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Rally in 13th gets Giants closer to Dodgers

Susac drives in game-winning run to cut West deficit to 3 1/2 games

LOS ANGELES -- Andrew Susac had a mandate to maintain his concentration as another Giants-Dodgers classic unfolded Monday. Around the ninth inning, he received advice from Carl Kochan, San Francisco's strength and conditioning coach: "Make sure you're ready. Stay locked in." Susac channeled that focus into his 13th-inning pinch-hit appearance, when he delivered a tiebreaking single that helped lift the Giants to a 5-2 victory.

Both teams' refusal to give in, reflected by the game's sheer length, demonstrated the traditional rivals' intent on winning. After all, each played for high stakes. The outcome sustained the Giants' flickering hopes of winning the National League West by freezing the Dodgers' magic number for clinching the division title at three. Los Angeles must win the series' next two games to enjoy the privilege of performing a victory dance in front of the Giants.

Meanwhile, the Giants remained tied with Pittsburgh atop the Wild Card standings. San Francisco's magic number for securing the second Wild Card berth -- and a one-game showdown against Pittsburgh on Oct. 1 for the right to advance to the Division Series -- dwindled to two. Any combination of Milwaukee defeats and San Francisco victories totaling two will send the Giants to the postseason.

San Francisco, which stranded 11 runners, including six in scoring position from the sixth through 11th innings, finally broke through against Kevin Correia, an ex-Giants right-hander who was Los Angeles' seventh reliever of the evening.

Brandon Belt singled with one out and moved to second base on Juan Perez's groundout. Following an intentional walk to Brandon Crawford, Susac lined a first-pitch curveball on a bounce to left field. Belt, who was thrown out at home plate by center fielder Yasiel Puig in the 11th inning, scored easily this time as left fielder Carl Crawford's throw veered wide.

"I put everything I had into the play at hand," said Belt, who started only his third game since overcoming concussion symptoms and being activated from the disabled list Sept. 15. "I was low on fuel, but I had enough to get across."

Belt's multiple-hit performance -- he also singled in the 11th inning -- was an encouraging sign for the Giants, who lately have struggled to produce offense.

"Every time I can see a ball coming at me, I feel like I'm getting better," Belt said. "I got to keep on chugging along, I guess."

Susac, who mustered his hit despite being bothered by a cold, entered the game with the third-most RBIs among NL rookies since he was recalled July 26. After receiving Kochan's words of wisdom, Susac let them steep in the back of his mind. At first, he said, "I didn't think much of it." But as the innings rolled along, Susac realized, "We were running out of people."

The Giants kept charging as Gregor Blanco, who homered to open the game, lined a double to right field. That scored Crawford, and Susac came across when Blanco got trapped in a rundown after turning toward third base.

This was a collective triumph for the Giants' pitchers.

"I can't say enough about what they did," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Los Angeles collected four hits, bunching all of them into the fifth and sixth innings against starter Jake Peavy, who worked seven resolute innings. Peavy lost his no-hitter and shutout when Carl Crawford homered leading off the fifth.

Peavy's final inning began a stretch of seven no-hit innings that included two double plays. Bochy used Jean Machi and Santiago Casilla for two innings apiece, strategy he ordinarily avoids. Bochy revealed that he also would have used Sergio Romo for two innings if his turn in the batting order hadn't come around in the ninth inning, necessitating a pinch-hitter.

"At this stage of the season, you're going to do things a little differently," Bochy said.

Right-hander Hunter Strickland had to pitch only one inning. The hard-throwing rookie pitched a perfect 13th inning, striking out two, and recorded his first Major League save.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
Read More: San Francisco Giants, Andrew Susac, Jake Peavy, Gregor Blanco