Davis burns former team as Giants win

Davis burns former team as Giants win

PITTSBURGH -- Literally and figuratively, Rajai Davis is pursuing his chance to establish himself with the Giants and diving headlong into it.

Davis proved Monday night that at least one Giant won't go through the motions through the remainder of this lost season. Highlighting a Maysian performance with a remarkable fifth-inning catch, Davis galvanized the Giants throughout their 10-3 victory that earned them a doubleheader split and ended a five-game losing streak. Pittsburgh won the first game, 3-1.

Ryan Klesko broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning of the second game with his 10th career grand slam, but Davis was the man before and after that as he sustained his bid to join what likely will be a reshaped roster in 2008.

"He was playing like he's on a mission," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's showing he belongs and that's what you want to see from young kids."

It was Davis who doubled twice, leading off the sixth and contributing to a five-run seventh by stretching a single into a double. It was Davis who opened the scoring in the first inning after drawing a walk and stealing second and third base.

And it was Davis who made the catch of the season, further tormenting the Pirates for trading him to the Giants for right-hander Matt Morris on July 31.

With one out and Jose Bautista on first base, Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez drove Noah Lowry's 2-0 pitch to left-center field. Davis, playing center field for the injured Dave Roberts, was shading Sanchez slightly toward left and believed he had a chance to catch the ball. But Davis had to use every fiber of his skill to do so. He dashed to the warning track in front of PNC Park's 410-foot-deep notch in left-center field -- the equivalent of AT&T Park's 421-foot right-center field -- and dove to snare the ball, somehow holding onto it as he slid face-first on the dirt.

"I thought from the jump I had a good chance of getting it, and then I realized I had to run a little faster because that was ball was out there tailing a little bit more toward the left fielder," Davis said.

A former point guard in basketball, the 26-year-old Davis used an analogy from that sport to explain his feat.

"I picked out a spot -- kind of like basketball, if a man beats you, pick out a spot and you get in front of him," Davis continued. "I picked out a spot where I thought the ball was going to be, put my head down, ran, and then I picked up the ball and it was right there."

It saved a run, preserved the tie and likely prompted the Giants' subsequent offensive outburst.

"This guy is playing inspiring baseball. Sometimes that does spark a ballclub," Bochy said of Davis, who's batting .522 (12-for-23) with six doubles, a triple and seven stolen bases in eight tries in 10 games as a Giant.

The way the Giants talked, Davis' catch was worth their extra trip to Pittsburgh. The doubleheader was necessitated by postponements April 14-15.

"One of the finest I've seen," Bochy said. "The range, diving on the track, catching it right before it hit the ground."

"It's definitely in the top three that I've seen," Lowry said. "To cover the amount of ground that he covered on that play and to stay under control and to make that kind of a catch on the run, that's pretty incredible."

"It has to be the top play of the night or for the week and maybe the top five for the year," Klesko said.

Davis' efforts have delivered a clear message to Bochy, who must create opportunities to wedge him in the lineup when Roberts is healthy and Barry Bonds wants to play, and to general manager Brian Sabean, who roamed PNC Park with his ear glued to his cellular phone.

"All I know is, Dave Roberts' knee had better start feeling better," Klesko jokingly said.

Having lost 12 of 14 games to Pittsburgh dating back to 2005, including a three-game Pirates sweep in San Francisco last weekend, the Giants interrupted the trend with only their fifth double-digit output of the season. It provided ample support for Lowry (13-7), who missed his last start with left forearm tightness but recovered to yield two runs in seven innings. Lowry tied Colorado's Jeff Francis, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels and the Chicago Cubs' Ted Lilly for most wins by a National League left-hander.

"I was happy to not have to hold back," said Lowry, who received seven days' rest, three more than usual.

Luck also benefited the Giants in the nightcap. With the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, Daniel Ortmeier appeared to hit an inning-ending comebacker for a double play, but left-hander Shane Youman's wide throw enabled Pittsburgh to record just one out. That prolonged the inning for Klesko, who lined Youman's 3-2 pitch into the right-field seats.

By contrast, the Giants mustered three hits in the opener against Paul Maholm (8-14) and wasted Matt Cain's strong seven-inning effort. The Giants scored less than three runs behind Cain for the 15th time in his 24 starts as Maholm pitched his second career complete game.

Between games, the Pirates honored Bonds, who broke Hank Aaron's all-time home run record last Tuesday. Bonds, who went 1-for-3 in the first game, began his Major League career with seven seasons in Pittsburgh (1986-92). Unlike most road audiences, the paid crowd of 25,434 cheered Bonds during the opener and gave him a warm ovation after the video, prompting him to emerge from the dugout, doff his cap and acknowledge the cheers.

Davis might merit his own tribute video at the current rate.

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