Tomlinson's hit sends Giants off winners
SAN FRANCISCO -- Kelby Tomlinson delivered a walk-off single in the ninth inning and Marlon Byrd smacked a grand slam in the third to power the San Francisco Giants to a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night at AT&T Park.
After hitting his first career home run Thursday, Tomlinson one-upped himself Friday, lining a 2-2 fastball to center field off the Cardinals' Kevin Siegrist with the bases loaded to pull the Giants to 4 1/2 games back of the Cubs for the second National League Wild Card spot and keep them 2 1/2 behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
"It's tough to beat the standing ovation after I came back out on the field; that was unbelievable yesterday," Tomlinson said. "But this was special, too, because it won the game in a playoff race."
The Pirates closed to within 3 1/2 games of the Cardinals in the NL Central race with St. Louis' loss.
Mike Leake, who entered Friday 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in four starts on the shores of McCovey Cove, surrendered four runs in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision. San Francisco won its third straight game.
Michael Wacha was denied his 16th win of the season despite tossing six strong innings. The only runs he allowed came on Byrd's homer, all of which were unearned thanks to two Cardinals errors earlier in the frame.
"I thought his stuff was as good as we've seen in a while," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Wacha. "His fastball had great life. I think he did a nice job of trying to establish the bottom of the zone and it made his changeup very, very good. Just the one breaking ball that was up really hurt. But once again, he probably shouldn't have been in that spot."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Byrd breaks out: The Giants right fielder entered Friday 0-for-16 with seven strikeouts in 18 career plate appearances vs. Wacha, though his struggles against the Cardinals right-hander were quickly forgotten when he crushed a hanging breaking ball deep into the night sky. The grand slam was the eighth of Byrd's career and his first since July 9, 2013. It also was the Giants' eighth grand slam of the season, a franchise record.
"I've had a tough time against Wacha," Byrd said. "I got one pitch to do something with and put a good swing on it." More >
Defensive difficulties: On the heels of a strong defensive series in Arizona, the Cardinals set up San Francisco's four-run third with a pair of costly errors. Nori Aoki reached on Matt Carpenter's fielding error to open the inning. Then, with a chance to turn an inning-ending double play, shortstop Jhonny Peralta allowed a feed from Kolten Wong to pop out of his glove. All four runs to score off Wacha that inning were unearned as a result. Jonathan Broxton committed the team's third error in the eighth, but worked out of his own mess to preserve a tie game.
"Errors happen in games, but as a pitcher, I try to take it upon myself to get out of those innings and pick up my team," Wacha said. "I just wasn't able to do that tonight." More >
Patience at the plate: San Francisco drew six walks off St. Louis pitching, four which came in the last two innings. Broxton walked Tomlinson and Aoki in the eighth and Siegrist issued free passes to Buster Posey and Gregor Blanco in the ninth. The Giants' plate discipline late in the game set the table for Tomlinson's game-winning hit.
Happy homecoming: Bay Area native Stephen Piscotty made his AT&T Park debut and delighted the many friends and family in attendance with a two-hit game and diving catch in right field. Piscotty, a graduate of Stanford University, shaved the Giants' lead to one with his two-out, two-run double in the fourth. He then closed Wacha's six-inning start by diving onto the bullpen mound to catch a Matt Duffy popup.
"That was really cool," Piscotty said of playing near his hometown. "It's awesome the support I have. It was a fun night, but it would have been a whole heck of a lot sweeter with a win." More >
"My initial [impression] is, 'Where did he come from?' But it's awesome to see. Those are things you hope for in baseball, to be honest. To see guys come up and produce immediately, it's cool. It's something a lot of guys wish they could do and he should be very happy with what he's doing for us." -- Leake on Tomlinson.
"We've been using him a little bit more lately and that can lead to some more inconsistencies at a time when they're feeling the heavy workload. But that's a situation he knew we were going to need him in." -- Matheny on Siegrist, who suffered his first loss of the season.
Cardinals: The Cardinals' series in San Francisco will continue with a 3:05 pm CT game at AT&T Park on Saturday. Starting for St. Louis will be Lance Lynn, who is 0-4 with a 6.33 ERA in four career regular-season games against the Giants.
Giants: San Francisco looks to Ryan Vogelsong to keep the ball rolling Saturday. The veteran right-hander is 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA in his last two regular-season outings against the Cardinals while holding hitters to a .178 batting average.
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