Sports

Giants score two in ninth off Merced's Fuentes to beat Rockies

DENVER -- You'll hear all of the requisite trumpet blasts for Omar Vizquel's defensive prowess in the coming days, when the 11-time Gold Glove winner breaks Luis Aparicio's record for games played by a shortstop.

But lest anyone forget, Vizquel also ranks as the game's active hits leader. Even at 41, his bat control and situational skills can make a difference in a game.

They did for the Giants on Wednesday. Vizquel hit a leadoff double in the ninth inning that sparked a tying, two-run rally against former Merced High and Merced College pitcher Brian Fuentes, the closer for the Colorado Rockies. In the 10th, Vizquel's sacrifice fly scored Ray Durham with the go-ahead run as the Giants rallied for a 3-2 victory at Coors Field.

The Giants were 1-24 when trailing after eight innings and would have fallen to 1-25 if not for an improbable hit from queasy backup catcher Steve Holm. After Bengie Molina's single scored Vizquel, Holm hit a two-out double that plated pinch runner Daniel Ortmeier to tie it.

Holm was supposed to start but began feeling ill after batting practice, wobbled into the clubhouse and lost his breakfast.

"By the fourth or fifth inning, I started to feel hungry," Holm said. "They had me eat a little to see if it would stay down. I had a couple of animal crackers."

Holm didn't toss the cookies. But as the game went to extra innings, he considered the Giants didn't have another catcher.

"That's what I was thinking," Holm said. "Don't let this thing go 18 innings."

If it did, Holm would have needed more than a box of Barnum's.

"We had the IV ready," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He wasn't coming out, no matter what."

That has been Vizquel's credo for 20 seasons. He played his 2,581st game at shortstop, which means he'll tie and pass Aparicio's record of 2,583 this weekend if he plays all three games in the series at Florida.

Miami is the transportation gateway to most of Latin America, and considering the deluge of requests the Giants are receiving from Venezuelan and other Spanish-speaking media, there could be more reporters than fans at Dolphin Stadium.

Vizquel has said he needs a resurgent year at the plate to extend his career beyond this season, though he slumped in recent days. He was in a 1-for-16 slide before hitting a single in the sixth inning.

Scouts have noted his bat speed continues to slip, but Vizquel didn't get 2,609 hits without knowing how to execute.

"Good thing I didn't rest him," Bochy said. "I was thinking about it, but I talked to him and he feels fine."

Hitting coach Carney Lansford said he's ecstatic to have Vizquel back in the lineup.

"Because now we have a chance with our shortstop offensively," Lansford said. "Before, and I love Brian Bocock to death, but he's just overmatched at this level. Offensively, you have to get something out of your shortstop. You can't just be an out every time."

The Giants were doing a fair job of that for seven innings against Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. The last time the Giants faced Jimenez at Coors Field, Barry Bonds made a Colorado resident $376,612 richer -- minus auction fees and taxes, of course. Bonds got barely enough of a 99 mph fastball from Jimenez for his 762nd and last major-league home run, which stands as the record.

Without Bonds, Jimenez barely allowed the Giants a ball in the air. Grounders, including two double-play bouncers, accounted for 16 of the Giants' 18 outs through six innings.

Jonathan Sanchez followed Tim Lincecum's example by keeping the Rockies out of big innings, and the Giants' bullpen kept the deficit manageable.

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