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SF@COL: Posey crushes a two-run shot to left

DENVER -- Buster Posey's second-half hitting has inflamed the imagination and conjured dreams of glory. Yes, he's that hot.

It's too much to ask Posey to remain as productive as he has been recently. But he's definitely capable of continuing to perform at an elevated level, enough to help send the Giants to the postseason -- and thrust himself back into the game's national spotlight.

Is Posey a Most Valuable Player candidate? He certainly has looked like one since the All-Star break. And he maintained his torrid hitting Saturday -- along with the rest of the Giants, who prolonged their weekend romp at hitter-friendly Coors Field with an 11-6 triumph over the Colorado Rockies.

Posey opened the scoring with a two-run, first-inning homer off Rockies starter Jeff Francis and ultimately went 2-for-6 with three RBIs. That actually dropped his batting average in 19 games since the All-Star break to .453 (34-for-75) with six home runs and a National League-high 25 RBIs.

"I don't know what else to say about him," manager Bruce Bochy said after the first-place Giants retained their half-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West standings. "He's a great player. You're seeing one of the best young players in the game. He's fun to watch. His focus up there at the plate -- he's so relaxed. There's never any panic with him."

The rest of the Giants also seem anxiety-free. One night after amassing a season-high 16 runs in Friday's series opener, San Francisco maintained pressure on Colorado's beleaguered pitching staff by collecting 17 hits, another season high. The Giants also scored in double digits for the second straight day, the first time they've achieved this since a three-game binge Aug. 23-25, 2010, against Cincinnati.

Melky Cabrera homered in the third inning and scored three runs. Angel Pagan stroked four hits, including a ninth-inning homer that ended a streak of 164 at-bats without a roundtripper. Marco Scutaro went 3-for-4, boosting his average as a Giant to .355 (11-for-31). As they did Friday, when they scored 13 runs in the final three innings, the Giants pulled away with four runs in the eighth and Pagan's tally in the ninth.

All season, Posey and Cabrera have carried the Giants, particularly against left-handed pitching. Posey's batting .413 (43-for-104) against southpaws; Cabrera's hitting .405 (49-for-121) off them.

"If you look at what Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey are doing this year against left-handed pitching, it can be a little bit of a crap shoot unless you're overwhelming these two guys with stuff," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said.

Now other Giants are presenting a challenge to opposing pitchers. At least in this series.

"It's addictive," said Pagan, who's 7-for-10 with six runs and four RBIs in the series' first two games. "You want to go out there and do the same thing so when they [Posey and Cabrera] don't do it, you can pick them up."

Posey has needed no bolstering, despite being barely more than a year removed from the extensive left leg injuries that he sustained in a home-plate collision. He has remained relatively fresh, largely due to Bochy's judicious use of him. Though Posey has appeared in 96 of San Francisco's 107 games, he has started only 74 games at catcher, the game's most grueling position. When he needs a rest, Bochy's likely to give him one, though short-term priorities might tempt him otherwise. An example occurred last Thursday against the Mets. The Giants could have used a win to salvage a dreary series, yet Posey remained on the bench.

Sunday, Posey is expected to start his 17th game of the year at first base, which is hardly a day off but not as draining as an afternoon behind the plate.

"You try to keep it in perspective and realize that there are two months left in the season," Posey said. "Sometimes it's important to recover to stay fresh the rest of the way and not get worn down. But, of course, it's tough. There are times I'm sitting there that I wish I was in there."

Giants starter Madison Bumgarner (12-6) was in there long enough to improve to 4-3 with a 1.88 ERA in nine lifetime starts against Colorado, including 3-2, 2.59 at Coors Field. He lapsed only in his sixth and final inning, when Josh Rutledge smacked a one-out homer. By then, the Giants led 6-0.

Bumgarner displayed admirable command, walking one and striking out seven despite experiencing the usual tests Coors Field imposes upon pitchers. His curveball kept slipping out of his hand, so he adjusted.

"I kept the fastball down and used the cutter a lot," Bumgarner said. "I didn't really throw much else."

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