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SAN FRANCISCO -- With Pablo Sandoval going all Mr. October and Barry Zito outpitching Justin Verlander -- yes, you just read that sentence -- Gregor Blanco's defense in left field was reduced to a footnote.

That's a shame, because Blanco made a pair of stellar diving catches to rob the Tigers' biggest bats of hits. He got Miguel Cabrera in the third inning and Prince Fielder in the sixth.

"That second one that Prince hit, it had some funky spin on it, and that was so impressive because not only did he dive, but he had to stay with the path of that ball," Zito said. "Blanco is just -- he's such a huge part of this team in every way."

Blanco, who made a great catch to save Matt Cain's perfect game in June, took it all in stride.

"That's part of the game," he said of his defense. "I always try to be there for my pitchers."

FREAKY RELIEVER

Might manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti have discovered the antidote to Tim Lincecum's season-long struggles? He has been getting hammered as a starting pitcher, but the kid seems like a natural coming out of the bullpen.

Lincecum did it again Wednesday, not allowing a baserunner in 2? innings, and striking out five of the seven Tigers he faced.

Lincecum pointed to a couple of factors in his favor, noting that he has pitched strictly from the stretch as a reliever, simplifying his approach, and that he has gotten himself to focus on each pitch rather than thinking ahead. Mostly, though, the two-time Cy Young award winner credits his open-minded acceptance of the reliever's role.

"For me, it's not something that I want to make a regular thing out of," Lincecum said. "But if I'm gonna have to do it now, then I'd better be positive about it and know that it's not about me. It's not about whether I'm gonna get my start, it's about winning."

DESIGNATED CONUNDRUM

It's frequently the first question that hits the National League manager when he gets to the World Series: Who will be your designated hitter when you play in the American League series?

It came up pretty quickly before Game 1, and Bochy acknowledged that he and general manager Brian Sabean were still sorting out the issue.

"I have a couple options with (Aubrey) Huff and (Hector) Sanchez," he said. "I have not named them yet, and I'll reserve that until we get to Detroit. And I think I have a couple other options, too. I mean, I could put (Joaquin) Arias at third base and DH Sandoval, but these are things we're talking about now."

One option Bochy apparently is not seriously considering: putting Sanchez at catcher and DH-ing Buster Posey.

"I'd say right now Posey is going to -- he'll do all the catching," Bochy said.

NOTES

Sandoval's power show was the first three-homer game at AT&T Park since the first game at what was then called Pac Bell Park. The Dodgers' Kevin Elster smacked three on April 11, 2000, in the inaugural game at Pac Bell Park, as it was then called. The last Giant with three home runs in a game was Barry Bonds, who did it on Aug. 2, 1994, against the Reds at Candlestick Park. Also, Sandoval's 13 total bases are second most in World Series history; Albert Pujols had 14 for St. Louis in Game 3 last year.

Since 1993, every home team to win Game 1 has gone on to win the World Series.

The Giants now have won each of Zito's past 14 starts, including three in the postseason.

Wednesday's game was just the second in World Series history that featured three Cy Young winners -- Zito, Verlander and Lincecum. According to Elias, the only other time was Oct. 14, 1983, when Steve Carlton pitched for the Phillies and Mike Flanagan and Jim Palmer threw for the Orioles.