Rowand, Wilson help Giants down Mets
Lincecum takes no-decision despite eight strikeouts
NEW YORK -- Weathering heartbreaking defeats is a prerequisite for every ballclub, but resilience would have been difficult to summon for the Giants if they had lost Sunday's series finale against the New York Mets."That," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "really would have been a tough one to take." Fortunately for the Giants, Aaron Rowand and Brian Wilson spared them from swallowing a large dose of bitterness. They outlasted the Mets, 6-5, due largely to Rowand's two-run, go-ahead homer in the eighth inning and Wilson's imposing save in which he struck out all five hitters he retired. The outcome defined the Giants' entire two-city, six-game trip. Instead of being swept by the Mets and trudging home with a 3-3 record on the journey, the Giants finished 4-2 to remain in second place in the National League West, a half-game behind first-place San Diego -- their opponent in a three-game series beginning Tuesday at AT&T Park. Dismay mounted for the Giants like the debris blown onto the diamond from the Citi Field stands by the gusts that approached 40 mph and ultimately affected the course of the game. They built a 4-0 lead behind Tim Lincecum, who struck out eight in six innings but absorbed his third consecutive no-decision. Lincecum yielded two runs in the sixth and departed after throwing 116 pitches.
"I felt like I gave them a chance to get back [in the game]," Lincecum said. "That's the frustrating part. They kind of fed off that, probably, in the seventh."Ah, the seventh inning. That's when New York scored three times to grab a 5-4 lead, with Jason Bay's wind-blown single driving in the first pair of runs. Bay's hit probably would have been a medium-deep fly under normal circumstances, but the wind blew it back toward the infield and away from left fielder Andres Torres, who just missed catching up with the ball. "The ball kept going in, in. It was amazing," Torres said. Another remarkable aspect was the Giants' inability to score more runs as Mets starter Oliver Perez issued seven walks in 3 1/3 hideous innings. The Giants drew 11 walks, including Juan Uribe's career-high four. It was their highest total since they amassed the same number on Sept. 2, 2000, against the Cubs. But only three of the Giants who drew free passes came around to score. The third one proved to be enough. Pinch-hitter John Bowker coaxed a walk from Jenrry Mejia (0-2) with one out in the eighth. Up came Rowand, who drove a full-count pitch through the wind over the right-center-field barrier, with Jeff Francoeur in dogged pursuit. Given the treacherous elements, Rowand's fourth homer of the season almost seemed more like a gift than a clutch feat to the Giants. "That's all I've got," Rowand said. "That's as hard as I can hit a ball that way. And I honestly thought it was going to be caught." The wind wasn't finished with the Giants, or vice-versa. The breezes benefited Bay again as he doubled to open the Mets' ninth on a ball that "went backward," in Rowand's words, as he and shortstop Uribe converged on it in shallow center field. Undaunted, Wilson said that Bay's hit "kind of made me focus a little bit more and finish the job." Having struck out Frank Catalanotto and Jose Reyes to strand a runner on second base in the eighth inning, Wilson simply pulled the same act. Throwing almost exclusively fastballs, he fired called third strikes past David Wright -- who was ejected for arguing -- and Ike Davis. Francoeur struck out swinging to end the three-hour, 45-minute saga. "He looked determined not to let them put it in play," Bochy said of Wilson. "That's why he's one of the elite closers in the game." Wilson, whose strikeout total was a career high, found sanctuary from the wind on the mound. "The environment's out of my control," Wilson said. "The only thing I can do is try to do everything in my power to throw strikes and get outs. It's not part of my job description to be concerned with wind or garbage." Indeed, this was anything but a throwaway victory for the Giants.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.