Moore's early exit provides unique opportunity

Moore's early exit provides unique opportunity

LOS ANGELES -- The 9-3 spanking that the Giants received from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night became a glamorized side session for the leading candidates to replace Johnny Cueto as Sunday's starter at San Diego.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy emphasized that Cueto, who sustained a strained left groin in Tuesday night's game, hasn't been ruled out from taking his regular turn.

Nevertheless, the Giants might need to replace Cueto as the starter, or relieve him early in the game. So it was convenient that the most logical alternatives to Cueto -- veteran starters Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, as well as rookie left-hander Ty Blach -- participated in a genuine ballgame.

Giants starter Matt Moore lasted only one-plus inning on Wednesday, so Cain, Peavy and Blach teamed up to turn in six innings, with Cain pitching the second and third, Peavy taking the fifth and Blach going three scoreless to close the game.

Blach hadn't pitched since Sept. 5. Cain last appeared on Sept. 10. Peavy's previous day of work was on Sunday.

Blach improved upon his other outing, which happened to be a scoreless three-inning stint in his Major League debut. He yielded a hit and walked a batter in that game at Colorado. Against the Dodgers, he retired all nine batters he faced.

Blach sounded as if he won't dwell on the possibility of starting a game that will certainly influence the Giants' fortunes in the National League Wild Card race. "I'm just going to be ready to go whenever they need me," he said.

Blach, who finished 14-7 with a 3.43 ERA at Triple-A Sacramento this year, insisted that he wasn't intimidated by the Dodger Stadium crowd or the pedigree of Los Angeles' hitters.

"Every time you're out there on the mound, you're competing against those guys in the box," he said.

A Peavy start in San Diego would be a crowd-pleasing event, since he began his career there in 2002 and proceeded to spend eight seasons with the Padres, including his Cy Young Award-winning year of 2007.

Peavy, who allowed a fifth-inning run, said that "I'll do everything I can do" to prepare himself to pitch Sunday if necessary. But Peavy hopes it doesn't come to that.

"Obviously, we're hoping for Johnny to be on the mound," Peavy said. "Our best team is when Johnny Cueto starts."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.