Quiroz: 'We're here to win games'
Guillermo Quiroz's first home run for the Giants was a walk-off against the rival Dodgers. (AP)
SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants can’t help but make their victories nail-biting, even when they have no business doing so.
After wasting away a five-run lead Saturday, they got a walk-off homer for the second straight night to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-9 at AT&T Park. The deciding blow came from a most unlikely source – pinch hitter Guillermo Quiroz cleared the left field wall with one out off Brandon League to send a sellout crowd into hysterics for a second straight night.
Quiroz, the Giants’ backup catcher, had just eight at-bats on the season before Saturday, though he was 3-for-5 as a pinch hitter.
In Friday’s series opener, Buster Posey hit a walk-off homer to lead off the ninth to beat Los Angeles.
The Giants have now won five straight, and eight of their 18 victories have been by one run. There shouldn’t have been such drama after the home team opened up a 6-1 lead. But starter Ryan Vogelsong couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning, when the Dodgers erupted for seven runs to take an 8-6 lead. The teams battled back and forth into extra innings from that point on.
Giants center fielder Angel Pagan left with a strained right hamstring after the fifth inning.
[RELATED: Pagan leaves with strained hamstring]
Starting pitching report
Bruce Bochy expressed confidence in Ryan Vogelsong before the game, saying they talked in Arizona and that the pitcher fixed something mechanically. It didn’t help Saturday.
Vogelsong couldn’t hold a five-run lead and watched things crumble during the Dodgers’ seven-run rally in the fifth that gave them an 8-6 lead. He had steam coming out of his ears when Bochy finally made the slow walk to the mound to get him after Juan Uribe’s RBI single. The final damage for the right-hander: 4 2/3 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 2 BB.
A big, early cushion appeared to be just what the doctor ordered for Vogelsong, who entered with a 6.23 ERA over his five previous starts. But he simply was not crisp. He was even fortunate to avoid trouble when he got a big out to end the third. He retired Matt Kemp on a fly ball to strand two runners on a pitch that caught way too much of the plate.
Vogelsong’s early exit marked the fifth time in the past seven games that a Giants starting pitcher has failed to complete six innings.
Once again the relief corps was pressed into early duty. But five pitchers held the Dodgers to two runs over the final 5 1/3 innings. That ain’t bad, and it certainly was good enough to give the Giants a chance to come back and win.
At the plate
This game should have been tucked away early based on the scoring the Giants did. Buster Posey delivered a two-run double during a three-run first inning, then the Giants added two more in the second and chased Dodgers starter Matt Magill. The right-hander, filling in for the injured Ted Lilly, lasted just 1 1/3 innings. He walked four and was tagged for five runs.
You can’t argue with the production from the middle of the lineup. Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-4 and scored three runs with an RBI. Posey reached base in his first four plate appearances and drove in two runs. Gregor Blanco added three RBI.
But the scene was set for Posey to be a ninth-inning hero for the second straight night, and he couldn’t come through. He came up with the bases loaded and one out in a 9-9 game against Brandon League, only to ground into an inning-ending double play on the first pitch, sending the game to extras. The Giants also could have done more damage in the sixth, when they loaded the bases with no outs and came away with just one run scored on a wild pitch.
In the field
In a game where so much was going on, it’s surprising that neither team committed an error.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt turned in a slick play in the top of the eighth, fielding A.J. Ellis’ sacrifice bunt attempt and starting a 3-6-4 double play. Marco Scutaro had a chance for another highlight an inning earlier. With a runner on third and one out, he fielded Carl Crawford’s grounder and fired home, but his throw was to the first-base side of the plate and Posey couldn’t apply the tag in time on a close play that gave Los Angeles a 9-8 lead at the time.
An announced crowd of 41,171 saw a wild one, though they weren’t expecting such late-inning excitement after the home team jumped out to a big lead.
Matt Cain will make his seventh start of the season, still looking to bag his first victory. Maybe he can draw some positive mojo from his Opening Day start against Los Angeles, when he threw six scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium. Since then, the three-time All-Star has posted a 7.85 ERA over five outings (25 ER in 28 2/3 IP).