posey’s(notes) eighth-inning homer was all they needed. The rookie catcher has four homers and seven RBIs in his last 10 games, and five RBIs in as many games against the Cubs (68-82) this season.
Although the Giants won, it was the seventh time in 10 games they plated two runs or fewer. They’ve won six of these contests thanks to a pitching staff that’s posted a 1.01 ERA.
San Francisco boasts a major league-best 1.57 ERA this month, and Sanchez (11-8, 3.21 ERA) has been instrumental to that success.
In his last four starts, Sanchez is 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA and 31 strikeouts over 27 innings. Opponents are batting .146 against him over that stretch, and Sanchez’s .207 opponents’ batting average this year is tops in the majors.
In Thursday’s 10-2 win over the Dodgers, Sanchez allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings. The left-hander, who is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts since losing to San Diego on Aug. 13, also struck out a career-high 12 and walked none.
“That shows you he’s pounding the strike zone and throwing any pitch at any time,” manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants’ official website. “He’s pitching with a lot of confidence and going after the hitters.
“He throws hard and he has his secondary pitches working. With that kind of stuff, when you’re locating, you’re going to be tough.”
In his only career start against Chicago on May 4, 2009, Sanchez allowed four runs, five hits and six walks in four innings of a 4-2 loss.
The Cubs (68-81) saw their season-best six-game winning streak end Tuesday. Kosuke Fukudome(notes) and Blake DeWitt(notes) provided the only hits for a Chicago team that had averaged 6.5 runs in its previous six.
Wells allowed one run, five hits and no walks in eight innings of a 7-2 victory on Sept. 14 in St. Louis. It was just the second win in 10 starts for Wells, who has endured a very rocky second season.
“Pitching is all about confidence,” he said. “I’ve gone through some stretches where I haven’t had a whole lot of confidence.”
One of Wells’ worst efforts this year came in San Francisco on Aug. 12, when he was tagged for seven runs and eight hits - including two homers by Pat Burrell(notes) and a solo shot by Pablo Sandoval(notes) - in five innings. The Giants went on to an 8-7 win.