Bochy: 'A much needed win'
Hector Sanchez is mobbed by his teammates after delivering the game-winning single in the 11th inning. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants walked off on the Marlins on Hector Sanchez’s bases-loaded bloop single in the 11th Saturday for their first win of the four-game series.
With the 2-1 victory, the Giants now own eight walk-offs this season and are 24-14 at AT&T Park, but just two games over .500 overall.
Starting pitching report
In his first start since his father Joseph passed away on Wednesday, Barry Zito limited the damage early to finish with one of his best outings of the season.
Zito ran the count full to leadoff man Justin Ruggiano before punching him out with a cutter on the outside corner. The next batter, Ed Lucas, a 31-year-old who was called up on May 29 after a 10-year minor league career, put the seventh pitch he saw from Zito over the left-field wall for his first big league home run.
The Marlins ran themselves out of a run in the second. Zito opened the inning with a strike out of Thursday night’s hero Marcell Ozuna, but was forced back into the stretch after Adeiny Hechavarria singled. Hechavarria took off for second on Zito’s first movement and was caught stealing on a 1-3-6 putout. That proved costly when Placido Polanco followed with a double. After intentionally walking No. 8 hitter Jeff Mathis, Zito struck out pitcher Jacob Turner to end the inning, but needed 48 pitches to get through the first two frames.
Zito settled down in the middle innings, finding his rhythm and taking advantage of strong defense behind him. He erased a one-out walk by inducing a tailor made double-play grounder from Giancarlo Stanton in the third, then turned in his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth.
A weak infield single accounted for Miami’s only baserunner in the fifth and Zito worked around a leadoff single in the sixth thanks to another double-play grounder.
Bruce Bochy sent Zito back out to the mound to start the seventh with 97 pitches thrown on the afternoon. Zito rewarded his manager for the faith with one final scoreless inning, which included a very loud first out, a fly ball to the warning track in center, and a two-out single.
Zito did not factor into the decision, but gave the Giants seven innings instead of taxing a weary bullpen. He allowed one run on six hits and two walks, one intentional, struck out five and threw 66 of his 112 pitches for strikes.
Bochy certainly isn’t keeping Jeremy Affeldt away from pressure situations after the veteran left-hander surrendered leads in three of his last four outings.
With the game tied, Affeldt recorded two quick outs in the eighth before giving up a single to Lucas. With Giancarlo Stanton coming up, Bochy turned to closer Sergio Romo, who struck out Miami’s right-handed slugger swinging on four straight sliders.
Romo and his frisbee slider went back to work in the ninth and the Marlins went down in order. Placido Polanco collected his third hit of the day with a leadoff single in the 10th, but Romo responded with a strikeout of Jeff Mathis before giving way to Javier Lopez. Lopez threw just one pitch, which pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs sent the other way past a diving Crawford at shortstop for a base hit.
Bochy turned to Sandy Rosario to get out of the jam and the right-hander delivered with back-to-back swinging strikeouts. After becoming the first Giants pitcher to retire Ed Lucas all afternoon, Rosario celebrated with some animated fist pumping on the pitcher’s mound.
Rosario returned for the 11th and got some help from Hunter Pence to keep the Marlins off the board. Miami had runners at 1st and 2nd with one out following a double and intentional walk. But Rosario escaped again, striking out Adeiny Hechavarria and getting Placido Polanco to fly out to shallow right, where Hunter Pence gloved the ball just before it hit the ground in front of him.
At the plate
The Giants ran themselves out of a rally in the first inning. Gregor Blanco led off the bottom of the first with a single and advanced to second when Marco Scutaro’s pop fly eluded a leaping Giancarlo Stanton in right. But Blanco was caught too far off second after Buster Posey flew out to center for his second baserunning blunder in as many games.
The Giants didn’t learn from Blanco’s mistakes in the second inning, as Juan Perez was picked off first base following a two-out walk.
The Giants nearly made their third mistake on the basepaths in the first three innings, but were bailed out by a Miami error. Nick Noonan singled to start the inning and moved into scoring position on Barry Zito’s sacrifice bunt. Blanco followed with a comebacker to Marlins pitcher Jacob Turner, who saw an opportunity to nail an aggressive Noonan trying to get back to the bag at second. There was a window for Turner to make the play, but he threw the ball into centerfield instead. The Giants didn’t make him pay, though, as Scutaro hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
The Giants finally broke through against Turner in the fifth on a bizarre sequence of events.
Juan Perez recorded his ninth hit in just his 11th big league game when he ripped a grounder down the left-field line for a double. He advanced to third on Nick Noonan’s groundout to the right side, but was tagged out at home trying to score on Barry Zito’s squeeze bunt. It was a safety, not suicide, squeeze and Turner’s underhand throw home arrived just in time for Mathis to block the plate and force an unorthodox slide from Perez.
The throw home allowed Zito to reach first on a fielder’s choice and he would come around to score on a unique ruling by the umpiring crew in San Francisco.
Blanco turned on a ball that kept drifting deeper and deeper into Triple’s Alley over Stanton’s head. A fan sitting in the arcade seats above Triple’s Alley reached out for a souvenir when the ball bounced high enough to clear the 25-foot wall. Despite protests from Marlins manager Mike Redmond, the umpires ruled that Zito would have scored from first, giving the Giants the game-tying run.
The Marlins retired 15 straight Giants from that point until Joaquin Arias, who entered the game on a double switch, singled with two outs in the 10th.
Blanco led off the 11th with an infield single and moved into scoring position on Scutaro’s sacrifice bunt, setting the table for Posey. Posey drove a ground ball up the middle that didn’t sneak through the infield, but was bobbled by second baseman Derek Dietrich for an infield hit. The Marlins intentionally walked Hunter Pence to load the bases and pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez delivered the game-winning hit with a shallow fly ball in front of left fielder Justin Ruggiano.
In the field
In his first game back since spraining two fingers in his right hand Tuesday, Brandon Crawford showed no rust. He started an inning-ending double play in the sixth by making a clean backhand stop on a sharply hit ground ball. Crawford added a spectacular catch to end the top of the ninth, ranging back to the foul line and snaring Adeiny Hechavarria’s fly ball with a snow-cone catch.
Hunter Pence kept the go-ahead run from scoring in the 11th inning when he made an impressive shoestring catch charging in on Placido Polanco’s shallow fly ball.
Attendance The Giants announced their 203rd straight regular season sellout crowd with 41,683 fans showing up on Ryan Vogelsong’s bobblehead day.
The Giants and Marlins close out this four-game series in San Francisco on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. with RHP Nathan Eovaldi, a former Dodgers top prospect traded to Miami for Hanley Ramirez, set to oppose Matt Cain, who is 5-3 with a 4.55 ERA this season.