Juan Uribe now a regular for Giants

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juan uribe.jpgGiants manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that Juan Uribe will stay in the lineup as an everyday player after Freddy Sanchez returns from shoulder surgery, something that could happen in about two weeks.
Bochy didn’t say Uribe would own second base for himself, but that’s really the only place for him. Moving Pablo Sandoval to first and using Uribe at third is an option, but it certainly wouldn’t make any sense when Huff is off to a .280/.370/.484 start a month into the season. Besides, Sandoval has been plenty solid defensively at the hot corner after shedding some weight over the winter.
Uribe at short over Edgar Renteria is also unlikely to happen with any regularity. Renteria has a 773 OPS that’s comparable to Uribe’s 781 mark this season, and he’s the more capable defender. Uribe has lost a lot of range through the years and can’t be viewed as a regular shortstop these days.
So, it will probably come down to Uribe versus Sanchez most days, and it looks like Bochy prefers the guy who signed for $3.25 million in January to the one who got a two-year, $12 million deal in October. It’s defensible. Uribe came in with an 824 OPS in 398 at-bats last year, while Sanchez finished at 742 in 457 at-bats. Defensively, the two are close to a wash.
It just makes one wonder why the Giants saw the need to re-sign Sanchez. But it’s typical of Brian Sabean to spread the wealth. He could have used the money he spent on Sanchez, Mark DeRosa and Bengie Molina to make a run at Matt Holliday, yet that’s simply not his style.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.