SAN FRANCISCO They came together despite crushing injuries and unexpected slumps. They stayed together through a spending spree by their closest rivals and a suspension that rocked baseball but only furthered the resolve within the clubhouse.
Saturday, the Giants finally got to celebrate together.
An 8-4 victory over the San Diego Padres clinched the organization's second National League West title in three years and set off a wild celebration for a Giants team that brought in plenty of new faces this season but again found the right mix.
"To be successful in this game, it takes a lot of people," catcher Buster Posey said. "This team is a great example of a lot of different guys getting it done on different nights."
The Giants trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers by 7 1/2 games May 27 but slowly chipped away. When their eighth National League West title came into view, the Giants started firing on all cylinders.
With manager Bruce Bochy preaching the need to "take care of business every day," the Giants won six games in a row to clinch the West, improving to 43-23 since the All-Star break.
That second-half stretch included one attention-getting Dodgers deal after another, but the Giants never looked south. Instead, they quietly pulled away with a lineup that gets contributions from top to bottom, and always followed the lead of Posey, a leading MVP candidate who only increased his production following Melky Cabrera's suspension.
It was one thing for the Giants to state they would move on when the All-Star Game MVP was banned for 50 games August 15 for use of a banned substance; to do it was quite another.
A revolving cast of stars did just that daily.
Saturday's key contributors included Marco Scutaro, a trade deadline pickup who had three RBIs, young first baseman Brandon Belt (homer, three runs), and even pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who delivered a run-scoring single in the second inning.
The Giants now return to the postseason, where a stellar pitching staff led them to the 2010 World Series title. Closer Brian Wilson recorded the final out of that run but pitched just two innings in April before having season-ending Tommy John surgery.
As they did in replacing Cabrera's production, the Giants made up for Wilson's loss with widespread contributions. Five different players have multiple saves, and five relievers got the Giants through the final 3 1/3 innings Saturday. Sergio Romo got Mark Kotsay to fly out to center to end the game.
All season long, the bullpen has backed a starting staff that weathered a stunning slump by Tim Lincecum that nearly cost the two-time Cy Young Award winner his spot in the rotation.
These days, it's Lincecum who is often picking up the rest of the staff.
"The key is there isn't a selfish person in this clubhouse, there are no hidden agendas or intentions," Romo said. "We understand how good we are if we play together, and it's been fun to watch. I watch my teammates, and I feel like a fan, just sitting there and appreciating what they do."
The clinching victory gave the Giants a season-high 11-game lead in the division, and was their third consecutive division-clinching win that came against the Padres, Bochy's previous team.
The Giants improved to 25-9 since Cabrera's suspension and 15-5 in September.
"September is always a tough time to play well, and these guys have done that," Bochy said. "They came out ready to go every single day. That's who we are. You can't drop your guard.
"Every game is important until you get it done."