There are games that live in your memory forever. Huge ones like the 4+1 game and the Squeeze. And then less meaningful but still utterly crazy ones like 1996′s 16-15 loss at Colorado.
Tonight brought one of the crazies.
Wild from Matt Magill’s first batter, heave-inducing once the Dodgers fell behind 5-0 in the second inning, head-rushing once the Dodgers came back with seven runs in the top of the fifth and mind-blasting for nearly every moment there after, the tear-your-hair-out affair that lasted more than four hours before ending with a 10-9, 10-inning Giants victory.
Guillermo Quiroz, the last position player available to San Francisco, hit a one-out homer in the bottom of the 10th, giving the Giants a second walkoff victory in two nights.
Magill was a disaster in his second career start, allowing six hits, four walks and five runs while retiring four batters on 63 pitches. And yet somehow, he managed to allow fewer runs than Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong.
Entering the game with a 6.23 ERA, Vogelsong cruised through his first four innings, hurt only a solo home run by A.J. Ellis. Vogelsong began the fifth inning with a 6-1 lead against a team whose season-high in runs was seven.
But Vogelsong walked pinch-hitter Nick Punto to start the fifth, and things spun out of control for him thereafter. Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled, Matt Kemp singled in two, Skip Schumaker followed an Ellis walk with an RBI single, and then Juan Uribe singled home Ellis to bring the Dodgers to within 6-5.
Vogelsong exited with Uribe on first and Schumaker on second, to be replaced by Jean Machi. Dee Gordon, 0 for 2 in his first major-league game of the season, was up. Gordon 3-ironed a ball to the gap that rightfielder Hunter Pence had trouble seeing in the lights, for a go-ahead triple. Punto, still technically listed as a pinch-hitter, followed with a double that scored Gordon for a two-run lead.
The Dodgers being the Dodgers, they still managed to leave two runners on in the inning, when Carl Crawford singled but Hairston struck out. And with half the game remaining, you had to know it would matter.
Javy Guerra came in to relieve, and was almost wholly ineffective. He gave up a solo homer to Andres Torres in the bottom of the fifth, then loaded the bases with none out in the sixth on a walk, a single and a hit batter (the latter, Joaquin Arias, had been trying to sacrifice). Paco Rodriguez entered the game – in a double-switch that left the Dodgers with Luis Cruz, of all people, playing first base for the first time in his career – and was brilliant. He struck out the first two batters on seven total pitches, only to have a low 1-0 strike to Torres elude Ellis for a wild pitch that tied the game at 8. Rodriguez still finished off the inning, stranding Giants on second and third.
The Dodgers took the lead back in the seventh when Gordon drew a four-pitch leadoff walk from Javier Lopez, went to second on a sacrifice, stole third and scored on a nifty slide home thanks to Crawford’s fielder’s choice grounder. But as quickly as that lead came, it vanished in the bottom of the seventh when Ronald Belisario allowed a double, single and sacrifice fly to the first three batters he faced.
At that point, the Giants had scored in six of the seven innings played. But the teams went dry in an eighth inning that included the Dodgers having Ellis (2 for 4 with a walk) bunt into a double play. Belisario survived in his second inning of work to keep things tied.
Gordon reached base for the third time with a one-out, ninth-inning single and stole second, but he was stranded, putting Los Angeles in position of trying to maintain a tie in the bottom of the ninth for the second evening in a row. Brandon League, not one to induce calm, walked leadoff batter Torres on five pitches. Francisco Peguero forced Torres at second.
With Marco Scutaro up, Peguero broke for second. He beat Ellis’ throw but overslid the bag – but Schumaker didn’t keep his glove on Peguero long enough to record what otherwise would have been a gift out. League then went 3-2 to Scutaro before walking him, bringing up Pablo Sandoval with one out and Buster Posey on deck.
Sandoval hit, of all things, a 50-foot dribbler that Punto charged at from third base but couldn’t barehand, leaving the bases loaded for Posey, Friday’s walkoff home run hero.
Unbelievably – and never have I used an adverb with greater emphasis – the Dodgers lived to play another inning. Unbelievably, Posey swung at the first pitch from the erratic League. And unbelievably, Posey hit it a foot to the right of second base, directly at Schumaker, who stepped on second and threw to first to give the Dodgers their escape and send the game into the 10th inning, about 10 minutes shy of four hours.
In the bottom of the 10th, League struck out Pence and then threw two strikes before giving up the game-winning blast to Quiroz. And just like that, it was over.