Armando Benitez's days as closer for the San Francisco Giants this season could be numbered.
He has blown each of his last three save opportunities during the team's seven-game losing streak, forcing San Francisco officials to decide whether another arm in the ninth inning might give the Giants a better chance to win — though the choice ultimately will be made by manager Felipe Alou.
"We're going to consider other options," general manager Brian Sabean said Monday. "The general feeling is, not to say that he won't close games, but at the end of the day it's going to be dealt with by Felipe. But it has been discussed from an organizational standpoint." Sabean didn't say who would close games now, but hinted several pitchers might be given the chance depending on matchups.
"Is he the closer now? Up until this hour, yeah," Alou said, noting that Tim Worrell is the only other Giants pitcher with experience closing, and he is on the disabled list with a neck injury. "I hope we have a save situation. We don't really have another closer."
Arizona: 1B Tony Clark, on the 15-day DL since July 17 with inflammation in his right shoulder, played catch for the first time since he was injured. Clark, who had already been hitting, threw from 40 feet for 10 minutes and told Melvin he felt OK. "Being able to throw overhand was a plus," Clark said. "I haven't been able to for five years."
Chicago: LHP Glendon Rusch, from Shorecrest High, could step into the rotation vacancy created by the trade of Greg Maddux to the Los Angeles Dodgers, depending on how much he is needed in relief. Rusch began the season in the rotation before being demoted.
Philadelphia: All-Star second baseman Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 32 games with a single in the sixth inning of the Phillies' 15-2 loss to the Florida Marlins, the second-longest streak in team history. Utley went 0 for 2 against starter Josh Johnson before he singled off the glove of diving second baseman Dan Uggla. The infielder smacked his hand against the grass as the ball trickled away. "He was hitting his spots with all his pitches," Utley said of Johnson. "He was throwing the ball where he wanted to and he was keeping us off balance." Nothing, it seems, keeps Utley off balance for long these days. He went 1 for 3 and was replaced by Danny Sandoval in the seventh.
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