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Panda foils Cubs' packed infield for walk-off

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- With a bat in his hand, Pablo Sandoval almost always is the right man in the right spot.

Very little fazes Sandoval when he's hitting, which he proved again Monday night by slicing a tiebreaking single to left field in the 11th inning to give the Giants a 2-1 victory over the Cubs.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- With a bat in his hand, Pablo Sandoval almost always is the right man in the right spot.

Very little fazes Sandoval when he's hitting, which he proved again Monday night by slicing a tiebreaking single to left field in the 11th inning to give the Giants a 2-1 victory over the Cubs.

View Full Game Coverage

With Sandoval facing Pedro Strop with the bases loaded and one out, the Cubs employed a five-man infield, defying Sandoval to drive a pitch to the outfield. As it turned out, the Cubs could have stationed their entire 40-man roster in the field and it wouldn't have mattered. With three infielders planted between second and third base, Sandoval lined Strop's 0-2 pitch to left field to score Andrew McCutchen, whose one-out single off Steve Cishek (2-1) launched the winning rally.

After Brandon Belt singled, the Cubs intentionally walked Brandon Crawford to set up a potential force play at any base.

"He's our best hitter right now," said Sandoval, who wasn't at all offended by Chicago bypassing Crawford. "I just dropped everything from my mind. I got the opportunity and I took advantage of it."

Video: CHC@SF: Sandoval discusses walk-off win over Cubs

"You can't let that affect your at-bat," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the extra infielder. "And I don't think it affected Pablo at all."

The Giants were definitely affected by Alen Hanson's mad dash home from first base, which tied the score in the fifth inning. It interrupted the dominance of Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who permitted five hits in 8 1/3 innings, and motivated the Giants.

"I was pumped, for sure," Giants starter Andrew Suarez said.

With one out in the fifth, Hendricks tried to pick off the speedy Hanson. The toss eluded first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was charged with an error. Second baseman Javier Baez appeared unaware that Hanson was racing for home as if this were the postseason. Hanson beat the throw with a headfirst dive.

Video: CHC@SF: Hanson scores from first on pickoff attempt

"That's what speed does," Bochy said. "You don't see that very often at first base."

Suarez wasn't involved in the decision but recorded his fourth quality start in his last five outings. The left-hander yielded one run and three hits in six innings while striking out five. Suarez lapsed only in the third inning, when Ian Happ doubled and scored on Addison Russell's fielder's-choice grounder.

Video: CHC@SF: Russell plates a run on a fielder's choice

Suarez benefited somewhat from the Cubs' unfamiliarity with him.

"We hadn't seen him before," Rizzo said. "We didn't know much about him."

Suarez felt fortunate, since he didn't consider himself at the top of his game.

"My command wasn't there tonight," said the rookie, who walked four. "I had to keep grinding to throw strikes."

Video: CHC@SF: Suarez hurls 6 innings of 1-run ball vs. Cubs

SOUND SMART
Left-hander Tony Watson has not allowed a run in 21 consecutive home games, which is the second-longest streak in a single season in Giants history. Left- hander Javier Lopez set the record of 25 games in 2013.

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Crawford strengthened his All-Star credentials with a typically (for him) sparkling play in the 10th inning. He grabbed Addison Russell's grounder barehanded, knowing that he probably couldn't throw out the fleet Cub by transferring the ball from his glove to his hand. In this case, Crawford was immediately ready to throw, and he retired Russell by an eyelash.

Video: CHC@SF: Crawford nabs grounder with barehand for out

UP NEXT
Continuing to reacquaint himself with his craft, Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make his second start since being idled for two months by an elbow sprain. Cueto, who's scheduled to throw Tuesday's first pitch at 7:15 p.m. PT, has been slightly more stingy at night during his career. His lifetime ERA under the lights is 2.82, compared to 3.24 in day games. The Cubs will counter with left-hander Jose Quintana, who's 0-3 in three career starts against the Giants.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Pablo Sandoval, Andrew Suarez