Thirteenth frame unlucky against Braves
Giants rally to force extras in ninth inning only to fall short
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was a defeat, and it was frustrating, like most of the Giants' setbacks this season.But in their 7-5, 13-inning loss on Tuesday night to the Atlanta Braves, the Giants exhibited a quality they've rarely displayed in 2007: Resilience. Seemingly bound for their ninth shutout defeat of the year, which would have tied them with Pittsburgh and St. Louis for the National League lead, the Giants scored four ninth-inning runs to force extra innings. Then, even after Atlanta scored three runs in the 13th, the Giants loaded the bases in their half of the inning and narrowed their deficit before falling. "I can only speak for myself, but it was actually the first time in a while that I had fun playing a game," said Rich Aurilia, who singled home a ninth-inning run and drew a walk in the 13th. "It felt like kind of a playoff atmosphere. It made me feel good, because a lot of things we've done this year haven't been too much fun. That was a positive to take out of it. We showed that we have a little bit of pride. You hate losing, but at least we went down swinging." The charged atmosphere Aurilia mentioned swirled mostly around Barry Bonds, whose home run total remained at 753, two behind all-time leader Hank Aaron. Challenged all night by Atlanta starter Tim Hudson, who repeatedly fed him fastballs over the plate, Bonds went 1-for-5 with a walk and has gone 14 at-bats since his last round-tripper. Bonds, who turned 43 on Tuesday, also batted .500 in left field. Brian McCann's fourth-inning pop fly fell in front of him for a single that contributed to Atlanta's three-run uprising. But in the 10th, Bonds robbed McCann of a leadoff hit by darting to his right and making a sliding catch. "That changes that whole inning right there," said right-hander Randy Messenger, who worked the first of his career-high three relief innings in the 10th. "Instead of starting with one out, it could have started with a runner on second or third if it got past him. It made me feel a lot more at ease that we were going to get this game." Giants manager Bruce Bochy refused to commit himself when asked whether Bonds would play on Wednesday after working overtime in this game. "We'll wait and see," Bochy said. "I'll see how he's feeling tomorrow." The Giants couldn't have felt too good as Hudson entered the ninth with a five-hit shutout. The Giants had moved only one runner into scoring position to that point. Then Omar Vizquel and Randy Winn walked to start the inning. Hudson recovered as Bonds popped up and Ryan Klesko flied out. But Aurilia, after falling behind on the count, 0-2, scored Vizquel by poking his single to left field. Bob Wickman relieved Hudson and yielded Pedro Feliz's two-run double to left-center field. Pinch-hitter Bengie Molina grounded a single into left, scoring Feliz with the tying run. The hit was typical of Molina, who's batting .373 (19-for-51) with runners in scoring position and two outs. "You can't have a better hitter with the game on the line than Bengie," Bochy said. It wasn't enough. Julio Franco drew a one-out walk from Jonathan Sanchez (1-2) to open Atlanta's go-ahead rally in the 13th. Pinch-hitter Yunel Escobar singled to center field. With a 2-2 count on Willie Harris, Sanchez flung a wild pitch that advanced the runners, but the Giants got a temporary reprieve when Aurilia fielded Harris' grounder and threw out pinch-runner Chris Woodward at home. Escobar and Harris scored as Edgar Renteria doubled into the left-field corner on a 1-1 pitch. Chipper Jones, who doubled during the Braves' big fourth and homered in the fifth, brought home Renteria with a single. The undaunted Giants surged again in their half of the inning. After Bonds coaxed a one-out walk from Wil Ledezma, Ryan Klesko hit a grounder to first baseman Chris Woodward, who entered the game in the top of the 13th as a pinch-runner. Woodward's throw to second base struck Bonds in the back, putting Giants on first and second. Tyler Yates relieved Ledezma and walked Aurilia to load the bases. Feliz contributed once more with an RBI single to center. But Molina flied out on the first pitch and Fred Lewis took a called third strike. "It'd be nice if we could get some things to go our way every once in a while," Messenger said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.