Molina homers twice to lead Giants
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—A couple of minor tweaks at the plate and some extra work with the hitting coach and Bengie Molina is back to himself.
Molina had his fifth career multihomer game and second this season, which he also accomplished April 8 against San Diego. Fred Lewis hit his first career leadoff home run when he connected to right on a 1-0 pitch from Jason Bergmann (1-7).
“I’m seeing the ball pretty good the last couple of days. I lost something in the middle of July and couldn’t pick the ball up,” Molina said. “I guess I wasn’t ready to hit. For sure it’s a step forward and a boost of confidence. Hopefully I can keep it going.”
Zito (5-12) won back-to-back decisions for the first time all year, getting plenty of offense in the process. He hadn’t done so since winning his final two outings of 2007. He received cheers instead of jeers from the fickle San Francisco fans. Zito struck out five and walked three in six solid innings, allowing three runs and seven hits.
The last time the Giants hit three home runs in a game was May 23, helping Zito to his first win of 2008 after an 0-8 start. San Francisco had hit only three homers in its previous 18 games.
“The boys came out swinging it,” Zito said. “My approach is to go out there and leave it all on the field—don’t save anything. … I’d stayed sharp and thrown bullpens over the break. I was bad against a few hitters but good when I needed to be.”
Omar Vizquel added an RBI double in the fourth only a few hours after manager Bruce Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean told the 11-time Gold Glove shortstop, 41, that rookie Emmanuel Burriss would get significant playing time at the position during the season’s second half. Aaron Rowand’s RBI single in the eighth provided an insurance run.
Burriss entered as a defensive replacement at second base in the ninth and made a pretty diving catch to his left on Cristian Guzman’s liner.
Giants hitting coach Carney Lansford has been working with Molina on his balance while in the batter’s box, and “he’s made the adjustment,” Lansford said.
“Molina had my number today,” Bergmann said. “I tried each time he came up to throw something a little different. I tried to go in on him twice and then go back out away. He just did a good job of hitting and he hit two balls out.”
San Francisco ended a four-game home losing streak with just its fifth win in the last 19 games in the club’s waterfront ballpark. The Giants had three home wins in May and June and now four so far in July, improving to 18-30 at home.
“We just couldn’t get the big hit today and we didn’t make some plays we should make and that hurt Bergie a little bit,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “Their team, they don’t hit that many home runs but he fell behind in the count, they got good pitches to hit and they hit them out.”
Eugenio Velez began his stint as San Francisco’s new regular second baseman, two days after the Giants dealt Ray Durham to the Milwaukee Brewers for two minor leaguers. Velez singled and stole his ninth base in the first.
Backup C Eliezer Alfonzo said after the game he had been sent down to Triple-A Fresno, though the Giants planned the announcement for Wednesday. … At 16-15, the Nationals are one of three NL teams with winning records at AT&T Park. The Dodgers and Pirates are the two others. … Zito also beat the Nationals on June 8. … Giants INF Kevin Frandsen, recovering from a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon that could cost him the season, hit live batting practice in the outdoor cage for the first time. “It’s just one of those things. It’s another step,” he said. … San Francisco will take infield practice once a series, including on the road—and such practice is rare these days during the season. “It’s more a response that when you have young players you want to continue to work with them,” Bochy said. … Guzman, Washington’s SS, agreed to terms on a $16 million, two-year contract extension that takes him through the 2010 season. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and grounded into a double play. … Bergmann is winless in 11 starts since beating the Mets in New York on May 15.