The Dodgers flew into San Francisco lugging an 0-6 record at AT&T Park. Los Angeles starter Zack Grienke took the mound holding a 7-0 career record over the Giants.
Something had to give.
To settle the matter, the Giants (82-74) and Dodgers (87-69) dragged the fight into extra innings — 12 innings, to be exact — before pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza delivered a sacrifice fly to score Marlon Byrd from third, securing the 3-2 win Monday night.
Byrd led off the 12th inning with a single, then Kelby Tomlinson took him to third on a line drive to right field.
Grienke’s record against the Giants stays perfect, but the Dodgers move to 0-7 at AT&T Park.
The Giants are grasping onto this season by a single big toe. One loss to the Dodgers during this four-game series and the entire team and its fans will watch their rivals revel in postseason glory as the champagne sprays in the visitor’s clubhouse, for a change. Jake Peavy was not going to let that happen.
Monday night belonged to Peavy (7 IP, 1 run, 1 hit, 4 strikeouts), who was tossing his best stuff against a potent Dodgers lineup. He gave up one run in the third thanks to a Corey Seager RBI single driven up the middle to score Carl Crawford from second.
Crawford had driven double material to right field, but Marlon Byrd stopped it cold — tearing up the outfield in the process — to hold Crawford at a single. He stole second anyway; it was his and he wanted it.
Peavy’s said throughout these late months that he’s only felt sharper as the season’s progressed. Today the added pressure wasn’t weighing him down, but lifting him up:
“It’s nothing more than a Game 7. When you know you have to win, like I said, you feel a little bit different than a normal game in June.”
That’s it. This series with the Dodgers is a series of Game 7s–a situation the Giants thrive in. Catcher Trevor Brown said it’s just fun for the rookies to play the game:
“We’re playing our National League rivals at home and fighting for our lives.”
It was a night for rookies, and Seager was the Dodgers’ representative going 2-for-5. He’s reached base in all 20 games he’s played for the Dodgers. The Giants, whether they want ’em or not, have a plethora of rookies gunning for approval and making the most of this playing time–a mix that’s kept this team riding the edge.
Brown was Monday night’s star. He was a Dodger fan growing up–though the one-time middle infielder looked up to the Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeters’ of baseball– he attended UCLA before getting drafted by a NorCal rival. You wouldn’t have guessed he was ever sympathetic to the Dodgers based on his performance Monday.
He knocked in the Giants’ first two runs in the second to secure Peavy’s eighth win. It all started with a Brandon Crawford one-out, first-pitch opposite field single and Marlon Byrd reached on a fielder’s choice. Kelby Tomlinson singled past Seager at short to put runners on first and second for Brown.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Brown doubled to the alley, clearing the bases and giving the Giants an early 2-0 lead. Said Peavy:
“Gotta give big props to Trevor Brown. To be at home, for maybe a week or so, come off the couch and jump right into the mix and to catch a must-win game against the Dodgers…to get the hit and to be as good as he was behind the plate was remarkable.”
Peavy and “Brownie,” as Peavy likes to call him, formed a solid battery. Brown caught Peavy back during his rehab assignment; Brown’s seen Peavy’s stuff evolve:
“Everything has just been sharper. His velo was down a little in the minors, I think he was in the high 80s and now he’s in the low 90s with his fastball. We used his cutter a lot tonight against those lefties. We were trying to backdoor his cutter a lot.”
The rookie and the vet weren’t on the same page inning to inning, said Brown, but the conversation in between kept things interesting and educational for Brown:
“I didn’t have a great feel for their hitters just because this was the first time I’d faced their hitters and he had a lot more games pitched against them so he had a better idea of what he could do against them.”
“We had gone over it before the game but once he’s out there and he’s gets in his rhythms and I was just putting down what I thought, and he was shaking, and we were cruising.”
It was looking like a clean escape for the Giants, they’d put off what seems to be an inevitable, painful rival’s celebration on their own turf for another night.
But Josh Osich, after finishing off three righties to seal the eighth, allowed base hits to lefties Seager and Adrian Gonzalez, who moved to scoring position on a sac bunt and tied the game 2-2 on a sacrifice ground ball from Andre Ethier off Santiago Casilla to send it to extras.
Casilla gave up two hits in the 10th and Javier Lopez saved the day, striking out a hot Seager bat, said Bruce Bochy:
“Kid is swinging good and I know Casilla, he was probably a little disappointed he didn’t get to face him but I got Lopez ready. There’s so many times he’s saved our neck, and that’s a big strike out.”
So the Giants live to see another day. They’re either masochists or evil geniuses as they take one step toward the necessary sweep in pursuit of the playoff gates.
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