video thumbnail

OAK@SF: Burriss lines a walk-off RBI single to right

SAN FRANCISCO -- With 10 1/2 innings in the books and the Giants' bench all but cleared, Darren Ford stood at second base and momentarily locked eyes with Emmanuel Burriss, walking up to the plate with a chance to drive in the winning run. The two had shared many similar moments in Fresno as Minor Leaguers, and Ford had no doubt history would repeat itself Sunday afternoon in AT&T Park.

Burriss, meanwhile, wasn't quite so sure.

"It was more so, 'If I get a hit, you better score.' It wasn't so much, 'I'm guaranteeing a hit,'" Burriss said. "With his speed, I knew if I put the bat on the ball and hopefully get a knock, he should be able to score."

The hero of Friday night's walk-off win over the cross-bay rival A's, Burriss delivered once again. As did Ford, nicknamed "The Bullet" for his speed on the basepaths. Burriss turned the first pitch into a line-drive single to right field and Ford beat a surprisingly close play at the plate to give the Giants (27-19) a 5-4 win over the A's (22-25).

The victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 42,288 was San Francisco's ninth straight at AT&T Park, its 13th in 18 home appearances, its 11th by one run and its seventh on a walk-off hit.

Seemingly everyone has played a part in the Giants' late-game heroics dating back to last year's dramatic run to the World Series, and the significance of Burriss and Ford stepping up when it mattered most wasn't lost on either of them. Burriss described himself and Ford as "two of a kind" and almost like family, as the two became close friends during the playoff run last year. Ford said they now spend a great deal of their time together, even visiting each other during the offseason.

They have been used sparingly this season, combining for only 28 at-bats, but Ford and Burriss were ready to make their mark on the season and pick up their teammates when they heard their names called.

"It means a lot, especially considering, for the most part, these guys won a World Series for us," Burriss said. "This year, being able to actually physically help the team out, it means a lot."

Ford came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the 11th, the second-to-last man off the bench taking the pitcher's spot in the lineup. He smacked a single into right field off A's lefty Brian Fuentes -- his first in AT&T Park and his first off a Major League lefty -- and stole second despite everyone in China Basin knowing he would. Fuentes then intentionally walked Buster Posey, who joked afterward he felt "kind of out of place" between the team's two fastest players, and set up Burriss to record the game-winning single on the first pitch of the at-bat.

"It's a game of little breaks, taking advantage of things," A's manager Bob Geren said. "They got a game-changing hit, and that was the difference."

But that certainly wasn't the only game-changing hit Sunday afternoon.

The A's took a 4-2 lead heading into the eighth inning after Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt entered for Jonathan Sanchez in the seventh and gave up a single to Cliff Pennington. Gio Gonzalez's sacrifice bunt moved the runner into scoring position, then Coco Crisp doubled and Daric Barton knocked a single to left, erasing the Giants' lead and giving the A's a 3-2 advantage. They padded their lead in the eighth, when Mark Ellis scored on Hideki Matsui's sacrifice fly to left field.

Nate Schierholtz erased the deficit and tied the game with a tough pinch-hit at-bat in the bottom of the eighth. Schierholtz ended an eight-pitch battle against right-hander Grant Balfour by slamming a 3-2 fastball over the right-field wall for the second pinch-hit home run of his career.

"It's not easy, the pinch-hitting thing. You don't see many young players handle it as well as Nate does," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "To come up in that situation, I think he knew what we were looking for, and he got a pitch he could handle and carried it out. He's done a lot of it, so I think he's gotten comfortable with it."

From there, San Francisco relied on its bullpen to hold the line, and the relievers did just that. Save Affeldt's difficult outing, the rest of the Giants staff found success on the mound. Lefty Jonathan Sanchez only gave up one run on five hits and two walks in six innings of work, Ramon Ramirez gave up one run on Matsui's sacrifice fly, and Dan Runzler recorded two outs to escape the eighth inning.

Brian Wilson then tossed a scoreless ninth, and right-hander Sergio Romo carried the team the rest of the way, giving up only one hit and striking out three in the final two innings to set up the two unlikely heroes in the bottom of the 11th.

"To be out on the field at the same time and have the opportunity to come through and actually succeed at that, it means the world to us," Burriss said. "When it comes down to it, it's one ballgame, and this team did everything it could to set us up to be in that position." Comments