SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Hudson didn’t have it. Buster Posey grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. Given another chance with sacks full, he struck out.
This just wasn’t the Giants’ night. Until it was.
The comeback artists dipped their brushes yet again, scoring twice in the ninth inning to seize a 5-4 victory from the New York Mets Saturday night at AT&T Park.
Angel Pagan, who reached base in all five plate appearances, hit a two-run single in the sixth inning and started the Giants’ rally in the ninth when a third strike got away from Mets catcher Anthony Recker. Hunter Pence doubled home the tying run and Michael Morse started the seagulls’ postgame feast when he hit the first pitch to the right field wall for a walk-off single off Mets closer Jenrry Mejia.
The Giants won their fourth consecutive and set up a chance to sweep the Mets. They won for the third time in 20 games when trailing after eight innings. And they own 17 come-from-behind victories this season.
Starting pitching report
Tim Hudson became the first Giants pitcher in the San Francisco era to post a sub-2 ERA through his first 12 starts with the club.
It was a feather in an ill-fitting cap, though.
Hudson simply didn’t have it while the Mets tallied 12 baserunners in his five innings. It took three strikeouts of Bartolo Colon, in all their glory, for Hudson to avoid a complete gully washing while allowing three runs in five innings – ending the night with a 1.97 ERA.
Hudson entered Saturday with the lowest ERA in the majors (1.75) among qualified starters. He had a 15-inning scoreless streak. And the Giants had won all five of his starts at AT&T Park.
What he didn’t have was the command that he displayed over his first 11 outings, when he issued just eight walks in 77.1 innings.
Hudson allowed nine hits, walked three and struggled from the outset. He got Chris Young to pop up on a 3-1 pitch to strand two runners in scoring position in the first inning. But his scoreless streak ended in the second. Lucas Duda doubled, shortstop Brandon Crawford made a fielding error and Recker singled in a run. It had all the makings of a huge inning but Hudson got Colon to strike out on a bunt attempt, then Daniel Murphy lined out to strand two.
Hudson avoided another total calamity in the third, when the Mets squeezed two runs out of four hits and a walk. Ruben Tejada helped in that regard, running himself into an out at third base on Recker’s second RBI hit. Colon, batting with two out thanks to Tejada’s baserunning gaffe, struck out again.
The Mets threatened once more in the fifth after a leadoff single and a walk. But Tejada hit into a forceout, Recker struck out and Colon made it six left on base when he fanned to end the inning.
And right about then, Hudson had to be thanking his stars he didn’t sign with an AL club. Colon represented three of Hudson’s five strikeouts, and each of them came with two runners on base. Proponents of a universal DH rule can use this game as a reference point.
George Kontos had plenty of misfortune in the sixth inning, but a leadoff walk was his own doing. The Giants failed to pick off Matt den Dekker despite pitching out while he was on the move, as he got his hand back to first base ahead of Michael Morse’s tag. Then Morse exhibited what scouts call “fall-down range” on Murphy’s single that snuck into right field. A wild pitch that bounced between Posey’s legs scored den Dekker. It took two strikeouts and a fly out to keep Murphy stuck at third base.
Juan Gutierrez worked the seventh inning, and quietly, he has turned into quite a find. He’s unscored upon in 11.2 innings spanning 13 appearances at AT&T Park this season.
Javier Lopez worked a scoreless eighth and Jeremy Affeldt (2-1) pitched around a hit batter in the ninth to receive credit for the victory.
At the plate
The Giants have been comeback artists all season, but they left blank spaces on the canvas most of the night.
They left six on base in the first four innings against Colon, and only scored one run in the fifth inning despite loading the bases with no outs. Posey tapped into a 4-6-3 double play while trying to protect with two strikes – not the worst idea, with Joe West behind the plate – to bring in the only run. Pablo Sandoval flied out to strand Angel Pagan at third base.
They started a two-out rally in the sixth when Brandon Crawford singled and Brandon Hicks reached on a throwing error by Mets third baseman David Wright. Hector Sanchez drew a pinch walk to load the bases and Pagan dumped a two-run single into left field.
Pence chopped an infield single to load the bases again for Posey, who struck out against hard-throwing right-hander Jheurys Familia.
Familia went on to toss 2 1/3 scoreless innings, temporarily saving a game that easily could’ve gotten away from the Mets. But eventually, the Amazin’s paid for going just 3 for 18 with runners in scoring position.
The critical mistake came in the ninth when Pagan struck out but reached for the fifth time in the game when the third strike got away from Recker and his throw went wide to first base. The Mets appealed but the safe call was confirmed via replay.
Pence followed with a line double down the left field line that scored Pagan with the tying run. Then Pence tagged up on Posey’s deep fly out to left. After an intentional walk to Pablo Sandoval, Morse crushed closer Jenrry Mejia’s first pitch to the wall in right field for a walk-off winner.
Crawford’s error was his eighth of the season.
The Giants announced 41,296 paid, not including the hundreds of seagulls that began to descend in the sixth inning. Sometimes those plastic beer lids are worth their weight in gold.
The Giants finish up their three-game series with the Mets at AT&T Park on Sunday. Tim Lincecum (4-4, 5.01 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Zack Wheeler (2-5, 3.89 ERA), the Giants’ one-time top prospect. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.