SAN FRANCISCO – On a night when it all quickly went wrong, leave it to the Giants to somehow still make it right.
They followed a formula for disaster, blowing a five-run lead against the Dodgers as struggling right-hander Ryan Vogelsong endured an epic fifth-inning meltdown. Then they failed to score with the bases loaded in the ninth when Buster Posey hit into a double play that left the game tied.
Yet they found a way to recapture the hearts of the AT&T Park faithful in fresh and unpredictable fashion.
Backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz hadn’t hit a major league home run since 2008 with the Baltimore Orioles. He had logged just eight at-bats all season when he pinch-hit in the bottom of the 10th, the final player manager Bruce Bochy had available on his bench.
Quiroz proceeded to smack an 0-2 pitch from Dodgers closer Brandon League over the left field wall for a walk-off homer that gave the Giants a 10-9 victory over their hated rivals.
And so the late-inning magic continues.
Eight of the Giants’ 18 victories have come by one run, tying them with the Reds for most one-run victories in the majors.
They’ve won the first two games of this three-game series in walk-off fashion -- Posey won Friday’s opener with a ninth-inning homer.
Their fans were poised to curse them for allowing the Dodgers’ seven runs in the fifth inning alone. In the end, the Giants still found a way to send them home happy.
“To lose a lead like we did – we couldn’t stop that big inning -- It’s easy to get down there,” Bochy said. “But these guys fought.”
Before Quiroz fought, he waited.
The game was more than four hours old by the time he dug in against League. Quiroz, 31, has played for five different organizations spread over eight big league seasons. Never had he experienced a moment like Saturday’s as he rounded the bases.
He said one of the happiest people in the clubhouse was Posey.
“He said he was going to take me out to dinner because he was tired from catching so much,” Quiroz said with a smile. League got ahead of him with a first-pitch fastball, then threw him a nasty splitter to make it 0-2. But Quiroz was ready when League left another splitter too high in the zone.
“I know League pretty well,” Quiroz said. “I played with him in Toronto and Seattle, so I kinda knew the pitch he was trying to get me out with.”
And now the bad news for the Giants.
Vogelsong, who has won 27 games combined over the past two seasons, just can’t find his rhythm. He now has a 7.20 ERA over six starts and has posted just one quality start.
The right-hander had a heart-to-heart with Bochy on the last road trip, then worked on some mechanical issues in a bullpen session. He took a 6-1 lead to the mound in the fifth Saturday, but was pulled after giving up four runs on four hits and three walks.
The Dodgers batted around in the inning and led 8-6 by the time the Giants finally returned to the dugout. Vogelsong was charged with seven runs total over 4 2/3 innings total.
“I just couldn’t stop the bleeding there,” Vogelsong said. “ … I feel fine physically. It’s a battle. Every pitch is like I’m battling myself.”
The Giants have won five straight, but they need their starters to eat up more innings. Just twice in the past seven games has their starter completed as many as six innings. That will likely prompt Bochy to keep eight relievers when lefty Jose Mijares comes off the bereavement list, which will leave him with a four-man bench.
But on nights like Saturday’s, all is forgiven. The Giants know how to end a game in style.
Now they need to learn how to end one earlier.