SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants must engineer a comeback of sorts if they hope to play October baseball. So in one respect, there was no more encouraging way to win than the path they took in a 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.
They used a big hit from Michael Morse and more lucky bounces than a roulette shark dares dream to rally from a four-run deficit in the sixth inning. Joe Panik tripled and scored the go-ahead run on Gregor Blanco’s well-placed single in the eighth.
And Bruce Bochy bet big on Sergio Romo, tapping his former All-Star closer in a save situation once more.
Romo came through to record his 23rd save, and his first since June 20, and the Giants set up a shot at a winning homestand if they can win the rubber match Sunday. Hey, it’s a start.
Morse’s double was the big hit in the sixth and he has four extra-base hit in four at-bats, dating back to his home run Friday night. Entering this series, Morse had just two extra-base hits in his previous 22 games.
This was the Giants' 26th come-from-behind win of the season and their fourth when trailing by at least four runs.
Starting pitching report
Tim Hudson has just one win in six starts since the All-Star break, but this was the first stinker of the bunch. His stuff was up far too often and he had to work himself back into counts as the Phillies peppered him for five runs on eight hits and three walks in four-plus innings.
Ryan Howard hit an RBI single and Marlon Byrd lofted a sacrifice fly as the Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the third inning. It really came apart in the fifth, when Hudson couldn’t retire any of the four batters he faced. Ben Revere singled and stole second base, Jimmy Rollins walked, Chase Utley doubled in a run and Howard finished him off with a two-run single.
Howard might have the most toxic contract in baseball, but he’s been a nemesis for Hudson over the years. The former NL MVP entered with a .328 average and seven home runs in 67 career at-bats. Only Carlos Delgado, who is no longer active, as hit as many career home runs off Hudson.
Bochy didn’t care to see more, opting to go to his bullpen with Hudson already at 79 pitches.
Juan Gutierrez allowed a double to Byrd but pitched out of trouble to keep it a 5-1 deficit. Revere led off the sixth with a double off Gutierrez, but Panik fielded a grounder and threw accurately for an out at the plate then Javier Lopez pitched around Howard’s double to strand the bases loaded.
After the Giants tied it, Jean Machi tossed a scoreless seventh and Jeremy Affeldt got a double-play grounder in a scoreless eighth to atone for his mistake from the previous night.
Affeldt (3-1) struck out Howard in the ninth and Bochy bypassed Santiago Casilla, who had been scored upon in four of his last six outings and had taken back-to-back losses Wednesday and Friday for the first time in his career.
Romo absolutely dealt while recording his first save since June 20. He froze Byrd on a third-strike slider, and pitched around a two-out single before retiring Grady Sizemore on a fly out.
At the plate
The Giants had just a solo home run from Hunter Pence through five utterly listless innings against Kyle Kendrick, and they even wasted a leadoff triple from Morse in the second inning. (Yes, they have wasted leadoff triples from Morse and Buster Posey on the same homestand. Consult your star charts for the next time that’ll happen.)
But they got a couple of breaks and a mistake to open the door in a four-run sixth inning. It started with Posey’s leadoff single, then Pablo Sandoval eased into first gear after hitting a pop-up. It turned out to be a sun ball, though, and landed between the infielders. Posey was caught in between and Utley, the second baseman, had plenty of time to get a forceout at second base. But he flipped his throw like he was running an option sweep, and it went wide for an error.
Morse followed with another extra-base hit, driving an RBI double to the gap in right-center. Adam Duvall worked a pinch walk and the Giants’ luck persisted when Panik chopped a pitch off the plate that took a Superball bounce over the pitcher’s mound for an RBI single.
Bochy sent up Joaquin Arias to pinch hit for the pitcher, who was batting in the No.8 spot as Brandon Crawford exited along with Hudson in a double-switch. After the Phillies made a bullpen switch, Bruce Bochy burned Arias for Gregor Blanco. The first pitch jammed him, but his dying fly ball was well placed and landed in shallow left field for another RBI single. Angel Pagan followed with a sacrifice fly that tied the game.
Morse doubled again in the seventh but the Giants didn’t push ahead until the eighth.
That’s when Panik tripled to the gap in right-center, and Blanco placed another hit. This time it came with the Phillies playing in and Rollins, the shortstop, leaning the wrong way. Blanco’s ground ball, which would’ve been an out at normal defensive depth, scooted through the left side to score Panik.
Panik’s throw to the plate was the defensive play of the game.
With an official crowd of 41,907, the Giants extended their streak of announcing sellouts to 309 consecutive regular-season games.
The Giants and Phillies wrap up their three-game series on Sunday at AT&T Park. Tim Lincecum (9-8, 4.51 ERA) takes the mound against Phillies right-hander David Buchanan (6-6, 4.40). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.