Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

The Giants' Gregor Blanco, right, celebrates with Pablo Sandoval after scoring on a sacrifice fly by Angel Pagan in the fifth inning Thursday against the Chicago Cubs.

Giants making a habit of comebacks

Published: Friday, Apr. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Saturday, Apr. 13, 2013 - 7:27 pm

CHICAGO – Last season's comeback kings are back to their old tricks, albeit on a smaller scale.

A Giants team that made a habit of escaping elimination en route to a World Series title has two big comebacks in the past three games. Thursday's 7-6 win over the Chicago Cubs came after the Giants fell behind 5-0 at Wrigley Field.

"We just have the right attitude," center fielder Angel Pagan said. "We protect the lead or we go get the lead."

On a damp, miserable day in Chicago, the Giants did a little of both.

Two days after overcoming a four-run deficit to the Colorado Rockies thanks to Brandon Crawford's three-run homer, the Giants took a different tact. This time, they inched back on a series of self-inflicted wounds by the opponent.

Already leading 1-0, the Cubs put up four runs against Ryan Vogelsong in the third inning on Anthony Rizzo's homer and a string of singles from the bottom of the lineup. Vogelsong has been roughed up a bit in his first two starts and said he went back to the dugout after the rally and asked pitching coach Dave Righetti, "What the heck is going on?"

"I haven't felt like I should," Vogelsong continued. "Or like I did in spring training. I'll hit the video a little bit."

The Cubs batted around in that third inning, but the Giants followed up by sending nine hitters to the plate in consecutive innings. As Pagan said, it was time to go get the lead, and the rebuilding Cubs provided a helping hand.

The four-run fourth inning was extended by Starlin Castro's fielding error on a two-out Vogelsong grounder to short. Pagan followed with a grounder to the right side that again should have ended the inning, but second baseman Brent Lillibridge opted not to throw to first when he saw that pitcher Scott Feldman was late covering the bag.

The mistakes kept the inning going for the top of the Giants' lineup, and Pablo Sandoval made the Cubs pay with a two-run double.

The Giants tied the game 5-5 when Vogelsong was walked with the bases loaded in the fifth. A sacrifice fly from Pagan scored the go-ahead run and Crawford's single plated a seventh straight unanswered run for the Giants.

"Our team has got a lot of fight," closer Sergio Romo said. "We try to win every inning. It's just a good example of everyone pulling together and that never-say-die attitude. It's a nice little carryover from (the postseason) for sure."

After getting the lead, the Giants had little trouble protecting it. Vogelsong retired the final 10 batters he faced, and Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla bridged the gap to Romo, who put the tying run in scoring position but struck out Rizzo to clinch the fourth straight win for the Giants.

The game marked the first time since 2008 that the Giants won after trailing by five or more runs, and the conditions for a comeback were hardly ripe.

The team's flight to Chicago landed a little after midnight, and when the Giants got to Wrigley Field for the day game, they were confronted with steady rain and 40-degree weather.

Marco Scutaro was given a rest day and the Giants' lineup didn't miss a beat. Crawford, hitting in Scutaro's No. 2 spot, reached base four times. Nick Noonan took Scutaro's spot at second base and had three singles in his first career start.

Noonan made the Opening Day roster with a late spring surge and has started the season 5 for 11.

"I haven't changed a single thing since last year," Noonan said. "I've just been playing my game."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Alex Pavlovic



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