SAN FRANCISCO -- If you remain concerned about Buster Posey's health, bear in mind that his mobility on his surgically repaired left leg Tuesday night helped the Giants claim a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.Posey stole third base in the fifth inning and put himself in position to score the Giants' final run. It wasn't a tiebreaking, go-ahead or standup run, but in such a taut contest against one of the National League's elite teams, it made a difference. "It turned out to be huge," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the run that resulted from Posey's larceny. "It takes a little pressure off the pitcher." Four pitchers, precisely. The final three were relievers, who enabled the bullpen to pass its first test without the sidelined Brian Wilson in the closer's role. After Madison Bumgarner lasted one batter into the seventh inning, Clay Hensley and Sergio Romo each pitched perfect innings before Santiago Casilla, Wilson's replacement, survived Juan Pierre's two-out single in the ninth to earn his first save. "We're not really fazed by it," Romo said of the Wilson-less bullpen. Not intending to employ a pun, Romo added, "It hurts to lose a guy of his caliber, but the rest of our staff is very well-armed. Without a good seventh-inning guy, there's no good eighth-inning guy, and without a good eighth-inning guy, there's no closer." There's also no closer without a lead, which the Giants extended with their two-run fifth inning that lengthened their edge to 4-1. Pablo Sandoval doubled to open the inning and lengthen his season-long 11-game hitting streak. Posey singled. One out later, Nate Schierholtz's third single of the evening scored Sandoval.
"He looks determined to stay out there," Bochy said of Schierholtz, who has been in and out of the lineup.With Brandon Crawford batting, Posey suddenly broke for third base and slid headfirst into the bag. Catcher Carlos Ruiz's throw appeared to beat Posey. But television replays showed that Posey appeared to touch the base with his left hand before third baseman Placido Polanco got his tag down. As Bochy mentioned, Posey's thievery proved essential, since it allowed him to score as Crawford hustled to first base and beat out what would have been the back end of a double play. "I just felt like I had an opportunity to get to third with less than two outs and get us a better chance to score maybe," Posey said. "I haven't looked at the replay yet, but I did feel like I got in there." Posey also recorded his second straight three-hit game, marking the first time he had achieved this feat since he victimized Arizona on May 29-30, 2010 -- the first two days of his recall from Triple-A that season. That's a significant step forward for Posey, given that he's playing with a case of the shingles and is overcoming the inactivity from missing most of last season.
"I feel like I have two strikes [during] every at-bat right now," he said.San Francisco's three-run advantage appeared vulnerable in the Phillies' sixth, when they loaded the bases with nobody out. But Bumgarner toughened as John Mayberry Jr. popped up, Ruiz delivered a sacrifice fly and Freddy Galvis grounded into a force play. "The kid's pretty good. He knows how to pitch," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He can bury the ball inside on righties. He can hit the outside corner. ... When he really had to get us out, he did." This was Bumgarner's first start since he signed his five-year, $35 million contract extension, but that wasn't what made this outing memorable for him.
"I was a little amped up for some reason; I don't know why," the typically impassive left-hander said. "I felt good, though."It was that kind of night for the Giants, who collected 13 hits but wasted many of them. Their energy occasionally spun out of control, but they regained their equilibrium quickly enough. Crawford exemplified this. He mishandled Shane Victorino's grounder for an error to begin the game, then dropped a low throw from Bumgarner, who fielded a potential double-play comebacker. Crawford initially received a second error, but it was later charged to Bumgarner. But Crawford responded by collaborating with second baseman Emmanuel Burriss on two double plays and ended the game in spectacular fashion by diving to his right to snare Victorino's one-hop smash, then straightening and unleashing a searing throw to first for the out. "That's what separates the average player from the good player -- the guy who can put [mistakes] behind him and keep his focus," Bochy said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.