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06/17/08 3:15 AM ET
Giants win on Bowker's three-run shot
Rookie's homer in eighth takes Lincecum off hook for loss
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants need to take Monday night's 8-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers and bottle it, like folks do with all those crushed and fermented grapes a few miles up north in Napa. San Francisco's first Interleague triumph in seven tries this season reminded the team that it can indeed win and generate offense at AT&T Park, which has been an unfriendly home. The Giants turned what was billed as a pitchers' duel between Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander into a veritable slugfest, scoring five eighth-inning runs on John Bowker's three-run homer and Fred Lewis' two-run double to erase a 4-3 deficit and end their three-game losing streak.
The hit by Lewis, who also lined a impressive fifth-inning home run, initially appeared to be superfluous. But San Francisco needed every run it could get to hang on for only its fourth home victory in 15 games, as closer Brian Wilson, pitching for the first time since Thursday, allowed two runs in a laborious ninth.
"This game was big, getting the win and coming alive when we did," Lincecum said.
"Anytime you come from behind, those are great wins," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've had trouble getting the big hit here at home."
True enough. Entering Monday, the Giants ranked 15th in scoring (132 runs) and homers (20) among National League teams in home games, compared with 10th (149) and 11th (28), respectively, on the road.
Bowker, the rookie first baseman/outfielder, has been among the few Giants who have hit capably by the Bay since he ascended to the Majors in early April. He's hitting .273 with four homers and 17 RBIs at home, compared with .256-3-11 away from San Francisco.
"It's a big park, but you can't let it mess with you," Bowker said. "You have to hit line drives. Line drives are still hits."
Bowker would have settled for a sacrifice fly as he batted in the eighth. The Giants had roused themselves against reliever Freddy Dolsi (0-2) on singles by Randy Winn and Aaron Rowand that put runners on the corners with one out. In came right-hander Fernando Rodney, who forged ahead on the count 0-2 against Bowker by throwing changeups. After Rodney missed with a high fastball, Bowker correctly sensed what would follow.
"I kind of had a feeling he was going to come back with that changeup," said Bowker, who planted it onto the right-field arcade. It was the third hit of the evening for Bowker, whose single in the second inning helped produce an unearned run. He also doubled and scored in the fourth.
Besides receiving a curtain call from the thrilled crowd, Bowker was engulfed by delirious teammates in the dugout. The revelers did not include Bochy, who was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing with umpire Tom Hallion after the Tigers, bidding for their seventh consecutive victory, broke a 3-3 tie.
Following Ivan Rodriguez's leadoff triple off Lincecum, pinch-hitter Edgar Renteria lifted a one-out fly to right fielder Winn, whose throw veered to the third-base side of home plate on one hop. Catcher Bengie Molina made a sweeping tag, but umpire Tom Hallion called the sliding Rodriguez safe. Television replays indicated that Molina indeed tagged Rodriguez on the left shoulder before he reached home.
"I felt a body. I tagged [Rodriguez] on the back," Molina said. He added, referring to Hallion, "I don't think he was in a good position to see the play."
That run ended Lincecum's streak of 15 consecutive quality starts, dating back to last season. His primary tormentor was Marcus Thames, who homered twice and drove in three runs. There was no shame in that for Lincecum; Thames has homered in four consecutive games and his last seven hits have been long balls. Still, Lincecum lamented the pitches that Thames clobbered -- a hanging 2-2 curveball in the second inning and a bland 1-2 changeup in the fourth.
"Both of those were probably around letter-high and begging to get hit," said Lincecum, whose homerless streak, spanning six starts, ended at 42 2/3 innings.
Lincecum, a leading candidate for the NL All-Star team, allowed four runs and five hits in seven innings as his ERA rose from 1.99 to 2.21.
"I'm not especially happy with how I did, but I was just trying my best to keep us in the game," he said.
He did. But after Curtis Granderson's two-run single brought the go-ahead run to the plate for Detroit in the ninth, shortstop Omar Vizquel ultimately sealed the game for the Giants by diving for Placido Polanco's one-hop smash and throwing out the Tigers second baseman by a half-step at first base for the final out.
"There are only a few guys that can make that play, and he's the best," Bochy said of Vizquel. "The ball was hit to the right guy in that situation."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.