PHOENIX -- After welcoming Tommy La Stella and Brandon Belt back into the fold, the Giants unveiled one of their deepest lineups of the season on Thursday afternoon at Chase Field. It took a while, but the offense finally got a chance to show what it’s capable of when it’s operating at near full strength.
Shut down through the first eight innings by D-backs right-hander Merrill Kelly, the Giants came alive in the top of the ninth to erase a four-run deficit and rally for a dramatic 5-4 win in 10 innings.
It was the first time the Giants won when trailing by four or more runs in the ninth inning or later since April 18, 1993, when they rallied to beat the Braves, 13-12, in 11 innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“We had no business winning that game,” Bryant said. “Their starter really shut us down. I’ve been a part of a few teams that really do well later in the game with the backs against the wall, and this team definitely has it. It’s really fun to be a part of. It’s fun to contribute to such a good win.”
The Giants mustered only three hits against Kelly, and Bryant said he figured the D-backs would send the veteran righty back out for the ninth to try to complete his shutout bid. Bryant continued to game-plan for Kelly as he stood in center field, but when he stepped up to the plate to lead off the ninth, he found himself facing Arizona reliever Taylor Clarke instead.
The Giants trailed, 4-0, following a rough start from left-hander Alex Wood, but they found new life against Clarke, who was making his first appearance since returning from the injured list. Bryant doubled and Alex Dickerson singled to put runners on the corners with no outs, and Brandon Crawford followed with an RBI double off the right-center-field wall to cut the deficit to 4-1.
“For most of the game, we didn’t see that strength, that relentlessness,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “But then all it takes is really one inning.”
Clarke departed without recording an out and was replaced by Tyler Clippard, who then hit Donovan Solano to load the bases. Belt, who was activated off the injured list on Thursday, brought the Giants within two with an RBI single to right, but Clippard struck out Buster Posey and retired Wilmer Flores on a flyout to bring up Wade, who had gone hitless in his first four at-bats of the game.
Wade fell behind, 0-2, but he battled back to work a full count and then ended the eight-pitch at-bat by lining a changeup to right field for a two-run, game-tying single.
“The quality of the at-bat was excellent,” Kapler said. “It takes a fighter to still have the stamina at the end of a game, and at the end of some struggle, to really hang in there and stay with your approach. That’s what LaMonte did.”
Tyler Rogers cruised through a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to force extra innings, giving the Giants a chance to cap their comeback in the 10th. Bryant led off the inning by smoking a double down the left-field line to knock in La Stella, his former Cubs teammate, and put the Giants ahead, 5-4.
Jake McGee struck out Christian Walker, coaxed a groundout from Pavin Smith and induced a flyout from Drew Ellis to end the game and pick up his 24th save of the year.
After securing their 12th victory in 14 games against the D-backs this year, the Giants improved to a Major League-best 69-40, increasing their lead for first place in the National League West to four games over the idle Dodgers. They’ll now head to Milwaukee, where they’ll kick off a three-game series against the first-place Brewers on Friday night.
When they return home to San Francisco next week, the Giants could have another key piece of their lineup back, as third baseman Evan Longoria began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday and is inching closer to a return after missing two months with a dislocated sternoclavicular joint in his left shoulder.
“I think you can already kind of see the impact that La Stella and Belt have made already,” Wade said. “Longo is just another great piece to add. This offense is doing well right now, but when we get Longo back, it’ll be even better. It’s definitely great to see those guys back and healthy and contributing already. It’s great to see those guys back and have them in the clubhouse, too.”