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Sandoval homers as Giants beat Cubs

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Pablo Sandoval played his final game before leaving camp to join Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic. He left a good impression.

Sandoval hit a towering home run, the only blemish for Carlos Villanueva on Saturday, and a San Francisco Giants split squad beat the Cubs 9-7.

"I'm getting more exciting every day," Sandoval said. "I feel ready. I didn't do as much in winter league. I really wanted to be ready for the WBC."

Gregor Blanco drove in two runs for the Giants, who are losing eight players to the WBC after this weekend.

"I'm looking to the challenges ahead," Sandoval said. "We have a lot of guys from several teams on the club."

Should Venezuela reach the finals, to be played at AT&T Park, it would mean something extra for Sandoval.

"That would be the best," he said. "I have so many great memories in that park, like last year's World Series."

Sandoval was the World Series MVP in the Giants' sweep of the Detroit Tigers.

Villanueva, a candidate for the Cubs' starting rotation, gave up one run on four hits over three innings. He walked one and struck out two.

The home run pitch to Sandoval was just a few inches off the ground.

"I've known about him for a long time," said Villanueva, originally signed by the Giants as an amateur in 2002. "Playing in the same organization you always know about guys."

Despite the home run, Villanueva said he felt his best in his final inning.

"My last start I didn't get a chance to work through my mechanics," he said. "But that third inning I had better rhythm."

Villanueva, with seven years in the majors, signed with the Cubs as a free agent.

"Front office guys, they do their scouting on all the players," Villanueva said. "I did my scouting of the front office guys. I got to choose this time and I wanted to be comfortable and surrounded by guys who put team first. I like what we are building here. We have guys with that kind of personality."

Yusmeiro Petit gave the Giants a nice outing in place of Tim Lincecum, who was scratched because of a blister on his right middle finger. Petit gave up a hit in three innings with one strikeout.

"He pitched very well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Steve Clevenger had two hits and drove in two runs and Dioner Navarro added two RBIs for the Cubs.

Giants infielder Kenuke Tanaka had two hits, drove in a run, stole a base and made a nice defensive play from second base in his quest to find a permanent job in the majors.

Adam Duvall, who figures to see more action while Marco Scutaro plays for Venezuela, hit a two-run homer in the sixth.

Johnny Monell, who has been bouncing around in the Giants' organization for six years, added two hits and drove in a run.

NOTES: Lincecum said he didn't think the blister would affect his preparation and he was still going to play catch. ... Giants LHP Jeremy Affeldt only got one out, giving up three runs on two hits and three walks after throwing three scoreless innings. ... Giants closer Sergio Romo pitched a perfect inning. ... RHP Marco Estrada will pitch for the Cubs today against the Milwaukee Brewers and RHP Nick Struck starts the Cubs game at the Los Angeles Angels. ... LHP Barry Zito takes the mound for the Giants against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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