SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey has flung plenty of bats away on off-balance swings, but he can’t remember one ever getting caught up in the netting. It happened to him in the first inning Saturday, and Posey had to use a backup bat until his gamer was pulled down by a stadium employee who stood on top of a ladder between innings.
Posey used the hanging bat in his next three at-bats, but a normally unemotional player tossed it toward the dugout in anger after an eighth-inning liner found shortstop Corey Seager’s glove.
“That one had to take a timeout,” Posey said later, smiling.
The understudy bat came through. Posey lined a single up the middle off tough Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the 10th, giving the Giants a 5-4 come-from-behind win on a day when they blew two leads and at some point looked dead in the water.
“It’s a big one,” Posey said. “It’s one of those games we felt we were kind of on the ropes from the get go. From the start, it felt like we were just kind of defensively trying to get back to the dugout.”
The issues started with Jeff Samardzija, who was such a dependable starter early on but has thrown 14 2/3 innings in his last three starts. Samardzija said this was the first time he really felt noticeably off.
“Obviously I was fighting myself a little,” he said. “I was missing off the plate with my sinker, which is uncharacteristic. I definitely felt a little off, but we battled through. That’s the thing with this team, just keep it close and give them a chance to win it late.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Posey, Giants stun Dodgers on walk-off in 10th]
The Giants had to play every card just to keep it close. Bruce Bochy used five relievers in the seventh inning, setting up a precarious situation. Bochy knew he had two long relievers — Albert Suarez and Chris Stratton — available and Cory Gearrin could go multiple innings, so he played left-right matchups to try and hold a one-run lead. When Gearrin walked in the tying run, Bochy was stuck looking at a situation where struggling closer Santiago Casilla was his only late-innings reliever left.
“I’m not a big fan of that, to be honest, but I was going for the matchups,” Bochy said.
All those moves left Bochy with a decision in the 10th: Suarez, who was just coming off a two-start stint in the rotation, or Stratton, who had never pitched at AT&T Park. He chose Stratton, and Adrian Gonzalez immediately smoked a changeup to the seats in left to give the Dodgers a lead as Jansen warmed up.
Stratton knew what had happened. The veteran first baseman was sitting off-speed early in the at-bat and had taken advantage of a rookie trying to come in and throw strikes. Stratton didn’t melt though, holding the Dodgers to one run and keeping the game from spinning.
“You’ve just got to give your team a chance there at the end,” he said. “Getting a loss is always the worst, especially on this stage against a rival.”
Stratton’s fortitude earned him his first career win and a cold beer shower in the clubhouse bathroom. That was a moment he couldn’t have predicted, though. The Giants have never fared well against Jansen. Nobody has, really. But the hulking right-hander’s stuff is down a tick, and the Giants felt like they were seeing him a bit better since Jansen had thrown a lot of pitches Friday while getting into trouble and then nailing down a save.
Denard Span hit a one-out double and Joe Panik drove him in with a single. Brandon Belt followed with a flare to right that Trayce Thompson misjudged. Panik scored easily when Posey grounded a ball up the middle. AT&T Park exploded. Steve Kerr high-fived fans in the owner's box. On a day when Bochy spent much of his time pre-game talking about a bullpen that has blown leads, the Giants put a blown save on Jansen’s record.
“We’ve talked about how at some point we were going to have to pick our pitching up,” Panik said. “It was definitely a great win to kind of see a little life out of this offense. Once we let the lead slip away we didn’t back down. We were ready for it.
“To do it against their big guy, their closer, it was that much better.”