UPDATE (Wednesday, 6:50 p.m.) -- Santiago Casilla, who left the game after recording the first two outs of the eighth inning, will have an MRI on his right knee and will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have a blueprint for victory they want to follow, and you can bet it doesn’t involve Buster Posey coming off the bench in extra innings.
That’s what happened Wednesday, however, as the Giants proved masters of the unconventional once again.
Posey, originally slated for a day off, subbed in and delivered a leadoff single in the bottom of the 10th. After being bunted to second, he made a mad dash for third on a wild pitch and scored on Andres Torres’ single to right-center that took down the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 at AT&T Park.
[RECAP: Giants 4, A's 3 (10)]
That provided a happy ending after closer Sergio Romo coughed up a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning.
It made for entertaining theatre, and it pulled the Giants into a first-place tie in the National League West, pending the Colorado Rockies’ result Wednesday night against the Yankees.
But it’s not the formula the Giants will be trying to repeat as this season unfolds. If you wanted some genuine signs of promise from Wednesday’s nail-biter, they were found elsewhere:
--With the starting rotation licking its wounds of late, Barry Zito delivered a terrific seven-inning performance to help stabilize the pitching staff.
He gave up just one run on four hits, struck out three and walked none. Unlike his last start, when he walked four against the Dodgers, Zito pitched aggressively, and the Phillies generated little solid contact against him.
Wednesday’s effort was just the third time in the past 11 games that a Giants pitcher turned in a quality start, defined as throwing at least six innings and allowing three earned runs or less.
“We’ve taxed the bullpen a little bit as starters,” Zito said. “I’ve done it my last two starts as well. It’s something where we want to go out there and give (relievers) the ball in the eighth inning or the seventh inning. It was good to give them a bit of a rest here.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy can only hope such an outing proves contagious.
San Francisco begins a four-game series Thursday night against the N.L. East-leading Atlanta Braves. Pitching the first two games of that series will be Ryan Vogelsong (1-2, 7.20) and Matt Cain (1-2, 5.57), neither of whom has pitched up to expectations so far this year.
--No. 2 hitter Marco Scutaro is starting to flash the form he showed down the stretch and in the postseason in 2012.
Scutaro went 3-for-5 with an RBI on Wednesday, and he’s riding an eight-game hitting streak, during which he’s hitting .484 (15-for-31).
There’s always a magnifying glass on Pablo Sandoval and Posey as the Giants’ 3-4 hitters, but the man batting in front of them is another key in making the offensive engine run smoothly.
“He’s feeling better,” Bochy said of Scutaro. “The back was bothering him there for a little bit, but it looks like it’s cleared up. I like where he’s at now. It’s gonna take all of us. We know we’re not a team that usually puts up a lot of runs, but we are a team that kind of keeps the line moving. That’s where we need to get right now.”
--Hunter Pence is another player swinging a hot bat. Batting cleanup Wednesday in place of Posey, he swatted his team-leading seventh homer to get the Giants on the board in the second. Pence is 12-for-32 (.375) with three home runs and seven RBI in his last eight games.
--Wednesday’s victory was the Giants’ third walkoff win in six games on this homestand.
On Saturday against Los Angeles, backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz delivered a game-ending homer after the Giants squandered a five-run lead. On Wednesday, Torres was passed over by Bochy for a start even with center fielder Angel Pagan injured. Yet Torres wound up being the hero in the end.
It’s not how the Giants draw it up, but Bochy sounds like a man who’s buckling in for a season-long roller coaster.
“That’s our way,” the manager said. “Go back to last year’s postseason, it’s like these guys are entertainers. Believe me, I’d rather have it the other way. It just seems like when we score, it still turns out to be a close game.”