Fighting Giants ride Scutaro to walk-off win over Arizona

September 4, 2012, 2:41 am
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SAN FRANCISCO Long before he laced a single past a divingDiamondback for a walk-off single in the Giants 9-8 win, Marco Scutaro was lettingloose in the Giants clubhouse by taking Hunter Pences new motorized scooterfor a joy ride.Five hours later, Scutaro tried to scoot away from a mob scene of teammateslooking to pulverize their new ringer, who came over from the Rockies in a inlate July trade.For all the attention the rival Los Angeles Dodgers received for their multipleblockbuster trades to acquire Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Co., the mostvaluable mercenary so far this season might be a man by the name of Marco.In 36 games with San Francisco, Scutaro has hit .322 with nine doubles, twohome runs and 22 RBIs. He has hit safely in 28 of his 36 games as a Giant. Hes just a professional player, said Buster Posey, whoset the stage for Scutaro with a similarly placed game-tying hit in the ninth.He does it on defense and then he gives you a great at-bat every time. Hes aguy that goes up there with a plan, has an idea of what he wants to do and hesbeen huge for us.What was Scutaros plan?I just go there with a plan and try and get a good pitch tohit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. Thats pretty much my plan.It may seem like a simple approach, but it has led to a successful 11-year MLBcareer and earned praise from his skipper.Ive always admired Marcos play, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Ivealways respected how he plays the game. Hes so professional with how he goesabout his business.It was business as usual when Scutaro picked up his third hit of the afternoonin the 10th inning; and it was the culmination of an impressivecomeback.The Giants scored four runs in the first inning to give Barry Zito an earlylead, but the veteran southpaw, 36-3 in his career when given that muchsupport, unraveled after four sparkling innings. Zito struck out five in hisfirst two frames, but gave up a two-run shot in the fifth and allowedback-to-back singles to open the sixth. That forced Bochy to turn to GuillermoMota, who allowed both runs to score and opened the floodgates for a five-runinning. Down 7-4 after six innings, the Giants scored once in the seventh onlyto watch Arizona take that run back in the top of the eight. But Bochys clubcontinued to claw back into the game, scoring twice in the home half of theeighth before tying the game with a run in the ninth and winning it onScutaros knock in the 10th.Tremendous comeback, especially when you have the four-run lead and couldnthold it and couldnt get that last out in the sixth for a while, Bochy said. Thefellas fought hard off some good pitching.Fighting seemed to be a common theme in the victorious clubhouse.Were just showing a lot of fight right now, showing a lotof character, Zito said. We just keep fighting. Were relentless. Its justawesome.Its always exciting to get a walk-off, but the importantthing is it was a great team effort, Scutaro said. We never give up; we justkeep fighting. We didnt put our head down, we just keep fighting and play hardall the way till the end.The team effort that Scutaro made sure to mention was aproduct of an expanded roster that included players like Jean Machi, whocontributed with a scoreless ninth inning in his MLB debut, and Brett Pill, wholaid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Brandon Crawford, the eventualgame-winning run, into scoring position ahead of Scutaros single.It makes it a little tougher when you have so many playersthere, Bochy said of his inflated roster. The thinking process is a littlebit longer right now because you have more choices and decisions. For example, with Hector Sanchez, wemade the double switch there and Pill goes in the game and lays down a perfectbunt and helps us win the ballgame.It was the first career sacrifice bunt for Pill, who said he wasnt sure if heeven had one in the minor leagues. But he said that he learned buntingfundamentals at Cal State Fullerton and told bench coach Ron Wotus that he wasready to put those skills to the test.We did check with him when he was up here earlier, Bochy said. He can handlethe bat. He laid down a perfect bunt. Theres no question we were going to askhim to bunt at that point.Pills bunt was part of an unorthodox offensive effort in San Francisco, butone that is obviously working as the Giants are in first place and aseason-high 19-games over .500 at 77-58. Long balls are rare at AT&T Park,but clutch hitting has become the norm of late. The Giants went 9-for-15 with runners in scoringposition, including three doubles, a triple and all nine of their RBIs.Its pretty impressive watching this offense do its work,Zito said. They are scrappy. We dont hit a ton of home runs. We just fightand manufacture runs. Pill laid down a huge bunt today and thats a hugeindicator of what weve been doing.What the Giants have been doing is slowly but surelyextending a division lead over the Dodgers. And while Bochy isnt ready to lookahead, he is aware of the extra eyes focused on his club.Theres a lot more attention on these games now, Bochysaid. Every games intense, but the intensity goes up a little bit inSeptember.Every win counts the same in the standings, but it wasnthard to pick up on a vibe that the Giants were aware this one wasnt just anyordinary win.Its huge; every game is huge, as we know, Zito said. Butyoure going to lose a few. And when theres some games where it looks likeyoure going to lose, and then you come back and win, thats just in the bonuscolumn. Its those ones that really make the difference when the years over,the ones that we just kind of scrapped and ended up taking it.Posey, a player who has shown himself to be wary of hyperbole, didnt mince hiswords when he described Mondays win.Its probably one of, if not the best, wins of the year,he said. Especially just bouncing out to an early lead and the DBacks comingback and taking the lead. It felt like we were a little flat there in themiddle of the game. To pick it up and come away with the win is big.

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