San Francisco failed to hold two late-inning leads against Arizona on Friday night, so when the Giants got a third lead, manager Bruce Bochy turned to a Joe Maddon-esque strategy to secure the 7-6, 12-inning victory against the Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game series at Chase Field.
It could be the sort of pick-me-up the Giants need to get back in the NL West race.
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The Giants certainly had some fun with it.
As it was, San Francisco gained a game on the Dodgers and closed to within four games in the division race while maintaining the slimmest of margins in the wild-card standings with 24 games left when reliever Cody Gearrin got the final three outs, one before he played left field and two afterward.
Gearrin entered to strike out Chris Owings leading off the last of the 12th inning, and that's when the wheels began to turn.
Bochy previously had talked about moving a pitcher in the outfield when left-handed specialist Javier Lopez entered a game, and the occasion arose Friday when lefty-hitting Jake Lamb followed Owings. Gearrin moved to left field to replace Angel Pagan.
“What are you doing out here?” Gearrin was asked by teammates when he arrived.
After Lopez walked Lamb, Gearrin returned to the mound for the final two outs, after a stolen base by Lamb and an intentional walk.
“It felt weird running out to left field from the mound and running back in, but definitely something I'll never forget,” Gearrin said.
“It was really exciting.”
So the Giants will have two chances to win their 13th series in the last 14 at Chase Field when they send right-hander Johnny Cueto to face right-hander Archie Bradley on Saturday. Matt Moore and Zack Greinke are the scheduled starters Sunday. The Giants have won seven of eight games played in Arizona this year.
Santiago Casilla blew another save Friday when he allowed an 10th-inning homer to Jake Lamb, but the Giants recovered in a game that lasted five hours, 23 minutes.
“Guys are not quitting on each other, and that's the most important thing,” Lopez said. “The takeaway is that we battled back. Finally got those last three outs that we needed.”
Cubs manager Maddon played three pitchers in the outfield in a game this season, but Friday was a first for the Giants.
“Cory moves around pretty good, so I was comfortable taking a little risk there,” Bochy said. “He's a gamer. He was all for it.”
Lopez said it is the kind of situation pitchers think about.
“I think every pitcher wants that opportunity, but I would guarantee you that I would be nervous just like everybody else when you are having to go out there and make a play.”
Although the Giants won, the game accentuated the trouble they have had holding leads. Casilla has blown eight saves this season, the most in the National League, and the Giants have 27 blown saves after also failing to hold a 5-4 lead in ether seventh inning Friday.
Bochy said the Giants spent the off day Thursday mulling their bullpen options, and he indicated before the game that while Casilla would continue to be used in high-leverage situations, those could come in the eighth inning.
“We're going to put who we think is the right guy for that inning who is coming up,” Bochy said of bullpen roles.