The San Francisco Giants said they had to move on after Melky Cabrera’s 50-game suspension for a positive drug test. They’ve done just that, regaining the NL West lead and improving to 5-2 since his punishment was announced last week.
Solid pitching by Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, along with hot-hitting from Angel Pagan on the current road trip has allowed the Giants to extend their division lead to 2½ games.
They beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 on Wednesday night for their first three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium in five years. The Giants arrived in Los Angeles trailing the Dodgers by a half-game and they leave with their largest lead in a month.
”We have a lot of talent here and these guys stepped it up,” manager Bruce Bochy said. ”You hate to lose one of your best players, but it’s how you deal with it and those guys have. You have no choice. These guys have done a great job of putting it behind them.”
Cain pitched seven strong innings following strong outings by Bumgarner and Lincecum, and Joaquin Arias homered and drove in a career-high five runs to give the Giants their first sweep in Los Angeles since April 24-26, 2007.
”It put a little pressure on you because you want to keep everything going on your end,” said Cain (13-5), who allowed one run and seven hits, struck out five and walked none to win his third in a row.
The Giants avenged a three-game sweep by the Dodgers in San Francisco last month that created a virtual tie atop the division. Now the Giants are ahead by their biggest margin since a 2 1/2-game lead on July 25.
”It was one of those series where it just didn’t seem like anything went our way,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Chris Capuano (11-9) gave up three runs in the first inning before settling down and retiring 13 straight. But he became unhinged to start the sixth, giving up three consecutive hits. An RBI single by Pablo Sandoval chased Capuano. The left-hander allowed six runs and six hits in five-plus innings, struck out two and walked none.
”Madison got it started for them and really shut us down and didn’t give us much air at all,” Capuano said. ”We took it to them earlier in the year there and they kind of returned the favor.”
Arias hit a two-run homer in the first, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead after Sandoval’s sacrifice fly. Those two struck again in the sixth, Sandoval with an RBI single and Arias with a run-scoring double. Shawn Tolleson gave up a bases-loaded walk that scored Sandoval and extended the Giants’ lead to 6-0.
”We came here with the mindset we needed to win,” Sandoval said. ”It’s a lot of games coming up so we need to keep fighting.”
The Dodgers’ first run came on Hanley Ramirez’s RBI single in the sixth.
Arias’ two-run RBI double off Jamey Wright in the seventh made it 8-1.
”I’m very proud of what I did because everyone goes out there every day and tries to produce,” Arias said through a translator. ”As soon as I signed, it was my goal to make the team and stay here. I expect a lot of myself.”
The Dodgers rallied with three runs in the eighth to trail 8-4. Matt Kemp hit a run-scoring ground-rule double against Clay Hensley and Luis Cruz hit a two-run single with the bases loaded off Santiago Casilla before A.J. Ellis hit into an inning-ending double play.
Giants left fielder Justin Christian ran full speed toward the left field corner and robbed Juan Rivera of extra bases with a diving catch on the warning track in the seventh with a runner on first base.
”What a catch he made,” Bochy said.
Christian had his sore left wrist wrapped after the game, and he said he hoped he could play on Thursday when the Giants open a four-game series at home against Atlanta.
Ethier was 0-for-18 before ending the drought in the sixth with a ground-rule double that was misjudged by right fielder Hunter Pence. It gave Ethier six straight seasons with 30 or more doubles, setting a Dodgers franchise record.
Ethier played with a blister on the palm of his right hand. … Giants C Buster Posey was scratched from the lineup because of tightness in his right hamstring. He’s day to day. Posey left after his final at-bat in the seventh inning on Tuesday night after increasing discomfort. … Giants RHP Brad Penny will join Class-A San Jose on Thursday as he continues his rehab from right shoulder problems, which landed him on the disabled list on Aug. 14. … Mattingly flip-flopped his starting pitchers for weekend games against the Miami Marlins. LHP Clayton Kershaw will move up a day to start Saturday, while RHP Aaron Harang moves back a day to pitch on Sunday. … Giants closer Brian Wilson will resume throwing in October as he rehabs from the Tommy John surgery he had on April 19.