Giants roll in wild extra-inning affair
Brandon Crawford didn’t have to be told the Giants had no available position players in the 11th inning when he fouled a ball off his right knee and collapsed to the ground.
Crawford knew he had to remain in the game, and so he stood up and hit the next pitch for a three-run homer to give San Francisco the lead in its 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
Gregor Blanco added another three-run homer in the 11th as the Giants recovered after blowing a two-run lead in the 10th.
Manager Bruce Bochy rushed to Crawford’s side after the shortstop fouled the ball off his knee. Bochy knew it was crucial that Crawford remain in the game.
"I was close to telling him that because we were out of players," Bochy said.
No need. Crawford already knew the situation.
"I was thinking about it a little bit when I was on the ground," Crawford said.
Crawford said the pain went away quickly — especially after the homer, only his second of the season and his first since April 12.
"It’s been a while since I hit a homer," Crawford said. "It felt pretty good."
The NL West-leading Giants have won five in a row, including the first two games of this series.
Anthony Varvaro (1-1) hit Eli Whiteside with a pitch to open the 11th before walking Brandon Belt. Chad Durbin replaced Varvaro and struck out Joaquin Arias.
The left-handed hitting Crawford pulled a cutter from Durbin into the seats in right.
"I tried to run it in there closer to him instead of leaving it on the plate and it didn’t quite get there," Durbin said. "It just wasn’t in enough."
The inning continued as third baseman Chipper Jones’ second throwing error of the game allowed Justin Christian to reach base. With two outs, Durbin issued an intentional walk to Melky Cabrera before giving up Blanco’s homer, also to right field, pushing the Giants’ lead to 9-3.
Jones homered off Brad Penny in the 11th. The homer, Jones’ eighth, gave him 1,596 career RBI, matching George Brett’s record for third basemen.
Asked if the landmark was bittersweet, Jones said "Bitter."
Cabrera homered in the sixth and had a run-scoring single in the Giants’ two-run 10th inning to give San Francisco a 3-1 lead.
The Giants were one out from the win when Brian McCann hit a tying two-run homer off Santiago Casilla (3-4) in the bottom of the 10th. It was Casilla’s sixth blown save in 29 opportunities.
Bochy said he will talk with pitching coach Dave Righetti and Casilla before deciding if he will change closers.
"He was too good tonight to do that," Bochy said of Casilla.
"We may have to change it up a little bit, but I don’t want him to lose his confidence."
Jones’ first error helped the Giants in the 10th.
Arias hit a one-out triple off Varvaro, who then intentionally walked Crawford. Christian hit a soft grounder to third base which Jones fielded while running toward the plate. Jones tried to make an underhand toss to McCann at the plate but threw the ball high, allowing Arias to score. Crawford raced to third on the error.
"Takes too much time to overhand it," Jones said. "It’s one of those do or die plays. It turned out to be costly."
Varvaro walked Ryan Theriot to load the bases before Cabrera’s bloop single drove in Crawford.
Buster Posey, who had three hits for the second consecutive night, led off the ninth with a single to right off Braves closer Craig Kimbrel before Pablo Sandoval hit into a double play.
Juan Francisco’s homer in the third gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead. Cabrera tied the game in the sixth with his ninth homer.
San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong and Atlanta’s Mike Minor both lasted six innings and posted almost identical pitching lines.
Vogelsong gave up four hits and one run with two walks and seven strikeouts. Minor gave up three hits and one run with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Minor, who struck out the side in the third, retired San Francisco’s first 12 hitters.
Posey hit a leadoff double to right field in the fifth for the Giants’ first hit.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 16 minutes by rain.
NOTES: The Giants placed C Hector Sanchez on the 15-day DL with a sprained left knee following an MRI on Wednesday. Whiteside was recalled from Triple-A Fresno and took over for Posey in the ninth. … McCann’s homer was the 150th of his career. … LHP Jonny Venters (sore left elbow) may start a short rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. The Braves want Venters to make at least two appearances with Gwinnett before he comes off the 15-day DL. … The series ends Thursday with Braves RHP Tim Hudson facing Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner.