SAN FRANCISCO -- After a seven-pitch battle brought the count full, Derek Law let loose a 95 mph fastball up in the zone and far enough away from Dexter Fowler's bat. Fowler swung through and missed, and Law spun off the mound. He pumped his fist twice, pounded his chest and bounced into the dugout.
Law continued to provide a spark of energy on the bench, securing an orange rally towel from a nearby fan and waving it throughout the rest of the night, but his contributions on the mound were even more valuable. And he was not alone in that regard. Having to pick up for an atypically human Madison Bumgarner, the Giants bullpen cobbled together eight strong innings to stave off elimination in their 6-5, 13-inning win over the Cubs on Monday night at AT&T Park.
"That's what it usually comes down to at this stage," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after his team forced a Game 4 on Tuesday at 8:30 ET/5:30 PT on FS1. "The bullpen's got to come through for you, and those guys did it."
The Giants bullpen, expertly managed by Bochy, was a strength in each of their even-year runs to the World Series. But this year's group was perceived as a weakness. They blew 30 saves during the regular season, the most by any playoff team since saves became an official statistic in 1969, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Now, it has become an unlikely strength.
But for a moment, after Law and Hunter Strickland bridged the three-inning gap between Bumgarner and closer Sergio Romo, it appeared the Giants' Achilles' heel in September would be their undoing in October. Romo walked Fowler and served up a game-tying homer to Kris Bryant in the ninth, coughing up the Giants' two-run lead.
But Bochy had faith in Romo, letting him stay in the game. Romo responded by recording six straight outs.
"It's baseball. It's one of the reasons I love baseball the most. You never know what's going to happen next," Romo said. "It's all about being in the moment. In that moment, I didn't get it done. That's what it was. Once it happened, get back into the moment again and we still had a shot to win. We're still in the game. Can't give up there, got to keep fighting."
Until lefty Ty Blach gave up a pair of one-out singles in the 13th inning, Bryant's homer was the only hit allowed by the Giants bullpen. Left-hander Will Smith pitched a perfect 11th inning, then Blach -- a rookie with four games of regular-season Major League experience -- took over and tossed two scoreless frames with San Francisco's season on the line.
"I think one of the better things he's done since he's been here is he's had a really quiet confidence about him," catcher Buster Posey said. "He's made a couple appearances in this series and got some big outs for us."
Law's confidence was less quiet but every bit as obvious Monday night, out on full display as he whipped an orange towel above his head and his teammates piled up crucial late-inning outs to keep San Francisco's season alive.
"I kind of used it as good juju," Law said. "It kind of got me more pumped up, honestly. I didn't think there was any way to do that."
Adam Berry has covered baseball for MLB.com since 2011. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.