Giants win wild one in 10

Pence's ninth-inning homer ties it, keys victory over Cubs

San Jose Mercury NewsApril 14, 2013 

— Exactly four hours of baseball at Wrigley Field on Sunday featured four lead changes, a record number of wild pitches, a go-ahead balk, a milestone for a rookie and an unforgettable memory for a hometown kid.

The box score also included an inconsistent start from Tim Lincecum and a slump-busting hit by Buster Posey, but all the standouts and quirks ultimately took a back seat to Hunter Pence, the Giants' quirky standout who had the biggest of many big hits during the Giants' 10-7 extra-innings victory over the Chicago Cubs.

"That was fun," Pence said when it was all over. "I hope everyone was entertained."

With the Giants a strike away from taking a 7-6 loss, Pence homered to give the Giants new life after they had blown a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth. An inning later, Hector Sanchez scored the go-ahead run on a balk, and Posey broke an 0-for-10 skid with a single that padded the lead.

Sergio Romo closed the door in the bottom of the 10th, clinching a series victory for the Giants, who spent much of a sunny day staring at what would have been a disappointing series split.

Pence changed that with one mammoth swing that put a Shawn Camp slider a half-dozen rows back in the left-center field bleachers. The blast was Pence's fourth homer of the year and his first game-tying home run that late in a game.

"That's the Hunter Pence we traded for," said George Kontos, a Chicago native who picked up the win in front of more than 40 friends and family members.

Pence struggled at the plate after a trade deadline deal last season, but he rededicated himself in the offseason, altering his workout routine and embracing a new, disciplined diet. He said he feels better than ever, and the results are promising for a Giants team desperate for a big bat behind Posey.

Pence is hitting .288 through 13 games and was 3 for 4 with a walk on Sunday.

"He's doing things that we knew he could do," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's seeing the ball better. He looks good up there, and it feels like he's got better balance at the plate."

The Giants know what Lincecum is capable of, too, and despite some shaky early results, the right-hander continues to show intriguing flashes. On Sunday, Lincecum gave up two first-inning two-run homers on change-ups that he didn't finish but settled in to retire 12 of the next 13.

Lincecum got a huge strikeout of Anthony Rizzo to end the fifth, and Bochy planned to keep Lincecum in the game, but the Giants rallied in the top of the sixth and Nick Noonan was called upon to pinch-hit with two runners on. The rookie's single scored two and gave the Giants a 5-4 lead.

"It helps me fit in a little bit better, I think," said Noonan, who picked up his first two career RBIs. "It shows them that I belong here."

Noonan's hit was the big blow during a four-run rally that was partially gifted to the Giants. Right-handers Edwin Jackson and Michael Bowden combined to walk four in the inning and throw five wild pitches, setting a major league record.

After the teams exchanged runs in the seventh inning, the Cubs rallied for the lead. One of Jeremy Affeldt's three walks came with the bases loaded, and the go-ahead run was scored on a sacrifice fly.

That set the stage for Pence, who extended the game with the Giants' lone homer of the four-game series. Pence stormed through the dugout after the blast, offering one enthusiastic high-five after another.

"I'm sorry, I get excited," he said, laughing. "I do a lot of things I wish I didn't do when I get excited. It was just a great feeling. That's what we're here for, moments like that."

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