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09/15/10 11:59 PM ET

Lefties clash as Giants shoot for first place

As the National League West gets wilder by the day, the Giants are once again in position to claim sole possession of first place.

Coupled with the Padres' 9-6 loss to the Rockies -- don't forget about them, either -- San Francisco's 2-1 win against its nemesis Los Angeles on Wednesday moved the Giants to a half-game back of San Diego.

For now, the Rockies sit 2 1/2 back of the Padres, while the Dodgers are sitting a distant 10 1/2 games out.

"It's important we play well in these games against teams in the race," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

For Thursday's series finale, the Giants will be leaning on lefty Jonathan Sanchez, who looks like he has finally figured out the Dodgers after four seasons of torment.

In three appearances (two starts) against Los Angeles this year, Sanchez is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA after going 0-4 with a 5.95 ERA to start his career. Excluding pitchers, the Dodgers are batting a combined .238 against Sanchez for their careers.

He defeated the Dodgers on Sept. 5, throwing seven shutout innings to earn his 10th win of the year and record the first double-digit win season of his career.

"Having your fourth starter going seven or eight innings of shutout baseball, he's coming around and getting locked in at the right time," said Giants closer Brian Wilson after the game. "It couldn't come from a better pitcher, as far as stuff-wise."

Los Angeles will counter with its own southpaw, Ted Lilly, who tossed seven innings of two-run ball against the Giants on Sept. 4 in a no-decision.

Giants: Guillen battling bulging disk in neck
San Francisco is hopeful outfielder Jose Guillen will be fit to return to action Thursday after missing Wednesday's contest following an epidural shot for a bulging disk in his neck. Guillen is batting .280 with a home run and seven RBIs since the Giants acquired him on Aug. 13, a span of 26 games.

Dodgers: Ethier dismisses Boston rumblings
Despite reports saying otherwise, Los Angeles outfielder Andre Ethier said he isn't looking forward to playing for the Red Sox in the near future.

"It's obviously hearsay," Ethier said. "Especially at this point, it doesn't even make sense to comment on something like this."

Worth noting
The Giants hold a 9-8 advantage heading into Thursday's contest, the season's final meeting between the two rivals.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.