Something old, something new in SF win
Sandoval's scamper plates winning run in 10th inning
SAN DIEGO -- Too bad for the Giants that only 13 games remain in their season.No matter what lineup manager Bruce Bochy employs, the result lately often has been the same: rousing offense, stifling pitching either individually or collectively ... and a victory. The Giants continued surging Sunday, outlasting the San Diego Padres, 8-6, in 10 innings. The unsinkable Pablo Sandoval doubled and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th before pinch-hitter Rich Aurilia drew a bases-loaded walk. San Francisco has won eight of its last nine games and is 24-18 since Aug. 1. The tiebreaking rally reflected the Giants' recent peformances. Rookies such as Sandoval, Nate Schierholtz, Emmanuel Burriss, Travis Ishikawa and Eugenio Velez have drawn deserved attention. But they've been complemented by tested pros such as Aurilia, Randy Winn and, in the last few days, Omar Vizquel, who has reclaimed shortstop from the injured Burriss. "You have to have that mix of veterans and young guys," said hitting coach Carney Lansford, who has watched the Giants gather 10 hits or more in nine consecutive games. "They kind of feed off each other." The Giants needed all the help they could get to overcome deficits of 4-1 and 6-2. Starter Barry Zito, who complained that he lacked rhythm, struggled through 4 2/3 innings. But six relievers combined to blank San Diego the rest of the way.
"That game was won by the bullpen," Bochy said.The successful relief corps included rookies Alex Hinshaw, who escaped a bases-loaded jam he created for himself by striking out the formidable Adrian Gonzalez, and Sergio Romo (2-1), who worked the ninth. It also featured the inventiveness of Jack Taschner, who dusted off a seldom-used two-seam fastball to strike out Gonzalez and end the sixth inning, and Brian Wilson, who relied more on his slider than his fastball to notch his 39th save. San Francisco's old and new also blended at the plate. The fourth through seventh hitters went a combined 9-for-19 with six runs and three RBIs. Ishikawa, Velez and 36-year-old rookie Scott McClain composed most of that group. But they were joined by veteran center fielder Aaron Rowand, who singled and scored twice. And Vizquel, 41 years young, stroked a two-run single to provide the biggest hit in the Giants' four-run sixth inning that forged a 6-6 deadlock. It marked the third game in a row -- all Giants victories -- in which Vizquel recorded a run-scoring hit. For good measure, the tying run scored on 36-year-old Dave Roberts' pinch-hit sacrifice fly. "I think that's what they were looking for since the beginning," Vizquel said, referring to the variety of experience that now benefits the Giants. "I don't think things went according to plan. I went down [with a knee injury] and they needed to make a move; Roberts went down and they needed to make a move. At this time when you have 30 players to use, you can really see the difference." Sandoval provided the ultimate difference with his multidimensional skills. Starting at catcher after playing third base Friday and first base Saturday, he successfully blocked home plate in the eighth inning to tag out Luis Rodriguez, who tried to score from second base on Will Venable's single. Sandoval, who has been battling a cold, relished the collision.
"I like the guy hitting me," he said, speaking through sniffles. "That's part of the game."When it was suggested that he seemed to possess a football mentality, Sandoval said, "I'd like to play in the NFL one day." If Sandoval were serious, the Giants would strive to keep him. He made his only hit count by leading off the 10th against Dirk Hayhurst (0-2) with his double and the 6-6 tie still in place. Ishikawa's single left runners on the corners. A 3-2 curveball to Rowand eluded catcher Nick Hundley, who grabbed the ball a little more than halfway to the backstop and fired it to Hayhurst. But the sliding Sandoval beat Hundley's throw. Two outs later, Vizquel drew a walk from Scott Patterson to load the bases, preceding Aurilia's free pass. The Giants concluded their season series against San Diego with a 13-5 record, virtually reversing their 4-14 mark against the Padres last year. San Francisco also improved to 8-5 in extra innings.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.