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Pence hits two homers in Giants' win

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Pardon Hunter Pence for getting a bit philosophical during the best spurt of his career.

After hitting his fifth home run in four days against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pence waxed poetic about the end of the San Francisco Giants' disappointing season.

"There's a quote that comes to mind: 'Things turn out the best for those who make the best of what is,'" Pence said after the Giants' 4-3 win on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, which clinched a rare series win for the Giants this year. "This is where we are, we've got to make the best of it. You look at it logically, the only way to make the best of it is to charge in as hard as we can, play as good of baseball as we can. Not only do we owe that to ourselves and each other, we owe it to the fans, the organization, and it is definitely not taken lightly. Granted, we would love to be in a better situation right now, but this is where we are.

"We're going to love the challenge."

If Pence's words are making an impact on his San Francisco teammates, his actions are making them sink in.

Teammate Brett Pill stood in awe of Pence, though he deserved some appreciation himself after snapping a late tie with a pinch-hit solo home run.

With the score tied at three in the top of the eighth inning, Pill stroked a home run to left field off Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez, clinching a 3-1 series win for the Giants.

"This feels good; I don't know what the numbers are exactly but I know they haven't been that good at the bench," Pill said. "I feel like I've been getting more comfortable. I was just trying to get on base - I wasn't necessarily taking any pitches, I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit."

Before that, Pence accounted for much of the San Francisco offense, as he has throughout the second half of the season.

Pence, who leads the National league in RBIs, runs and slugging percentage in September, homered twice, giving him home runs in four straight games. Pence, who had six RBIs and a home run against Colorado on Sept. 10 and seven RBIs on three hits against the Dodgers in 19-3 win on Sunday, had three more RBIs on Sunday.

Against the resurgent Edinson Volquez, Pence was a pest, as he chased the Los Angeles starter after his second home run, a two-run shot, in the sixth inning. Volquez went 5 2/3 innings and allowed five hits, three runs and seven strikeouts.

"Really pretty good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Volquez. "Two pitches and they were up. We didn't question the pitches, just execution. That's one guy you don't leave the ball up to at all. But he was really good -- it was probably his best outing with us in terms of his composure and tempo. He just didn't execute a couple pitches."

Against a patchwork Dodgers offense that was missing half of its regular lineup, San Francisco pitchers were not dominant but did enough to get by.

Ryan Vogelsong allowed seven hits and three runs in six innings while walking none and striking out two. Jean Machi, who picked up the win, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo each pitched an inning of relief, and Romo notched his 35th save despite loading the bases before inducing a groundout from pinch hitter Yasiel Puig.

"He doesn't lose his poise," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said of Romo. "There's no fear in Sergio, regardless of the situation. He's able to make his pitches. He's in a tough box there, but he shows you how tough he is mentally and he made some great pitches to get out of it."

Pence's sixth-inning home run tied the game at three after Adrian Gonzalez cleared the bases for the Dodgers with a three-run double in the fifth inning.

"I tried to come back up and in and I got the ball where I wanted to," Vogelsong said. "He just got the barrel on it."

Los Angeles did not get enough from its laboring offense to overcome Pence, who is taking advantage of the final month of a contract year, even if he doesn't have much to say about it. Sometimes.

"Buster (Posey) usually gives me something, but Hunter will usually just say, 'I just try to kill the ball,' which I don't doubt; he does," Pill said of seeking advice from his elder statesmen. "To do what he's doing right now is pretty unbelievable to watch. I think we're all feeding off it. It's been kind of ridiculous."

Pence made sure to ask Pill a question or two after his game-winning shot, however.

"Every time I get a hit he comes up to me and asks me what I'm thinking," Pence said. "All I say is I tried to see the ball and hit it as hard as I could. Really, I feel like if I'm mechanical, I get in my own way. That's the truth, and he gets all mad at me, so when he hit that homer I couldn't wait to ask him what he was thinking.

And?

"Up the middle," Pence said, laughing.

NOTES: Puig was one of several Dodger regulars left out of the starting lineup, although he did appear as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. Puig (left hip soreness) does not need an MRI but could miss some of the team's 10-day road trip. ... Los Angeles LF Carl Crawford sat out with back tightness and CF Andre Ethier had the day off with a sore ankle. ... Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez has been suffering a sore left hamstring that required two cortizone injections late last week. ... OF Matt Kemp, who has been sidelined since July 21 with a sprained ankle, could make his return this week as he is expected to join the team in Arizona. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pence became the first Giant since Willie Mays to hit a home run in every game of a four-game set against Los Angeles.
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