Giants manager Bruce Bochy wore out a path walking between the dug- out and the mound making pitching changes Saturday.
He watched his team give up two leads and allow a late tiebreaking home run for the second consecutive day. In the end, he said, it was one of the most satisfying wins of the season.
The Giants rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to overcome Adrian Gonzalez’s go-ahead homer in the top of the inning and notch a dramatic 5-4 win on Buster Posey’s game-winning single.
“Losing a tough one the night before,” Bochy said, “to come back against one of the better closers in the game, playing the Dodgers, an exciting game, fans were into it — yeah, I’d put that (win) near the top.”
Jansen had allowed one run in his 11 previous outings against the Giants. But a lineup that had three hits in the first nine innings Saturday got four against Jansen.
Denard Span roped a one-out double to right field and scored on Joe Panik’s soft single to left-center. Brandon Belt blooped a single to right, and Posey shot a single past Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager for the Giants’ majors-leading sixth walk-off win of the season.
“For the most part early this season, our pitching has done a fantastic job picking up the offense,” Panik said. “And we (the hitters) have talked about it, too, that at some point we’re going to have to pick our pitching up. Definitely a great win, just to kind of see a little life out of this offense.”
Rookie reliever Chris Stratton earned his first major-league win despite allowing a home run to Gonzalez, the first batter he faced in the 10th, who hit a changeup the opposite way just over the wall in left field. Pitching for the first time since June 2, Stratton then gave up a single to Trayce Thompson but retired the next three batters in order.
“He could’ve gotten unraveled,” Bochy said, “but he regrouped, kept his poise, kept it a one-run game and ends up getting a win out of it.”
Stratton also got the traditional beer shower for his first win, which he said “was freezing. I didn’t know about that at all, either, so the guys surprised me. Man, that was cold.”
Stratton was the second-to-last man available in the Giants’ bullpen as Bochy used nine pitchers in the game – five in the seventh inning alone while trying to protect a 3-2 lead, a strategy that went for naught.
Derek Law issued a leadoff walk to Enrique Hernandez. Josh Osich allowed a Chase Utley single but made a sharp play on Seager’s comebacker to catch Hernandez too far off third base for the first out. Hunter Strickland got Justin Turner to fly out. But Javier Lopez walked Gonzalez and, with the bases loaded, Cory Gearrin walked Thompson to force in the tying run.
“I’m not really a big fan of that, to be honest,” Bochy said of the pitching changes. “But I was going for the matchups, trying to keep it 3-2.”
Gearrin retired Joc Pederson to end the inning and came back to pitch a scoreless eighth. Bochy then turned in the ninth to embattled Santiago Casilla, who achieved a measure of redemption after giving up a tiebreaking home run in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 3-2 loss Friday night.
Casilla allowed a one-out single to Seager but promptly got Turner, who had hit that decisive home run Friday, to ground into a double play. It helped to vindicate Bochy, who before Saturday’s game said he has no plans to replace Casilla, who has blown four of 16 save chances this season, as his closer.
“Do I feel like I need to back off him? At this point, no,” Bochy said. “But sure, if it gets to a point where you need to tweak things, we’ll do it.”
The bullpen parade followed Jeff Samardzija’s shortest start as a Giant. The right-hander worked a high pitch count early, allowed nine baserunners and departed with two outs in the fifth after Gonzalez’s RBI double tied the score 2-2. It made three straight starts that Samardzija has not lasted past the fifth.
“Today, I was fighting myself a little bit and missing off the plate with my sinker, which is uncharacteristic, falling behind in some counts,” Samardzija said. “Definitely today felt a little off, but we battled through it.”
The Giants went ahead 2-0 in the first inning on RBI singles by Matt Duffy and Brandon Crawford and 3-2 in the sixth when Panik hit a leadoff single and later scored on a Duffy fielder’s
choice. But they had to mount one last rally in the 10th for the win.
“That’s the thing with this team,” Samardzija said, “is keep them close no matter what it takes and give them a chance to win late.”