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09/06/09 7:43 PM ET
Homer increases Giants' Wild Card deficit
Valdez gives up 12th-inning shot to end defensive duel
By JR Radcliffe / Special to MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- When Eugenio Velez made a diving catch in left field during Sunday's first inning, few could have imagined a better play in the ensuing 11 innings of baseball -- let alone a slew of them. "I think it's going to be on the Top 10 tonight," said starter Jonathan Sanchez, who was on the pitcher's mound as he witnessed the fully stretched grab that robbed Jason Bourgeois of extra bases. It's going to have competition. There were plenty of other replay-worthy moments in the stomach-twisting 2-1 loss at Miller Park. A diving catch by catcher Jason Kendall to short-circuit a rally in the 10th will get recognition, as will Prince Fielder's game-winning home run off Merkin Valdez (2-1) in the 12th. And then there's the triple play. Though defense was the name of the game, the San Francisco offense was left in continued search of a jolt after failing to put a runner past second base for 11 straight innings. Coupled with Colorado's win, the club fell two games behind in the chase for the National League Wild Card. Giants pitching allowed a meager nine runs in six games on the now-completed road trip but posted just a 3-3 record in that span. "Considering the fact that we were playing in Philly and then came into Milwaukee here where we typically don't do all that well, obviously we could have done a little better," said outfielder Aaron Rowand, who finished 0-for-5. "But I think in the big picture ... it's not a complete loss. I'm sure everybody feels we should have won a couple more games, but this is not the time of year that you look back and say, 'What if' or 'We should have done this.'" Rowand's day took a turn for the bizarre in the sixth, after each of the first two batters singled. The outfielder's sharp one-hopper to Casey McGehee at third base turned into a 5-4-3 triple play -- the first turned on the Giants since Aug. 5, 1998. "I'm thinking, 'Run,'" Rowand said. "I knew what was going on. He was playing right there, and he got a nice candy hop right there on the bag. "Sometimes you feel good at the plate -- I just missed hitting two home runs today, a flyout to third, a ground ball, a triple play to top it off. What are you going to do? That's the way it goes sometimes." Valdez was navigating his second inning of work when he met Fielder with one out and didn't get a breaking pitch below the knees where he wanted. "Everybody out there throws a gazillion mph," Brewers second baseman Felipe Lopez said. "Their whole pitching staff is good. I think that's why they're in the race, because they have good hitters over there who aren't hitting right now. Every game they win or lose is by one run." That included all three in the Milwaukee series, though the team was able to win two after dropping 16 of the preceding 20 at Miller Park. Pablo Sandoval reached base four times to snap out of a 1-for-19 funk and made a game-saving play in the 10th, diving at third base to snag a Kendall line drive ticketed for left field with the bases loaded and two down. Sandoval was just returning the favor to Kendall. San Francisco put two runners on with nobody out against Todd Coffey in the 10th, but Kendall's full-extension grab of Juan Uribe's bunt attempt damaged the opportunity. "Juan has been asked that before, and he's gotten it down," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We had Bengie [Molina] and some other good hitters lined up there." McGehee squibbed a two-out RBI single off Sanchez in the bottom of the sixth, tying the score at 1. Sanchez allowed just the one run on three hits in six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.03 over his past five starts, though his record remained at 1-1 in those outings. "He pitched great," Bochy said. "It was another good outing for him. Really everybody threw well. Valdez threw the ball well and made one mistake to a good hitter." Velez doubled to lead off the game and scored on an RBI single from Sandoval. "There's no room right now for dwelling on stuff, because the season is winding down and you have to concentrate on the next day," Rowand said.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.