Giants put on dazzling defensive show vs. Cubs

Span's catch, Posey's snag among fielding highlights in series finale

Giants put on dazzling defensive show vs. Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner's primary flaw Sunday night was his inability to play all nine positions simultaneously.

Fortunately for Bumgarner and the Giants, his teammates sustained a virtually nonstop defensive display ranging from deft to breathtaking as San Francisco outlasted the Chicago Cubs, 1-0.

"All day, we kept making plays, and that's how you win games like that," manager Bruce Bochy said as the Giants improved to 10-5 in one-run decisions.

The Giants began flashing the leather immediately. First baseman Brandon Belt made a deft pickup of Bumgarner's low throw after the left-hander fielded Dexter Fowler's game-opening comebacker. San Francisco's 10th victory in 11 games approached its conclusion when center fielder Denard Span caught up with Ben Zobrist's straightaway drive that appeared destined for extra bases. That accounted for the first out in the ninth inning.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Span and other #ASGWorthy players

"A couple of people tell me that's kind of [like] Candlestick right there," said Span, referring to the wind's effect at the Giants' previous home ballpark that was evident at AT&T Park on Sunday.

Between Belt's and Span's plays, the Giants provided highlights with shortstop Brandon Crawford's backhanded stop of Zobrist's third-inning smash, followed by a strong throw to first base; third baseman Matt Duffy's lunging grab of Kyle Hendricks' fifth-inning grounder; and catcher Buster Posey leaning against the railing in front of the photographers' well to snare Jorge Soler's seventh-inning popup.

Crawford's strong throw

Each of these deeds helped propel Bumgarner to his 7 2/3-inning, three-hit effort in his fifth consecutive winning decision.

"I don't want to say it was just another day at the ballpark," Duffy said. "At the same time, I think we're satisfied with the defense today."

Each play represented a challenge. Duffy, who viewed Crawford's gem from close proximity, wondered whether the Gold Glove winner would jump or throw on the run. As it turned out, Crawford succeeded by planting his fleet and flinging the ball.

On his play, Duffy simply reacted to the hard smash, though he later found out -- as he often does -- that Crawford might have been able to handle the ball without leaving his feet.

"If I take a risk at diving, I maybe kick it into the outfield if it tips off my glove," Duffy said. "But I didn't want to take a chance on the ball squeaking through."

Duffy's diving stop

As Posey pursued Soler's popup, he was aware that Belt was doing the same. Posey also remained mindful of the elements.

"In my years here, a lot of balls hit to the right side stay in play, because of the wind," he said.

Statcast: Posey's running catch

This all led to Span's daring chase of Zobrist's clout off Santiago Casilla. Span turned one way to try to outrun the ball, then backpedaled energetically before catching up with the ball on the warning track.

"My initial turn, I felt like the ball was kind of on my backside," Span began as he recounted the play. "I knew the ball was hit hard. I wanted to gain as much ground as I could, and as soon as I felt like I gained enough ground, that's when I turned my hips, and as soon as I squared my hips, it felt like the ball flew back the same way I had opened up. So I had to kind of do a little shimmy, a little karaoke and try to get my body back to the other side after switching it that way, and I just made a play. Reaction."

Span agreed the defense's importance could not be denied.

"In a one-zip game, the difference is one or two plays in the field."

Or five or six.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.