Hunter Pence slugs long solo homer to get Giants on board in Game 4

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Hunter Pence’s struggles caused him to be dropped to sixth in the order in Game 4 tonight, but he has responded in a big way.

Pence launched a long solo home run to left field off Adam Wainwright in the top of the second inning to get the Giants on the board. According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, it traveled an estimated 451 feet.

Pence entered tonight’s action hitting just .161 (5-for-31) with no extra-base hits or RBI this postseason.

Pete Kozma reached on a fielding error to lead off the bottom of the second against Tim Lincecum, but he was quickly erased on a stolen base attempt. Not exactly the best idea to give away outs to the guy who is struggling. Lincecum walked two in the inning, including opposing pitcher Adam Wainwright, but he managed to escape and keep the score at 2-1. Still, he’s already at 44 pitches, so it’s unlikely he’ll last long in this one.

The Giants had a chance to tie it up in the top of the third inning when Angel Pagan reached on a two-out triple, but Wainwright got Marco Scutaro on a comebacker to end the threat. The Cardinals lead this one 2-1 as we move to the bottom of the third inning.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.