Giants survive scare in wild win
Bullpen comes up big to stave off Dodgers' comeback bid
LOS ANGELES -- In their 7-6 victory Monday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants matched the number of runs they scored while losing three consecutive games to the Arizona Diamondbacks last weekend.Yet the true source of this triumph -- a typically nutty Giants-Dodgers affair, on the field and off -- was San Francisco's pitching, particularly the work of the sometimes maligned relievers. Sergio Romo, Tyler Walker, Jack Taschner and Brian Wilson retired the final 10 Dodgers batters, each while protecting a one-run lead. They preserved starter Kevin Correia's first win since April 10 and prevented the Giants from squandering a seven-run lead for the second time this season. Walker, Taschner and Wilson, who contributed an inning apiece, played out divergent personal dramas. Walker made his first appearance since being booed off the mound against Arizona last Saturday, when he inherited a 3-2 lead from Tim Lincecum and yielded three eighth-inning runs.
"It feels like the first 1-2-3 inning I've had in a while," said Walker, who recorded his final out on a drive to center field that Aaron Rowand caught with his back against the wall.Taschner pitched with a gaggle of scouts analyzing him from behind home plate. It's no secret that Taschner is among the handful of left-handed relievers coveted by contending clubs, and representatives from Milwaukee and both New York teams, among others, were on hand to watch him strike out a pair of Dodgers. Taschner, who trimmed his ERA to 2.95 with his third scoreless outing in a row, won't allow himself to consider that the better he pitches, the more likely he could be wearing a different uniform after Thursday's Trade Deadline. "I've been a Giant for 10 seasons, since before the turn of the century," said Taschner, who joined the organization as a second-round Draft choice in 1999. "What happens, happens. That's the part of baseball you have no control over. All I can control is what I throw for strikes and how good my beard looks." Wilson looked good while recording an unusual -- for him -- perfect inning that sealed his 19th consecutive save and 28th in 30 chances. The right-hander's always driven to excel, but he admitted that facing the Dodgers gave him extra incentive. "I think it's just the added pressure of the rivalry," he said. "It seems a little bit more important -- and they're in second place, ahead of us." The relievers combined to help Correia (2-5) end a four-decision losing streak that began before he spent almost a month and a half on the disabled list with a strained left side. Since being activated June 15, Correia owned a 6.68 ERA in seven outings, including six starts. Surrending all six Los Angeles runs (four earned) in 5 1/3 innings did little to improve his ERA, but it went a long way toward easing his mind. Correia succeeded and lapsed almost simultaneously, finishing the fifth inning and qualifying for the win despite yielding five runs in that frame. All five runs were in with nobody out and a runner on second base when he retired Matt Kemp on a groundout, Russell Martin on a line drive and Jeff Kent on a 3-2 slider for a swinging strikeout. "I didn't care if I gave up 15 runs. I wanted to get a win," Correia said. "I was really happy with myself for continuing to make pitches and not giving up on that inning." The Dodgers' comeback from a 7-0 deficit included run-scoring hits by ex-Giant Mark Sweeney, who lifted his .092 average with a two-run double in the fifth inning, and Andruw Jones, the .166-hitting center fielder who was benched by Los Angeles manager Joe Torre but drilled an RBI single in the sixth. The Giants built that big lead in equally unlikely fashion. Fred Lewis drove in a pair of runs on balls that didn't leave the infield. All but one of their runs came on two-out hits. They scored five runs in the fourth inning largely because Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda made an ill-advised throw to second base on Rich Aurilia's comebacker, which was too late to retire John Bowker and loaded the bases. A two-run single by Correia, who was 1-for-12, launched a streak of four consecutive hits that included Jose Castillo's RBI single, a low liner that appeared to have been caught by right fielder Andre Ethier. "Little things kept that rally going," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. And before the top of the ninth inning, an overzealous Giants fan, who perched himself atop the visitors' dugout with his legs dangling over the side, was yanked into the dugout by security guards for trespassing into forbidden territory. "I was about to give Taschner a hug and pandemonium broke out in the corner," Walker said. "About four [security guards] piled on top of him and hog-tied him." The gentleman was clad in black and wearing a Giants cap. But even without this garb, Walker, a native San Franciscan, would have known the fellow backed the Giants. "He stayed for eight innings," Walker observed, referring to the well-known tendency of Dodgers fans to leave the ballpark early.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.