SAN FRANCISCO – It happened at 10:10 p.m. Monday, with Marco Scutaro at the plate in the 10th inning at AT&T Park and the seagull-to-bleacher fan ratio creeping closer to 1:1.
That’s when the defending World Series champions were eliminated from the NL West.
The Dodgers won in Chavez Ravine behind Juan Uribe’s three home runs (no, do not adjust your Internet), making official what those at Third and King had accepted as fact many weeks ago.
But the Giants still have a sellout streak, officially at least, and a show to put on. They ran on the field in celebration and the remnants of the crowd rocked when Brandon Belt lofted a walk-off single that sent the Giants to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Angel Pagan singled and Scutaro, even as the Giants were being eliminated, snuck a hit through the right side to put runners at the corners. Belt already contributed the tying double in the eighth inning that took Tim Lincecum off the hook for a loss. He knocked in the winner, too, hitting a fly ball off Adam Ottavino that sailed over the crowding infield and shallow outfielders.
It was the Giants’ second consecutive walk-off win – and just the third time since the All-Star break that they won two in a row at home.
The Giants might be 19 ½ games behind the Dodgers with 18 to play, but they’re only a half-game behind the Rockies for fourth place – and they’d like to avoid becoming the second World Series winners to follow up by finishing in the cellar.
Starting pitching report
There’s a better than decent chance that Tim Lincecum re-signs with the Giants after this season. But nobody can say for sure.
So you couldn’t blame the faithful if they felt like standing a little longer, applauding a little louder and showing a little more outward appreciation Monday night, when Lincecum made what could be his second to last home start at AT&T Park.
Maybe that’s why Giants manager Bruce Bochy let Lincecum go a little deeper in the game, too.
A day after Bochy pulled Madison Bumgarner after six innings and 89 pitches, he let Lincecum take the mound with 95 pitches to start the eighth. The two-time Cy Young Award winner set the Rockies down in order to finish the eighth – something he’s done only five times in 62 starts over the last two seasons.
The Giants couldn’t make a winner of him, although Belt at least kept him from taking the loss with a tying, two-out double in the eighth.
Lincecum’s night did not start out well.
He had trouble with fastball command in the first inning, threw a wild pitch and needed a diving play from third baseman Pablo Sandoval on Michael Cuddyer to prevent a run.
Then Lincecum had a brain cramp in the second inning, when Nolan Arenado doubled and scored all the way from second base on Yorvit Torrealba’s nubber in front of the plate. Catcher Buster Posey fielded the ball, Lincecum forgot to cover the plate and Arenado had enough awareness to take advantage.
The Rockies scored the tiebreaking run in the third inning when D.J. LeMahieu doubled and scored on Troy Tulowitzki’s single.
After that, Lincecum worked efficiently while getting contact outs. The defense continued to back him, as Hunter Pence made a running catch of LeMahieu’s fly ball in the right field corner. Sandoval made another quick first-step move to take a single away from Cuddyer to end the eighth, along with Lincecum’s night.
Lincecum only struck out three while throwing 107 pitches in eight innings. It was the first time in his career he completed at least eight innings and struck out three batters or fewer.
Sergio Romo isn’t getting many save chances these days, but a closer is handy to have in a tie game at home. He got three quick outs in the ninth.
Javier Lopez and Santiago Casilla teamed up to throw a scoreless 10th inning as Bochy continues to use his frontline relievers in tight games.
At the plate
Buster Posey’s nine good fingers did what 10 healthy ones were unable to do in all of August. He roped a pitch from Jhoulys Chacin and hit a wall scraper over the left field fence for just his second home run since the All-Star break and his first since July 20. Posey had gone 134 at-bats without going deep.
His shot led off the second inning, and the Giants were in business after Pablo Sandoval’s fly ball landed between a confused Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon in left-center field for a double. Dickerson was calling for the ball but held up at the last moment, even though it landed behind him.
But Chacin responded by retiring 12 of the next 13 batters, the only exception being a two-out intentional walk to No. 8 hitter Gregor Blanco.
Like the Giants, the Rockies might be easing up on their starters down the stretch. They pulled Chacin after seven innings and just 100 pitches, and the Giants were able to tie the game in the eighth against right-hander Matt Belisle.
Angel Pagan started the rally with a slow roller that Arenado, the third baseman, picked up with his bare hand. Pagan had the throw beaten and as a bonus, it went wide for a single plus an error. After Marco Scutaro grounded out, Brandon Belt doubled on a first-pitch curveball to tie the game and take Lincecum off the hook for a loss. Posey struck out to strand Belt.
The Giants had the winning run in scoring position in the ninth after Pablo Sandoval led off with a single. Bochy, who never shies away from a formula that works, inserted pinch runner Ehire Adrianza, who had scored the walk-off run in his major league debut a day earlier.
Adrianza did not get to slide across the plate in another moment of exhilaration, though. Pence hit a loud out to left field and Gregor Blanco hit an even louder one that Blackmon ran down in left-center to send the game to extra innings.
Instead, Pagan got the honor. He hit leadoff singles in the sixth, eighth and 10th to put him in position to score both the tying and winning runs.
In addition to Lincecum’s failure to cover the plate, the Giants made one other defensive lapse: They got lost in the Bermuda Triangle again.
Cuddyer, who twice got robbed by Sandoval, lucked into a hit in the sixth when his pop-up landed in shallow right field. Pence didn’t take charge of the play, which has been a problem all season.
At least shortstop Brandon Crawford made a nice stop of Torrealba’s grounder and stepped on second base to keep the Rockies off the board in the sixth.
Posey showed that throwing wasn’t a major issue with a fractured ring finger on his right hand. He fielded three balls in front of the plate and made three strong throws. The most impressive one came in the 10th when he scooped up Jonathan Herrera’s bunt and forced the runner at second base. The Giants completed a rare 2-6-4 double play with Scutaro covering first, although replays showed that umpire Alan Porter badly blew the call.
The Giants announced 41,078 paid, and by the club’s reckoning, the sellout streak remains intact. Many came dressed as Elvis. Many others came dressed as green seats.
The Giants and Rockies continue their three-game series at AT&T Park on Tuesday. Ryan Vogelsong (3-5, 5.62 ERA) takes the mound against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (16-6, 3.31), who will be one of the most sought-after pitchers on the free-agent market this winter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT.