SAN FRANCISCO -- As good as the Giants bullpen has been, Madison Bumgarner admitted, it's easy for the rest of the team to take the work it does for granted -- to just expect it to put up zeros until the lineup finally scratches a run across.
But even by its lofty standards, Wednesday night was an impressive effort by the relief corps.
San Francisco's pitchers recorded 19 strikeouts, 13 of them coming from the bullpen, tying a club record for most punchouts in a game at AT&T Park. Their work preserved a tie long enough for Nate Schierholtz to blast his second home run of the night -- one that gave the Giants their 10th walk-off win of the season, a 6-5 victory over the Padres in 14 innings.
"Our bullpen really shuts the door, so we feel like if we can get someone in scoring position, that's our goal -- just to get the first guy of the inning on and hopefully get him in," said Schierholtz, who finished 3-for-6 with a double and three RBIs.
The right fielder's 14th-inning bomb was his first walk-off homer in the Majors and, when added to his two-run bomb in the fourth inning, gave him his first two-homer game as a big leaguer.
"It's hard to have a better game than what Nate did tonight," Bochy said.
While the game-winning long ball came off Schierholtz's bat, everyone agreed the heroes of the game came out of the bullpen, which made the win possible with an unbelievable night collectively.
Ramon Ramirez and Guillermo Mota contributed a shutout inning apiece after Bumgarner's six innings of work. Brian Wilson struck out four in two scoreless innings, getting a little help from a great diving play by Pablo Sandoval in the ninth. Sergio Romo tossed a perfect 11th and 12th, striking out three. Javier Lopez threw a spotless 13th and 14th.
Between the ninth and 14th innings, the Giants retired 17 straight Padres batters. They struck out so many batters that fans in the right-field stands had to mortgage the "K" signs from the middle of the pack to the end of the line. Combined with San Diego's 17 strikeouts, the two teams set a Major League season high for single-game strikeouts with 36 overall.
"We couldn't get anything going," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Two good bullpens going at it."
And good might be something of an understatement, too. By the time the night was over, San Francisco's relievers combined to toss eight scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks.
"They won the game for us," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They stepped up. ... We needed all of them, and we were down to one more, so the home run couldn't have come at a better time."
And the win couldn't have come at a much better time, either. San Francisco entered the night on a three-game losing streak, having scored only three runs in each defeat. But, as they have done all season, the Giants relied on their bullpen to keep them around, pulling out the kind of close game they grew accustomed to during last year's championship run.
"I think a lot of it was winning the World Series and just expecting to win every game. There's no more pressure than playing in the World Series," Schierholtz said. "Every game's important to win, but after playing in the postseason, I think it allows a lot of guys to relax a little more."
"It's who we are," Bochy added. "We have tough losses, losing streaks, but they're a very resilient club. They don't get down."
But for a while, it looked like the Giants were heading toward another 5-3 loss to the Padres, what would have been their third straight by the same score.
Down by two and barreling toward another tough home loss for Bumgarner, Sandoval smashed a two-out double to deep center field in the eighth off setup man Mike Adams, scoring Andres Torres and Brandon Crawford to tie the game. The game-saver also extended Sandoval's career-best hitting streak to 17 games.
Torres also put together a nice night at the plate, bouncing back with his best game in two weeks one day after feeling disrespected by Padres reliever Chad Qualls' tag, spike and scream at the plate. The center fielder, struggling at the plate for most of the year, finished the night with three hits -- two of them doubles -- and two runs, sparking the offense.
"Sometimes it's good to play angry, and he was upset. He felt like he was being shown up there. Sometimes that's a good thing," Bochy said. "It's an emotion that some guys play well with. I know Andres has had his struggles, but sometimes something like that can wake somebody up. He came out today, and he was upset about the incident. He felt that was personal. He wasn't trying to show up anybody, so what's important is how he handled it."
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.