Wild pitch ends dandy duel in Giants' favor
Schierholtz dashes home with winning run in 11th inning
SAN FRANCISCO -- AT&T Park didn't house your run-of-the-mill baseball game Saturday night, but rather a pitchers' convention that got so good, it ran late. With Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry and Nolan Ryan on hand to shake hands with 301-game winner Randy Johnson, Matt Cain turned in another stellar performance. Even Texas' Derek Holland, who came in with a 6.63 ERA, picked up some pitching prowess in the night air.
The hurlers were so good, in fact, that the teams needed an 11th inning and a wild pitch to end Game 2 of their series, as the Giants secured their fourth walk-off victory by a slim 2-1 margin.
The Giants and Rangers traded solo home runs early Saturday -- Aaron Rowand's in the third inning and Ian Kinsler's leadoff blast in the sixth -- but it was certainly a duel between arms. Cain left with a no-decision after eight innings, having allowed just the one run on three measly hits. Holland allowed one run on four hits in a career-best seven innings.
In-game addition Nate Schierholtz led off the final inning with a double and, three batters later, scored from third base on a Jason Jennings' wild offering. Schierholtz said third-base coach Tim Flannery "was all over him about staying on the balls of my feet," so when Jennings (2-3) bounced an 0-2 slider to Bengie Molina and Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia couldn't come up with the ball, he scampered home free.
"You just have to read the ball, see it [hit] down, and see it how it kicks away," Schierholtz said of his reaction on the play. "That one wasn't really close. [It] kind of kicked all the way to the dugout."
Earlier Saturday in the clubhouse, Giants team members coincidentally watched the Chicago Cubs also win their game in the same way.
"Anyway you can win is a win," Schierholtz said, after showing off his Ryan-signed baseball souvenir.
In what was a great night for pitchers, Cain didn't get the individual win, though he didn't look at all disappointed afterward. He and two Giants relievers held the Rangers to just three hits in 35 at-bats.
"It's harder to pitch better than [Cain] did," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Seeking to become the first National Leaguer to reach the 10-win plateau this season, Cain received just one run of support for the second time this season. He had retired six straight when Kinsler mashed a "bad pitch" to tie the game at one run apiece. Cain finished his outing by retiring eight Rangers in a row.
"It was definitely kind of a thing where you wanted to do well because you've got Hall of Famers sitting there being able to watch you," the pitcher said.
Cain's relief help pitched like it was inspired, too. Aided by fine defensive plays from Matt Downs and Rich Aurilia in the ninth and simply employing his mid-90s mph heater in the 10th, Brian Wilson retired all six hitters he faced. Sergio Romo (2-0) won his second game in as many nights but certainly gave the Rangers a chance to win the game in the top of the 11th.
Against Romo, the power-abled Rangers played a National League brand of baseball, advancing the potential game-winning run in Kinsler to third base after a sacrifice bunt and flyout. Romo, who hasn't allowed a run in his last seven games, got ahead of the next batter, Nelson Cruz, 0-2 and struck him out to end the threat. He pumped his fist and sprinted off the mound, no doubt finishing what Cain had started.
"Cain has been off the chain this year. We just want to win games for him," Romo said. "If he's going to leave it on the field, we'd like to leave it on the field on the winning side."
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.