Posey ignites Giants to game-winning rally

Game 1 between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies was inches away from an extra-inning stunner.

Bases loaded, two outs in the top of the ninth with just one run separating the two, Tyler Goeddel cracked a short ground ball to third baseman Ramiro Peña. Peña spun it to Brandon Belt just as Goeddel’s toes smacked down onto first base.

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

With a loss on the line, the Phillies challenged; the call upheld and the Giants won it 5-4. The anxious dugout rang out, said Jake Peavy:

“I wasn’t sure on the full speed. I was very happy when the replay shortly ran. Will Clark came out of the coach’s room yelling out.”

The win marks their 31st of their last 40 games, which is the most wins in 40 this club has garnered since 1954. The Giants are 21 games above .500 and sit seven games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West.

The Giants are sitting on a pretty large, rich margin of error, conquering their typical June Swoon. But this team knows, as they saw tonight, that big leads can come down a matter of inches, said Peavy:

“The boys did what we almost always do, and that’s to hold on.”

For the offense, success is born out of patience. Down 2-1 in the seventh, bases loaded, Brandon Belt waited for an 0-1 slider that he pummeled to deep center for a rousing go-ahead double:

“I think for the most part it’s to try to keep it the same approach any other time and that’s to get a good pitch to hit. Make them come to us.”

Belt’s double followed a critical series of move-the-line maneuvers. Trevor Brown cracked a leadoff single against righty Severino Gonzalez, prompting Phillies manager Pete Mackanin to call lefty reliever Elvis Araujo (L, 1-1, 5.87 ERA) to face apparent pinch hitter Jarrett Parker.

Bruce Bochy had Buster Posey — who had the day off — ready to go for just that move. Posey sliced a single that escaped center fielder Odubel Herrera‘s glove to set the table.

Denard Span‘s sacrifice bunt moved them over and Joe Panik worked a walk to load the bases for Belt, who notched the Giants’ average to a league-leading .407 with the bags full this season. Big hits seem to have come easily for the Giants during this winning stretch. Bochy said that kind of pressure is familiar territory:

“They’ve done it so many times so it’s not like they’re feeling any pressure up there. They’re used to it and they’re going to do all they can to help us win a ball game.”

The Phillies had something to prove, though, and didn’t let down until the crew chief confirmed that final out. They answered the Giants’ four-run seventh, slowly, but surely, climbing back into the game.

Peavy (W, 4-6, 5.22 ERA) dealt seven innings and gave up two runs, polishing off a 1.91 ERA in his last six starts. He’s kept pace on this consistent path he’s paved through June.

Philadelphia earned what the could squeeze out of him, forcing him to fall vulnerable to a glaring weakness: the extra-base hit.

Peavy had given up 35 extra extra-base hits entering Friday’s game, tied for fifth-most in the league. The Phillies tacked on five more.

Two, from Maikel Franco and Ryan Howard, tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth.

Freddy Galvis doubled to lead off the fifth and scored from third on a sac fly to put the Phillies up 2-1.

Faced with another hill to climb after Belt’s big hit, the Phillies mounted a comeback against what has been a lights-out Giants bullpen.

Franco tripled against Derek Law. Cameron Rupp and Goeddel walked against Josh Osich and Cory Gearrin to load the bases.

Gearrin gave up an RBI single and walked in a run to put the Phillies within one to end the eighth.

It looked like the Phillies would tie it up after loading the bases against Santiago Casilla. But Peña’s throw was perfect. Bochy took a moment to reflect:

“It was an exciting game. That game had about everything. You look at Belt’s hit and you think, OK that won the game for us, but those guys came back and the last play of the game, it’s hard to make a better play with what was at stake. Peña made a great play there to save us.”

Said Belt:

“It’s a lot of fun when you win games and I think that comes from the top down. No one thinks we’re out of the game.”


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.