Unheralded defense a key cog for Giants

Unheralded defense a key cog for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Throughout the postseason, the Giants have caught breaks when opposing fielders haven't properly executed.

There was the three-error performance by Atlanta's Brooks Conrad in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, as well as a tough grounder off the elbow of Phillies second baseman Chase Utley in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series that led to the Giants' final run.

Lost in all of the talk regarding San Francisco's elite pitching staff and its no-superstar offense has been a defense that has produced solid, if not spectacular plays all season long. During the regular season, the Giants tied with three other teams for the best fielding percentage in the Majors (.988), and they are the second-best defensive team remaining in the playoffs in terms of errors and fielding percentage, behind only the Yankees.

"Defense is one of those things that no one really gives us credit for," Giants reliever Sergio Romo said. "We play defense really, really well."

That was on full display in Wednesday's 6-5 win in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Phillies. In the fifth inning, center fielder Aaron Rowand threw out Carlos Ruiz at home plate, both a spot-on throw by Rowand and also a spectacular pick and block of home by catcher Buster Posey. In the top of the ninth, shortstop Juan Uribe came off the bench and made a play on a hard grounder off the bat of Ross Gload. Uribe had to backpedal to get the ball before throwing while falling backward to nab Gload for the out.

"I think everybody in this clubhouse has said at one time or another that pitching and defense wins championships, and anybody who watches the games can see that," Rowand said. "You see where defensive plays on the good end, end up changing plays. It all comes down to pitching and defense, and then whoever can squeak across a run ...

"You've got to make every play and you can't afford to give teams extra outs, and good plays on defense can be momentum changers. You've got to play sound defense and hopefully get a couple of key hits mixed in there with good pitching."