With one on and two outs in the seventh inning of a 2-1 deficit, starting pitcher Matt Morris was left in the game to face Padres starter Chris Young, who up until that point was cruising through 6 2/3 innings, allowing just the one run on five hits with seven punchouts.
"If I had had a lot of pitchers, I would have made the right move," Giants manager Felipe Alou told the Associated Press, explaining why he stuck with Morris instead of a pinch-hitter.
"I know the bullpen had been used a lot," Morris told the AP. "I told Felipe, 'I'll go as long as you want.'"
Then the momentum started to shift.
Young (7-4) grooved a fastball down the pipe to Morris, and the Giants right-hander deposited the pitch into left field for a single to set up San Francisco's comeback rally.
Outfielder Randy Winn followed with a remarkable at-bat against Young, drawing a walk that chased the Padres starting pitcher out of the game.
The momentum would shift even further.
Vizquel may not have been selected as the starting shortstop for the 2006 National League All-Star team, but to his teammates, the 39-year-old glove wizard has proven his star power in San Francisco throughout the first half of the season.
The Giants shortstop continued his stellar clutch hitting when he laced a single to right field, driving home the tying and go-ahead runs to help San Francisco take the final game of the four-game set, 6-2, over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
"A two-out rally is pretty good," Vizquel told the AP. "Morris got a big hit and Randy Winn has an unbelievable at-bat. The whole inning was awesome."
Rookie Brian Wilson was awesome in his own right as he notched his first major-league save in relief of Morris (7-7) and fellow reliever Steve Kline, who failed to retire a batter in the eighth, but departed with the bases loaded.
Wilson, who was just recalled to the team Saturday, displayed his wicked repertoire of pitches and an equally nasty demeanor to squash any Padres threat of a comeback.
The right-hander retired five of the six batters he faced to close the deal for the Giants, something the bullpen has not been able to do the first two games of the series, a series in which could have been a rare four-game sweep for the visiting team.
So it goes, San Francisco (42-40) may be just as glad to scratch out the last two games and earn a series split, which enabled them to stay within one game of the front-running Padres (43-39).
The Giants now head to the always dangerous confines of Coors Field to face the Colorado Rockies (42-39), who are second in the tight NL West race.
San Francisco will send lefty Noah Lowry (3-5, 3.86 ERA) to the mound against right-hander Aaron Cook (6-7, 3.49). The game will be televised locally on KTVU at 5:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Manager Felipe Alou is now one win away from 1,000 career victories... The Giants' starting rotation continues to lead the league with a 4.05 ERA... Since May 14, starters Matt Morris and Jason Schmidt are a combined 8-4 with a 2.47 ERA... And "About Schmidt," the Giants ace right-hander was named to his third All-Star berth Sunday after posting the second-lowest ERA in the league... Third baseman Pedro Feliz hit his third homer in as many days, blasting his 13th of the year... Second baseman Ray Durham also slugged one, his 10th of the season.
SFDugout's Player of the Game: Giants' starter Matt Morris not only contributed with his bat, but pitched a tremendous game to boot. The right-hander threw 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out six batters. Morris also scratched his way back to .500, somewhere he has not been for two months.
Here's hoping the prized free-agent signing has finally turned the corner and is finally comfortable with his new team. The Giants will surely need more outings like Sunday's to make a run in the second half of the season.
Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.
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