Backup catcher gives S.F. another walk-off victory
05/05/2013 12:00 AM
05/05/2013 7:56 AM
SAN FRANCISCO – Guillermo Quiroz walked to the plate as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 10th inning Saturday night 10 days removed from his last at-bat in a game. What he did have going for him was a history with Dodgers reliever Brandon League, with whom Quiroz, the Giants' journeyman backup catcher, played during brief stops in Toronto and Seattle.
Quiroz figured League would try to get him out with a split-finger fastball. On the third pitch of the at-bat, League threw one that Quiroz said "started up in the strike zone and finished middle."
As soon as Quiroz hit it, he had a good idea it would land in the left-field bleachers to give the Giants a 10-9 victory and their second walk-off win in two nights. "Usually when I hit them like that in BP, I know they're gone," Quiroz said.
Batting practice is where most of Quiroz's home runs have come. The 31-year-old had two major-league home runs in his career before Saturday night, both coming in 2008 when he played for the Orioles.
This was Quiroz's first walk-off hit in the majors, and it came one night after Buster Posey hit his first career walk-off homer – the first time the Giants have ended consecutive games on home runs since July 2003. The Giants won their fifth in a row despite another shaky outing from Ryan Vogelsong in a back-and-forth affair that saw the Giants cough up two five-run leads before staging another late rally.
Quiroz was the last remaining position player on the bench, but manager Bruce Bochy said there was no doubt about sending him up to hit for Santiago Casilla, the fifth reliever the Giants used on the night.
"We're hoping he finds a way to get on base," Bochy said. "I wasn't expecting a home run off a tough closer like that. Q hasn't hit in nine, 10 days. For him to do that is pretty impressive."
Quiroz, the first Giants player to hit a pinch-hit walk-off homer since Armando Rios on July 18, 2000, is now 4 for 6 as a pinch hitter this season. He sat through more than four hours of baseball before getting his opportunity.
"Situations late in the game like that, I learned not too long ago that you've got to take a shot," Quiroz said. "Swing hard and see what happens."
Few were happier for Quiroz than Vogelsong, who played winter ball with the catcher in Venezuela in 2004. On this night, Quiroz also ensured the Giants would not lose a game they led 5-0 after two innings, before the Dodgers staged a rally that included a seven-run fifth to knock out Vogelsong in his shortest start this season.
Vogelsong got through four innings allowing just a solo home run by A.J. Ellis but saw things unravel in the fifth. After Nick Punto walked to start the inning, Carl Crawford hit a potential double-play ball but beat the relay to first after Brandon Crawford had trouble getting the ball out of his glove.
Vogelsong faced six more hitters and retired just one. Matt Kemp hit a two-run single and Skip Schumaker and Juan Uribe had RBI hits, the latter bringing out Bochy to relieve his starter. Vogelsong allowed a season-high seven runs on nine hits, and his ERA is 7.20.
"It felt better at times. I just couldn't stop the bleeding there," Vogelsong said. "Terrible feeling."
The Giants pulled even on Andres Torres' home run in the fifth and a bases-loaded wild pitch by Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez in the sixth that brought home Buster Posey to tie the score 8-8. Both teams added a run in the seventh. Francisco Peguero scored for the Giants after entering the game in the sixth for Angel Pagan, who injured his hamstring.
Pagan batted in the fifth inning but did not come out for defense in the sixth. The Giants announced he suffered a right hamstring strain and is day-to-day. Bochy said Pagan is "questionable" for today's series finale.
Notes – Bochy reiterated there's a chance the Giants may keep 13 pitchers when Jose Mijares returns from the bereavement list Monday.
Before the game, the Dodgers placed Hanley Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain, which he suffered running the bases Friday.
Call The Bee's Cynthia Hubert, (916) 321-1082. Follow her on Twitter @cynthia_hubert.
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