SAN FRANCISCO -- For the second consecutive game in this World Series, the Giants found themselves trailing the Royals in the sixth inning and needing to stage a comeback against the vaunted late-game bullpen of Kansas City. This time, the Giants brought the tying run with 90 feet -- but the result, in the end, was the same.
The Giants fell behind early in Game 3 and saw their sixth-inning rally end with Gregor Blanco standing on third base representing the tying run. The Royals held on for a 3-2 win Friday to take a two-games-to-one lead in the series and ensure that if the Giants are going to win their third title in five years, they’ll have to clinch it on Kansas City soil.
Royals closer Greg Holland faced the heart of the Giants’ order in the ninth and retired Buster Posey on a flyout to left field and Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence on comebackers. It was the first World Series loss at home for the Giants since Game 3 against the then-Anaheim Angels in 2002. It was also the Giants’ second loss in a row after they’d lost just twice in their previous 18 postseason games overall.
After 16 regular seasons and more than 3,000 career innings, Tim Hudson threw his first pitch in a World Series game at 5:10 p.m. Friday -- and saw Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar hammer it into the left-field corner for a leadoff double, undoubtedly not the start Hudson envisioned to what he previously called "the biggest game of my life."
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The next batter, Alex Gordon, also swung at the first pitch and moved Escobar to third on a groundout, and right fielder Lorenzo Cain hit a chopper to shortstop Brandon Crawford that scored Escobar, giving the Royals the early lead.
The Giants hit several balls hard off Jeremy Guthrie early on but with little to show for it. With the series moving to AT&T Park and its expansive outfield -- particularly in right-center -- Royals manager Ned Yost shuffled his lineup for Game 3, moving Lorenzo Cain to right field for Nori Aoki and putting speedy Jarrod Dyson in center.
Both the first and second innings ended with Cain charging a sinking liner and making a sliding catch to take away extra bases. The second carried a measure of revenge. It was hit by Travis Ishikawa, who himself had made a sliding catch in the top of the second on Salvador Perez’s line drive with two on and nobody out. The play likely saved two runs, and Hudson followed by getting Dyson to ground into an inning-ending double play.
It began a stretch of 12 consecutive batters retired by Hudson before Escobar grounded a single up the middle with one out in the sixth. Gordon then hit a 1-0 pitch from Hudson to the center-field wall for a double and his first hit of the Series, scoring Escobar from first. It validated another move by Yost, who had bumped Gordon up from the lower half of the order to the No. 2 spot in an effort to get the scuffling Gordon more fastballs.
Hudson retired Cain on a groundout for his final batter before being replaced by Javier Lopez, who lost an 11-pitch battle with Hosmer when the Royals’ first baseman lined a single up the middle to score Gordon. That closed the book on Hudson, who allowed just five baserunners in 5 2/3 innings but saw three of them score.
Guthrie, meanwhile, faced only one batter over the minimum through five innings while setting down 10 Giants in a row after Brandon Belt’s two-out single in the second. But Brandon Crawford snapped that streak with a leadoff single in the sixth and Bruce Bochy chose to play his best bench card, Michael Morse, to hit for Lopez.
Morse validated the move, yanking a double down the left-field line past the dive of third baseman Mike Moustakas. Crawford scored while Gordon dug the ball from the left-field corner, and with the potential tying run at the plate, Yost deployed the first piece of his vaunted late-game bullpen trio, replacing Guthrie with hard-throwing Kelvin Herrera.
Herrera walked Gregor Blanco on four pitches and Joe Panik hit a high comebacker that moved both runners up to second and third with one out. Morse scored and Blanco took third when Buster Posey grounded out to Omar Infante at second. But with the tying run 90 feet away, Herrera got Pablo Sandoval to ground out to Hosmer, ending the inning.
Yost let Herrera hit in the top of the seventh, in order for Herrera to face Hunter Pence leading off the bottom of the inning. Herrera walked Pence but struck out Belt for his final hitter. Left-hander Brandon Finnegan, who earlier this year was pitching in the College World Series, retired pinch-hitter Juan Perez and struck out Crawford to strand Pence at first base.