Bochy: 'We all need a day off after that series'
Hunter Pence's game-tying home run came with two outs in the ninth and gave the Giants new life. (AP IMAGES)
CHICAGO – The Giants saw the whole course Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Tim Lincecum went into the trees off the first tee, giving up four runs just five batters into the game. Hunter Pence sank the equivalent of a Larry Mize chip from the fairway, hitting a tying home run with his club down to its final strike in the ninth.
And by the end, the Giants turned in a scorecard that allowed them to make the cut.
The Cubs threw five wild pitches in the span of one inning, but it was a balk in the 10th that brought home the tiebreaking run as the Giants pulled out a nutty, 10-7 victory to take three of four in the series.
It was a motley backdrop, all right.
Lincecum gave up two-run homers to Starlin Castro and Nate Schierholtz before recovering from his quadruple bogey to grind out pars, and he was in line for a victory after pinch hitter Nick Noonan’s two-run single put the Giants ahead in a wild sixth inning.
But Jeremy Affeldt was almost as erratic in the eighth, issuing a bases-loaded walk as part of a two-run rally that gave the Cubs a 7-6 lead.
Pence rescued everyone with his solo shot in the ninth off Shawn Camp, the Cubs’ closer du jour. It was the Giants’ first home run of the four-game series and it came on the 31st pitch that Pence saw on the day.
Then the Giants broke through in the 10th when Hector Sanchez and Brandon Crawford hit one-out singles to put runners at the corners and Camp became flummoxed when he tried to look back the runners. The Giants tacked on two more runs when Buster Posey, who had entered as the first baseman on a double switch, singled up the middle for his first hit of the series. Marco Scutaro added an RBI double.
Despite his 5.63 ERA and 12 walks in 16 innings, the Giants are 3-0 in Lincecum’s starts.
Last year, they didn’t win three consecutive Lincecum starts until Sept. 1-12.
Starting pitching report
Lincecum veered into the trees off the first tee box, and two hanging changeups to the bleachers were to blame. He walked leadoff batter David DeJesus, then threw a 3-2 change to Castro that didn’t have its usual, diving action.
Alfonso Soriano lined a one-out single and then came another of those hanging changeups, this one on an 0-1 pitch to Schierholtz. Both homers were crushed through the wind, which was blowing in off the lake.
After a mound visit from Sanchez, Lincecum was able to get out of the inning and pitched efficiently from that point forward. He faced two more than the minimum the rest of the way, and for once, he benefited from a series of strong defensive plays.
Lincecum didn’t walk a batter after DeJesus in the first inning and he struck out four through five innings while throwing 51 of 78 pitches for strikes. It wasn’t a quality start by any means, but for once, fastball command wasn’t Lincecum’s unsolvable issue.
Chad Gaudin pitched a scoreless sixth before allowing his first run as a Giant when Alberto Gonzalez took him deep in the seventh.
But their 6-5 lead didn’t survive much longer, as Affeldt frittered away the lead to cap off a terrible series and deprive Lincecum of a victory.
Affeldt appeared three times in the series, retiring just five of 13 batters. He got in immediate trouble when Anthony Rizzo doubled and Soriano walked.
Affeldt conferred with shorstop Brandon Crawford about how to defend an anticipated sacrifice bunt, and as expected, Schierholtz put one down. With Sanchez pointing emphatically at third base, Affeldt barely looked at the plodding Rizzo and instead took the safe force at first base.
As a result, the Giants had to issue an intentional walk to Dioner Navarro – and that meant Affeldt had no margin for error as he pitched to Luis Valbuena. The lefty was at the mercy of the umpire, too, and a couple of close pitches weren’t called as he ended up issuing a five-pitch walk that forced home the tying run.
Santiago Casilla entered and Alberto Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly that put the Cubs ahead.
But the bullpen held firm after that. George Kontos induced a double-play grounder to erase Javier Lopez’s runner in the ninth, getting the game to extra innings. And closer Sergio Romo improved to 7-for-8 in save chances with a scoreless 10th, surviving a Soriano double and a line drive from Navarro that somehow ended up in the pitcher’s glove.
Kontos, the Chicagoland native and Northwestern University alum, received the victory.
At the plate
What a century it’s been for the Cubs. What a weekend, too.
On Saturday, one of their players put himself on the 60-day disabled list while striking out to end a game. A day later, the Cubs matched their modern franchise record by throwing five wild pitches – and they did it, unbelievably, in the span of one inning.
First, the Cubs gave Lincecum a run in the first inning when Pablo Sandoval hustled from first to third on Pence’s single and then scored on a passed ball.
The day was about to get a lot longer for Navarro, the Cubs’ starting catcher.
The Giants only collected two hits in the sixth inning, but used four walks and five wild pitches in a four-run rally that turned a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 lead.
Pence and Brandon Belt drew walks from right-hander Edwin Jackson to start the inning, with a wild pitch moving Pence to second base. Gregor Blanco followed with an RBI double down the right field line, as Belt stopped at third base. Jackson’s second wild pitch, on ball four to Brandon Crawford, scored Belt and allowed Blanco to take third.
Right-hander Michael Bowden entered and threw the least wild of those five wild pitches – one in the dirt that Navarro kept in front of him. But it got away far enough for Crawford to challenge him, knowing the catcher wasn’t likely to throw with a runner at third.
Noonan followed by lofting a lawn dart that splashed down in left-center field. Once again, Crawford showed some alert baserunning. He got a terrific read and jump off second base, allowing him to score without a play.
Noonan improved to 6 for 12 as a big leaguer, and his first two RBIs came at an opportune time.
The Giants tacked on a run they’d end up needing in the seventh. Pence singled to start the inning and was forced out when Schierholtz unexpectedly dropped Belt’s pop up in shallow right field. Belt stole second base and scored on Blanco’s second RBI double of the game.
Pence rescued the Giants one more time with the club down to its last strike in the ninth. He homered on a 2-2 slider from Shawn Camp, the Cubs’ closer du jour to
Crawford timed his slide perfectly as the shortstop snagged a foul pop far down the left field line in the second inning. But Blanco made the play of the game in left field, snagging Anthony Rizzo’s line drive an inch above the turf and then throwing to first base to complete a double play in the third.
Blanco nearly took Camp’s head off on a slug bunt in the 10th inning, but the pitcher somehow managed to snag the line drive. Then it was Romo’s turn to exercise self preservation in the bottom of the inning.
The Cubs announced 33,326 paid. Praise the Lord for the 21st Amendment.
The Giants gladly will accept a day off Monday to make the leisurely, 90-mile drive past the Kuiper farm and the Mars Cheese Castle to Milwaukee. Three more right-handed pitchers await them at Miller Park. It’ll be Wily Peralta (0-1, 4.50) vs. Barry Zito (2-0, 0.00) on Tuesday, Kyle Lohse (0-1, 2.08) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (1-1, 7.15) on Wednesday and Yovani Gallardo (0-1, 6.61) vs. Matt Cain (0-1. 5.94) on Thursday.