Oct 14, 2014 7:34 PM
Giants beat Cardinals in 10th on Choate wild throw
The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Bruce Bochy sat back in his chair, took a deep breath and pondered another wacky October win for his San Francisco Giants.
The wild-card Giants finally got a bunt down, and then the baserunning became a breeze. Because come postseason, this bunch sure finds a way.
Pretty? Hardly. And they don't care about style points.
An errant throw by reliever Randy Choate on Gregor Blanco's bunt allowed Brandon Crawford to score the winning run in the 10th inning, lifting the Giants over the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 on Tuesday for a 2-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.
"Is this a rule we can't hit a home run?" Bochy joked of his club's non-conventional ways to win.
"We can score runs without hits, we've proven that," third base coach Tim Flannery said, hours after singing the national anthem with the Grateful Dead. "I call us the nitty-gritty dirtbags."
Crawford drew an eight-pitch walk from Choate to begin the inning, ending a stretch of 16 straight Giants retired since Tim Hudson's two-out single in the fourth. After failing on two sacrifice attempts, Juan Perez singled to bring up Blanco.
Blanco fouled off a bunt try, too, but then pushed one to the left side of the mound and the left-handed Choate's sidearmed throw sailed past lunging second baseman Kolten Wong, who was covering first.
"We had trouble getting the bunt down," Crawford said. "So I was happy he got it down. He put it in a great spot and made those guys make a play, and fortunately (we) saw the throw go wide."
Choate blamed himself. He has done pitcher fielding practice for decades.
"That's the stuff you dream about when you're a kid, besides hitting the homer," Choate said. "Being out on the mound in a game like that with a crowd like that on the road, those are the kinds of challenges I look forward to. I love being out there for that. That's just what makes that all the more disappointing, is that ball would get away from me like that."
The Giants had a 4-3 lead before Randal Grichuk hit a tying homer with one out in the seventh, chasing Hudson.
Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, unbeaten in five career postseason starts, tries to pitch San Francisco to a 3-1 lead when he takes the ball Wednesday night in Game 4 against St. Louis and Shelby Miller.
"We want to try and win them all here, and finish this thing up," Vogelsong said.
A wild pitch, a wide throw and an 18-inning marathon. That's how these playoff-tested Giants have done it so far.
"Everybody's saying: 'How are the Giants doing it? How are the Giants winning games?'" Blanco said. "We just really believe in each other."
This San Francisco walkoff win came 12 years to the day after Kenny Lofton's single in the ninth inning ended the 2002 NLCS against the Cardinals and sent the Giants to the World Series.
It also came on a day Hall of Famer Willie McCovey surprised players with his return to the ballpark after a long stint in the hospital nursing an infection.
"How great is that? Huge. He really wanted to be here," CEO Larry Baer said.
In the Division Series clincher only a week earlier against Washington, Joe Panik scored the go-ahead run in a 3-2 win on Aaron Barrett's bases-loaded wild pitch. That came after winning Game 2 by a 2-1 score in 18 innings.
The Giants also scored the tying run in the ninth inning of Sunday's 5-4 Game 2 loss on a wild pitch.
"We are finding ways to do it. We play interesting baseball, especially late in games," said Jeremy Affeldt, who pitched 1 2-3 innings in relief of Hudson.
Playing without injured catcher Yadier Molina, the Cardinals had their chances. They squandered Wong's double in the second before he delivered a wind-aided, two-run triple in the fourth.
A.J. Pierzynski went hitless in four at-bats starting as Molina nursed a strained left oblique. St. Louis returned to AT&T Park in the postseason for the first time since losing Games 6 and 7 of the 2012 NLCS, which it had led 3-1.
Javier Lopez got the first two outs of the 10th before Jon Jay's single, just the third hit by a left-handed batter against Lopez since he joined San Francisco in 2010. Two of those are by Jay this series.
Sergio Romo entered and retired Matt Holliday on a full-count grounder to third that Pablo Sandoval snared and fired to first.
"We don't do anything easy," Bochy said. "We might have got a little lucky there with Perez when he couldn't get a bunt down and he gets a base hit. But Blanco laid down a beauty."