Giants upbeat after Game 2 rally despite Cards' walk-off win
By Chris Haft
ST. LOUIS -- The Giants appeared devoid of disappointment after their 5-4 loss Sunday night to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. And why not?
Certainly, they missed a chance to jump ahead 2-0 in the best-of-seven series when Kolten Wong led off the Cardinals' half of the ninth by lining Sergio Romo's 1-0 pitch over the right-field barrier to break a 4-4 tie. But the game was so tumultuous that they felt a tad exhilarated, as if they had just finished bungee-jumping or zip-lining. The Giants overcame a 2-0 deficit to inch ahead, 3-2, in the seventh inning and trailed, 4-3, after eight before pulling even in the ninth with a rally that Romo called "inexplicable."
Then Wong spoiled the Giants' evening. But he didn't break their spirit.
"Obviously it's disappointing any time you lose, but this bunch isn't going to get down," Giants right-hander Jake Peavy said. "We have too many professionals in this locker room who believe, for lack of a better word. We're going to get it done somehow, some way. ... You've got to feel good about the way the boys fought to the last out."
San Francisco allowed four home runs, three of which were coughed up by the typically reliable bullpen. After Jeremy Affeldt relieved Peavy in the fifth and worked two scoreless innings, Jean Machi surrendered pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras' seventh-inning round-tripper that tied the score at 3. Rookie right-hander Hunter Strickland then gave upMatt Adams' clout with one out in the eighth that gave St. Louis a 4-3 edge.
Then came Wong's long ball off Romo, who allowed a career-high nine homers during the regular season. The fateful pitch was a changeup that Romo "pulled back to the middle a little bit," catcher Buster Posey said.
Strickland has allowed four home runs in 4 1/3 postseason innings, prompting speculation about his status on the roster if the Giants advance to the World Series. Giants manager Bruce Bochy maintained faith in Strickland: "This kid's going to be just fine. ... He makes some mistakes and he'll learn from them."
Morse makes it back:Michael Morse provided encouragement and some offense by grounding a pinch-hit infield single in the seventh inning. Hampered by a strained left oblique, the slugging first baseman/left fielder hadn't played since Sept. 19. The Giants left Morse off the roster for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series, but he continued to rehabilitate his injury and sharpen his swing as much as possible.
Peavy understood why Bochy made the switch, observing that he likely would have stayed in the game during the regular season.
"There's not a bad taste in my mouth. I just wish I could have kept them off the board," said Peavy, who allowed two runs and four hits in four innings.
Affeldt stabilized the Giants after Peavy yielded single runs in the third and fourth innings. Brandon Crawford assisted Affeldt with a nice stop and strong throw from deep shortstop to retire Matt Holliday in the fifth inning. Affeldt walked Peralta to open the sixth, which preceded the double-play grounder on which Yadier Molina injured his left oblique.
ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS
With a sixth-inning double, Pablo Sandoval extended his postseason streak of reaching base safely to 20 consecutive games, dating back to Game 4 of the 2012 Division Series against Cincinnati. It's the longest active mark in the Major Leagues and one short of Barry Bonds' franchise record of 21. Miguel Cabrera owns the Major League record with a 31-game streak.
During this span, Sandoval's batting .376 (32-for-85) with seven doubles, six homers, 14 RBIs and six walks.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Brandon Belt went 1-for-3 with a walk and has reached base 16 times in 33 plate appearances during this postseason. He's hitting .360 (9-for-25) with a home run and six RBIs in seven postseason games.
• Solo home runs have accounted for eight of the 14 runs San Francisco has allowed in this postseason.
• This was the Giants' second postseason defeat in franchise history resulting from a walk-off homer. Benny Agbayani of the New York Mets hit the other one, off Aaron Fultz in Game 3 of the Division Series on Oct. 7, 2000.