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Diamondbacks, Parra gun down Giants

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apparently the San Francisco Giants don't know their NBA history very well.

Even with Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Gerardo Parra wagging his index finger Dikembe Mutombo-style, the Giants kept challenging the rocket-armed left-hander Thursday night.

The result was a near-record-setting night for Parra -- and, coincidentally, the ejection of Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson.

Parra threw out two Giants on the bases, and Paul Goldschmidt and Martin Prado drove in three runs with back-to-back doubles in a four-run fifth inning as the Diamondbacks rallied following Gibson's ejection for a 4-2 victory in the opener of a four-game series.

The win opened a seven-game road trip and allowed Arizona to stay within 7 1/2 games of the Cincinnati Reds, who also won Thursday, in the race for the second wild-card playoff spot in the National League.

The Giants, meanwhile, lost more than just a game. X-rays taken before the game disclosed reigning Most Valuable Player Buster Posey has a small fracture in the tip of his right index finger.

Posey, who suffered the fracture trying to prevent a wild pitch Tuesday in San Diego, sat out his second consecutive game Thursday. The injury is not considered serious, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced after the game that his catcher could be back in the lineup as early as this weekend.

Trevor Cahill (6-10) ran his post-All-Star Game record to 3-0 despite giving up six hits and four walks in five innings. Thanks in large part to Parra, Cahill managed to hold the Giants to two runs over that stretch, with the second of those runs leading to the ejection of Gibson after a controversial safe call at home plate.

"That was impressive," Cahill said of four sensational throws by Parra, two of which resulted in outs and a third that, upon further review, should have. "They were trying to test him."

The question is why. Not only did Parra enter the game tied for third among major-leaguers with 11 outfield assists this season, but he'd already thrown out a Giant (pitcher Chad Gaudin) at second base on a would-be single to right field in a game earlier this season.

"There's not a better arm in baseball," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "And he's as accurate as any outfielder I've seen throw the ball. It's electric, and he showed it tonight. He helped win the ballgame for them; that's how good he is."

The Diamondbacks had been shut out on three hits for 4 2/3 innings before completely turning the tables on Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong (3-5) in the fifth. Five hits in a six-batter sequence sent the right-hander to the showers.

Down 2-0, Arizona got two-out doubles from Adam Eaton, Goldschmidt and Prado. Goldschmidt's double drove in two, and Prado's liner to right-center broke a 2-2 tie.

Aaron Hill capped the four-run uprising with an RBI single to left field.

Gibson's ejection came in a two-run Giants fourth inning after television replays showed plate umpire Tom Hallion erred in calling Pablo Sandoval safe at home plate after he had tagged from third base on Hector Sanchez's sacrifice fly to right field.

Sandoval, who homered three times in the Giants' 13-5 win Wednesday in San Diego, got the Giants on the board with a booming triple off the base of the wall at the 421-foot mark in right-center field. The blast scored Hunter Pence from first base.

Sandoval barely beat a 300-foot, one-hop throw to third base by Parra, who an inning earlier had nailed Brandon Crawford at the plate on a two-out single by Brandon Belt.

When Sanchez followed with a flyball to medium-deep right field, Sandoval lumbered home and arrived at the same time as Parra's strong throw. Sandoval collided with Montero, the Arizona catcher, and was ruled to have tagged home plate ahead of Montero's tag, increasing the Giants' lead to 2-0.

Replays showed that Sandoval in fact never touched the plate and was tagged during the collision by Montero. When both players scrambled back toward the plate following the collision, Montero tagged Sandoval again, but Hallion signaled that the Giant already had touched the plate safely.

Gibson questioned the call briefly, then returned to the dugout. But one pitch later, apparently after having heard the result of the TV replay, Gibson barked at Hallion from the dugout and received his third ejection of the season.

Parra helped a staggering Cahill get through the fifth inning, throwing out Belt at second as the Giants first baseman tried to stretch a single into a double on a ball that hit off the right field fence. Parra did his "no-no-no" Mutombo finger-waving as Belt walked off the field.

"I just do that for myself. I'm not trying to show up anyone," Parra said. "Nobody has run on me in like 30 games (actually, his last outfield assist was Aug. 10). I've been waiting."

The major league record for outfield assists in a game is four, held by many players but last accomplished in 1931. Parra came within inches and a bad call of tying the mark.

"I love it," he said of opponents who challenge him. "Especially when the game is close."

After Arizona went up 4-2 in the fifth, Diamondbacks relievers Tony Sipp, Will Harris, Joe Thatcher and Brad Ziegler held the Giants in check over the final four innings, allowing three hits and a walk but no runs. Ziegler closed with a 1-2-3 ninth, recording his eighth save.

NOTES: Parra now ranks second in the majors with 13 outfield assists. Kansas City's Alex Gordon has 14. ... Arizona's Eaton, Goldschmidt, Hill and Montero, and San Francisco's Marco Scutaro, Belt and Sandoval recorded two hits apiece. Eaton had two of the Diamondbacks' four doubles. ... Despite an 8 1/2-game difference in the standings in Arizona's favor, the Giants have a far better record within the NL West (33-27) than the Diamondbacks (27-29).
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