Belt: 'If the opportunity comes, you want to make the best of it'
Buster Posey's tied the ball game with a two-run home run in the eighth inning Monday against the Diamondbacks. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN FRANCISCO – Cody Ross tried his best to follow Pat Burrell’s example.
You know. Return to your former home. Soak up the polite applause. Then dig into the batter’s box, pop a home run, and enjoy a steady shower of boos thereafter.
Ross didn’t hit a home run. He did hit a two-run single, though – and sprawled in the dirt to take a sure RBI double away from Buster Posey in the sixth. Ross the Boss did everything he could to put a stamp on the joint in his first game at AT&T Park as a former Giant.
But Posey has a way of grabbing attention…
Posey smoked a game tying, two-run home run in the eighth inning, and Brandon Belt set aside his struggles long enough to hit a walk-off single in the ninth as the Giants rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.
Posey was hit in the throat by a pitch in the dirt earlier in the game, but he didn’t stay down for long. In many other parks, he would’ve had a three-homer night.
He was the difference maker as the Giants took the first of what promises to be 19 hard-fought meetings between these last two NL West champs.
Starting pitching report
Last year, Ryan Vogelsong threw quality starts in 19 of his first 20 assignments. He’s only done it once in four tries this year.
He allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings, although it could’ve been worse considering how his night started. The Diamondbacks loaded the bases with no outs on two singles and a double.
Miguel Montero struck out but Ross reached out and poked a high and outside fastball to right field, plating two runs. Vogelsong escaped futher damage when he struck out Didi Gregorius to strand runners at the corners.
Vogelsong retired 11 of 12 hitters before pitcher Wade Miley hit a towering, tiebreaking, Bondsian home run into the right field arcade. Vogelsong snapped a fresh ball into his glove, obviously unhappy at giving up a homer to a career .146 hitter who only had two extra-base hits (both doubles) in 97 plate appearances.
It was the third home run the Giants have allowed to a pitcher this month, counting the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo. The Giants hadn’t given up three homers to pitchers in a month since June, 1953.
It was a bad night to live up in the strike zone, as the ball carried through unseasonably warm air. Vogelsong paid for one more mistake, when Eric Chavez parked one in the sixth inning.
He was on the hook for the loss before Posey’s shot in the eighth bailed him out.
Jean Machi pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Jose Mijares was on the verge of doing the same when Cliff Pennington hit a two-out double in the eighth.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy went straight to his closer, following standard protocol for a tie game at home. It became an instantly intriguing matchup when Arizona sent up pinch hitter Eric Hinske, who so memorably homered off Romo in the 2010 NLDS at Atlanta.
Simply put, Romo is a different pitcher now. He didn’t have that two-seamer, which he threw in a perfect spot. The first pitch broke just enough to hit off the end of Hinske’s bat, resulting in a slow grounder to second base to end the inning.
With that pitch, Romo preserved the tie – and ended up receiving the victory when the Giants won it in the ninth.
At the plate
The Giants got to Miley for a pair of runs in the first inning when Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Posey hit consecutive doubles. Poseys’ shot was a deep drive into right-center that would’ve been a home run in almost any other ballpark.
They couldn’t touch Miley again, but they came close in the sixth after Scutaro led off with a single. Posey followed with a shot into the right field corner that kept carrying, but Ross played it perfectly. He laid out on the warning track as the ball lodged in the palm of his glove.
There was no catching what came off Posey’s bat the next time, though. He followed Sandoval’s single with a shot to dead center off right-hander David Hernandez. It was his second home run in as many nights.
The Giants set up their winning rally against left-hander Tony Sipp when Andres Torres singled and Brandon Crawford put down a sacrifice bunt. Up stepped Belt, who entered as part of a double switch in the top half of the inning.
Belt was just 1 for 12 against left-handed pitching, had lost his starting gig against southpaws and entered the day with just a .227 on-base percentage for the season. He had an intensive early batting practice session with Bochy, and some of those lessons must’ve stuck.
Belt laid off an 0-1 slider, then stayed back on another breaking ball while serving it to left field for the game winner.
Ross made the play of the game, but Crawford made another short-hop look easy when Miley sent a low line drive his way in the seventh.
Center fielder Angel Pagan had a tough night, as he got two bad reads off the bat on balls that dropped in front of him.
The Giants announced 41,294 paid on a warm night in China Basin. For once, you could use your coat as a seat cushion.
The Giants and Diamondbacks continue their three-game series at AT&T Park on Tuesday. The Giants will send Matt Cain (0-2, 7.15) to the mound hoping to win on his day for the first time in five tries. Left-hander Patrick Corbin (2-0, 1.42) gets the start for Arizona. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT.