Lowry gets best of A-Rod in victory

Lowry gets best of A-Rod in victory

SAN FRANCISCO -- The revolving door leading to center stage at AT&'T Park spun nonstop Sunday. But two members of this procession were particularly essential to the Giants' 7-2 Interleague victory over the New York Yankees: Noah Lowry and Alex Rodriguez.

The Giants' second win in a row over New York revolved around Lowry's sixth-inning confrontation with baseball's leading slugger. Rodriguez represented the potential go-ahead run with the bases loaded, one out and San Francisco clinging to a 3-0 lead.

The protagonists endured an 11-pitch at-bat, with Rodriguez fouling off seven 1-2 pitches, before Lowry finally induced a fielder's-choice grounder to short. Although it scored a run and ended Lowry's outing, his ability to prevent a big hit made the difference for the Giants.

The third consecutive regular-season record paid crowd (43,503) at the bayside ballpark received an overload of entertainment. Distinguished alumni from the 1962 World Series, which marked the last time the Yankees and Giants played meaningful games in San Francisco, were honored pregame. Barry Bonds, the Giants' 42-year-old speedster, ran the bases with bygone abandon and led a procession of five stolen bases, a club season high. Making his second career relief appearance, New York's Roger Clemens set a Major League record for the longest stretch between bullpen outings -- 22 years, 341 days. Even Yankees rookie Chris Basak, pinch-hitting to lead off the sixth inning, provided amusement when he lined out to Bonds and, mistakenly believing that his drive fell safely, lingered at second base.

With all that happening, Lowry and Rodriguez remained at the afternoon's forefront.

Lowry, entering his fourth full Major League season, admitted that this confrontation ranked "pretty high" among his personal highlights.

"It's something you live for," said Lowry (7-6), who matched his 2006 victory total. "It's what this game's all about. It's what drives all of us -- that battle, having your back against the wall and persevering through it."

Lowry, who allowed only one hit through five innings, faltered as he walked Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter, sandwiched around Miguel Cairo's single. Up came Rodriguez; on went their struggle.

"I really didn't want to leave anything up, out and over [the plate] for him to hit. Because we all know he's a great hitter," Lowry said. "I really just tried to stay in and out, hard and soft. I was trying to get a ground ball and we got what we wanted."

Rodriguez's succession of fouls -- two grounders outside third base, a popup behind first, a tip to the screen, another grounder past third, one more out of play to the right and a final tip -- mesmerized everybody but Lowry, who read each one like tea leaves.

"I was just kind of adjusting pitch to pitch on his swings, the approach he was taking on each pitch and how he was fouling it off," he said. "I finally got him to roll over on a changeup."

That standoff understandably sapped Lowry's strength.

"I kind of hit a wall out there," said Lowry, who relinquished the mound to Jonathan Sanchez. Hideki Matsui's inning-ending groundout to first launched the effective relief that Randy Messenger and Jack Taschner continued.

The Giants' offense, as it had rarely done during the team's recent swoon, complemented the pitching. San Francisco reached double figures in hits for the second game in a row, the first time that has happened since June 3-4 at Philadelphia. But running actually eclipsed hitting.

Bonds led the track meet, recording the first of the Giants' thefts after drilling a second-inning leadoff single. It was his 263rd stolen base as a Giant, tying him with his father, Bobby, for ninth place on the franchise's all-time list -- and for first place since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. Making a daring dash home, Bonds opened the scoring on Pedro Feliz's sacrifice fly to shallow right field. Kevin Thompson's throw veered toward the left-handed batter's box but beat Bonds. Yet catcher Wil Nieves couldn't come up with the throw as Bonds slid home.

Facing Clemens in the seventh, Bonds walked and again showed off his legs by scampering to third base on Ryan Klesko's single. Bonds then scored on Nate Schierholtz's single, widening the Giants' lead to 4-1.

"I thought [Bonds] really ignited the whole ballclub with his baserunning," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who managed his 2,000th Major League game.

Finishing with a dismal 5-10 Interleague record despite their 2-1 series victory over the Yankees, the Giants return their attention to the National League West. The division's top two teams, San Diego and Arizona, visit AT&T Park for three-game series this week.

"This is who you want in here, to see if you can gain some games back," Klesko said. "Interleague's fun, getting new players coming in, but if you're going to do something, you have to do it with the teams that are in your division."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.