Giants storm slumping Dodgers in wee hours

Dozens of vivid bolts of lightning clashed above AT&T Park Monday night, and thunderous rain fell into the late evening. It was an unusual sight for San Franciscans, serving as precedent for weirdness on the field between rival teams in rare fits of panic and despair.

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

The Dodgers arrived in San Francisco riding a 10-game losing streak, a 15-of-16 skid that’s squished their NL West lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks to 9-1/2 games. The Giants, on the other hand, had to win seven of their final 17 games to avoid losing 100 games for the first time since 1985.

This mid-September series could act as a launching pad for both to avoid historic collapse. Still, the rain fell until 10:50 p.m., with a Chris Stratton strikeout of Curtis Granderson and the national anthem stuck in between.

The Dodgers’ panic ate the Giants’ everlasting downward spiral in one late-night bite, falling 8-6 well after 2 a.m. to extend their losing streak to 11 games and NL West lead to nine games; the same lead that was once 21 games as recent as August 25.

And the Giants are one win closer to avoiding the big 1-0-0. Perhaps the freedom of despair helped more than the wringing grip of panic in a late-night shootout.

Bruce Bochy said before the game that their last two losses against the White Sox were the worst of the season. So he switched Hunter Pence and Denard Span in the lineup to “shake things up.” Span would hit third for the second time in his career.

The shakeup led to an early stake in the game the Giants would never really relinquish. Span hit a two-run splash hit (No. 76) in his three RBI night:

“I made Bochy look like a genius…My whole mentality tonight was eff it.”

Span laughed:

“If only we did that 80 games ago.”

If only just a handful the games this season turned out the kind of production Span and his teammates were able to churn in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Jarrett Parker shot the Giants’ third run into Brandon Crawford territory, where it bounced on the green and 20 minutes later Hunter Pence hit a 366-foot triple and scored on Joe Panik‘s ground out. The Giants had a 4-0 lead on Kenta Maeda before midnight.

As midnight struck the Dodgers loaded the bases and tied the game on a series of accidental hits and bloops. At 12:20 a.m., Yasiel Puig crushed Kyle Crick‘s mistake slider into the bleachers to give the Dodgers their lead.

Span tied it back up again with his third RBI and at 12:41 a.m. Buster Posey hit an infield single to give the Giants a lead. At 12:54 a.m. Justin Turner hit an RBI double, tying the game up again, and at 1:05 a.m Pence gave the Giants the lead. At 1:33 a.m and Posey got another with a double off the left field wall.

The Giants were relaxed during the near-three-hour delay. Stratton could take a seat after his perfect showing–taken out for the skipper’s fear of injury–and new bullpen arm Ty Blach was ready to go, he’d done this before in a double-header with Triple-A Sacramento:

“I was mentally locked in when they put the tarp on.”

That happened about five times today, by the way. It was a 10 p.m. discussion, Bochy said, that made clear that another game would have to be played Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday should the game be postponed.

Instead, the team embraced their time together. Span gave Bochy “two long blinks” when he told the team this game would resume to the closer end of 11 p.m., so he took some time to chat with Hunter Pence and Gorkys Hernandez:

“I talked to Gorkys for 45 minutes. Really got to know him well.”

Steven Okert, Cory Gearrin, Hunter Strickland and Sam Dyson kept the Dodgers scoreless through the rest of the night, putting the game down at 2:11 a.m. The once disappointed skipper had regained hope:

“These guys showed a lot of character.”

Up next

Johnny Cueto is slated to face Clayton Kershaw Tuesday night. The Giants will not be taking BP.


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.