Posey punishes Dodgers with game-winner in 10th

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and Klay Thompson — donning a Dodgers cap, for his brother Trayce — must have sprinkled a bit of comeback spirit into AT&T Park Saturday evening.

The NBA champs watched on as the Giants completed a positively Warriors-like comeback, rallying late and walking-off in the 10th with a 5-4 over their arch-rival Dodgers. Buster Posey, with a one-out single, was Saturday night’s walk-off hero.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Persistence and positivity fueled San Francisco to a win that looked to be shaping into a repeat of Friday night’s loss, said Posey:

“It’s a big one, especially for one of those games where I felt like we were on the ropes from the get-go. Really, from the start, we felt like we were defensively trying to get back into the dugout.”

Chris Stratton took his first big-league win despite giving up his first big-league home run, a go-ahead dinger off Adrian Gonzalez‘s bat in the top of the 10th that sounded like LA’s parting words.

Stratton’s composure after the fact earned him that win; Trayce Thompson followed with a single, but the rookie answered with a three-out punch, including a strikeout, to keep it close. Bruce Bochy noted Stratton (W, 1-0, 3.00 ERA) hadn’t pitched in a while — June 2 in Atlanta, to be exact — and marveled at his resolve:

“He regrouped, he could have unraveled, but he regrouped and kept his poise and kept it a one-run game and ends up getting a win out of it.”

Jeff Samardzija agreed, happy to be able to celebrate a third rookie win at AT&T Park (Albert Suarez and Derek Law, the others):

“It was a good pitch he threw to Gonzalez too. … To come back and get those three outs and then obviously being there to get the win and let us pour some beer on him was outstanding.”

Stratton’s heroics followed Santiago Casilla‘s moment of redemption. Casilla gave up the game-winner to Justin Turner on Friday night, but topped him Saturday, forcing him into an inning-ending double play to end the ninth.

Casilla’s inconsistency may be giving Giants fans close-game nausea when he takes the mound, but Bruce Bochy continues to back him up, said Casilla:

“I say thank you to Bochy for believing in me. That makes me say ‘C’mon, Casilla’ … I love to win and sometimes I make a mistake and pay.”

Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ lights-out closer, took the brunt of the closers’ burden Saturday. Jansen (L, 2-2, 1.85 ERA) dealt a near-perfect inning to save Friday night’s win for the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw. Tonight, the Giants had a better sense of what they were going to get down one run in the 10th, said Posey:

“The more times you see somebody, the better. I’ve been facing him for a while now, so … I knew how tough he was going into the at bat.”

Denard Span got things rolling, punching a one-out double to right field. Jansen’s stuff moved up in the zone against Joe Panik, who tied things up at 4-4 with a drive up the middle.

Belt kept things going, blooping a single that landed just in front of Thompson and advanced Panik to scoring position. Posey’s single just missed Corey Seager‘s glove to score Panik and seal the Giants’ MLB-leading sixth walk-off.

The win was a grind, but the comeback was something the offense knew that had to pull out for their pitchers, said Panik:

“For the most part our pitching has done a fantastic job picking up the offense and we talked about that, too. At some point we’re going to have to pick our pitching up and to be able to do it today against their closer like that…”

Both starting pitchers crossed paths on two completely different trajectories and, as it turned out, put the game on their bullpens’ shoulders.

Jeff Samardzija‘s promising seven-win start has taken a sour turn of late. He racked up a 9.00 ERA and a pair of losses in his last two starts. Scott Kazmir‘s year is on the rise. He grabbed a pair of wins and a 2.12 ERA in his last three starts after drudging through an uneven start to the season.

Those trajectories collided, and sort of neutralized each other Saturday.

Samardzija struggled to keep his pitches down, especially his fastball, allowing the Dodgers to rattle his pitch count early.

The Giants rallied quickly and secured their starter a 2-0 lead heading into the second inning. Yasmani Grandal‘s single in the second and Adrian Gonzalez‘s game-tying double in the fifth turned out to be all the Dodgers could collect from their seven hits off him.

But it was enough to force Samardzija into his shortest start yet (4-1/3 innings) and smooth over Kazmir’s relatively rough start. Kazmir took the mound having given up just four walks over his last three starts. He surrendered the mound in the fifth with five on the night, but gave up just three runs on just three hits.

Samardzija said he liked what he was dishing during his last start, one in which he gave up four home runs. Tonight, something was off:

“Today I felt like I was fighting myself a little bit and missing off the plate with my sinker which is uncharacteristic.”

The bullpen had to stitch this one back together, and it took a season-high eight relievers to do it.

The Giants used five pitchers against eight batters in the sixth alone in an attempt o grasp onto a 3-2 lead. A tall task with a frustrating ending: The Dodgers loaded the bases and Cory Gearrin, who’s been solid this season, walked in a run to tie the game at 3-3.

All things considered, best win yet, Boch?

“I’d say so. With losing a tough one the night before, we had the lead, we lost it, they hit a home run there in extra innings and to come back against one of the best closers in the game…yeah I’d put that one near the top.”

This one is definitely up there with Wednesday’s home-run heroics against the Red Sox and April’s n0-hit bid-turned- walk-off win over the Dodgers. 

With the victory, the Giants tied the rivalry series at 1-1, with the rubber game at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.