Following one of the most unusual ways to win a ballgame Friday night, with a feat that hadn't been accomplished in nearly 50 years in team annals, one could be forgiven for thinking the SF Giants would win Saturday's game in a more run-of-the-mill fashion.
Unlike the previous night, Saturday afternoon didn't end on a walk-off. Instead, it was a bottom of the eighth bases-loaded balk that forced in the go-ahead run, and the Giants closed out the Milwaukee Brewers in the ninth for a 2-1 win.
For a brief period, it looked like a standard win - or another demoralizing late loss - might be the case. No one scored in the first five innings as the two teams combined for six runners in those frames, but in the bottom of the sixth Darin Ruf, who hit one of the home runs to help spur the ninth inning rally Friday, connected with an Eric Lauer offering for a two-out solo blast to put the Giants on the board.
On the hill for the home side, Alex Cobb was masterful. He tossed seven and 1/3 innings with no earned runs allowed, four hits, no walks and five strikeouts. In the eighth he ran into trouble, allowing a leadoff double to Hunter Renfroe that Mike Yastrzemski compounded with an error in right field, putting the tying run at third base. The next batter, Omar Narvaez, tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
That was it for Cobb, as John Brebbia was brought in to replace him. Brebbia issued a walk to the first batter he faced, Jonathan Davis, who then stole second with former NL MVP Christian Yelich at the plate. Brebbia and Yelich battled to a 2-2 count, and as Davis started toward third base Yelich struck out swinging. Catcher Joey Bart then snapped a throw to third that Evan Longoria caught while moving toward the bag, and his tag applied to the helmet of Davis was in time for a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play.
Balk comes with SF Giants one strike away from not scoring
With the game tied at one in the bottom of the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases with two out against a pair of relievers, the last against former Giant Jandel Gustave on a hit-by-pitch of Longoria With Yastrzemski at the plate facing a 1-2 count, Gustave committed a balk to allow Wilmer Flores to trot home for the San Francisco lead.
The ninth inning wasn't a breeze for reliever Dominic Leone, who allowed a leadoff single and committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt to put the potential tying run in scoring position with no outs. Leone was able to calm down and record the final three outs on nine total pitches, stranding the runner at third base in the end.
The victory puts the Giants in position to take the four-game series with the NL Central-leading Brewers heading into the All-Star break. Logan Webb is scheduled to pitch Sunday's series finale.