SAN FRANCISCO -- Even third-base coach Tim Flannery left the field Thursday with grass stains on his knees. So it's easy to imagine the intensity maintained by the Giants who actually played. Their 6-2 decision over the St. Louis Cardinals was neither spectacular nor pretty, not with two throwing errors, only seven hits and Barry Bonds on the bench. But San Francisco sustained a diligent effort to record its fourth victory in five games and extend the world champion Cardinals' losing streak to four. The embodiment of the Giants' fervor was Ryan Klesko, whose fifth-inning triple drove in Ray Durham with the first run that began their comeback from a 2-0 deficit. Klesko finished his trip around the bases by flopping into third in an act that was equally awkward and entertaining.
"It wasn't a slide. I think it was a fall," said Klesko, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and fell a home run short of hitting for the cycle. "I usually don't slide headfirst, as you can tell. I'm glad I have the skin left on my chin." Asked to describe Klesko's slide, manager Bruce Bochy asked, "On the Richter scale?" Klesko was signaled to slide by Flannery, who flattened himself on the turf as he hollered instructions. Hence, the grass stains. "When Flann slides, you slide. That's the rule of thumb," Klesko said. Klesko's rough landing didn't surprise Flannery. "That's the way he lives his life," Flannery said. Citing Klesko's line of surfing attire dubbed "Mindless Reaction," Flannery concluded, "That is how I describe Klesko." By his actions, Flannery also helped define the Giants' performance, reflecting his zeal upon returning to coaching after a four-year hiatus. "Any time you see a third-base coach with grass stains on his pants, you know he's working hard out there," said Rich Aurilia, whose two-run, sixth-inning double broke a 2-2 tie. But to Flannery, Thursday's essential moment was neither his exuberance nor Klesko's hustle. Flannery cited the play that opened the Giants' fifth, when Durham reached base safely as St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols dropped second baseman Aaron Miles' simple throw. "Today the game was won because Ray Durham ran out a ground ball," Flannery declared. "He just ran out a ground ball the way you're supposed to play the game. If you play the game right, the game will honor you. By doing that, Pujols drops a ball and we get two runs because of it." Those were the first runs the Giants scored this season behind Noah Lowry (1-2), who ranked second to Matt Cain in lucklessness among the team's starters. The Giants collected three runs in the sixth to secure the victory for themselves and Lowry, who allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings. With one out, Dave Roberts grounded an infield single and Omar Vizquel drew a walk from St. Louis starter Kip Wells (1-3). Up came Aurilia, who lashed a 2-1 pitch into the left-field corner. After Durham walked and Klesko singled, Randy Winn's sacrifice fly scored Aurilia, who owns a 12-game hitting streak. "I feel like I'm seeing the ball well," Aurilia said. "If I don't swing at a lot of bad pitches, I'm usually doing all right." Aurilia added that after overcoming the strained groin that hampered him in late March and early April, "I kept working at it and got back in a rhythm." San Francisco's defense helped Lowry maintain his rhythm, despite the pair of errors. Aurilia, playing third base, made a leaping catch of David Eckstein's line drive on the game's first pitch, Winn executed a sliding grab of Preston Wilson's bloop in shallow right field to end the third inning with two Cardinals on base, and Vizquel roamed into short left field to snare Skip Schumaker's seventh-inning popup. "That's what I need out there," Lowry said. "I'm not going to strike guys out." The Giants need such balance between offense and defense to continue their recovery from a 1-6 start. Overcoming a deficit for the second game in a row also has bolstered their confidence. "It builds the character of your team," Aurilia said. "We didn't have our big guy [Bonds] in the lineup today, but it shows we still can come back."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.