MILWAUKEE -- Mark Melancon yielded a lead but not the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Giants rewarded their closer's amazing escape in a big way.
Hunter Pence hit a go-ahead single as San Francisco scored four runs before making their first out of the 10th inning, overcoming Melancon's blown save in a wild 9-5 win over the Brewers on Thursday at Miller Park.
"We've had some tough times and you know, we give up a two-run lead there in the ninth and find a way to win the ballgame," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That really can get a club down, but it shows a lot of battle on the character and how resilient they are to put a four-spot up, especially on a road trip that hasn't been great for us."
Eric Sogard homered leading off the ninth against Melancon, who'd never allowed a home run in his first 35 career appearances against Milwaukee, and Travis Shaw hit a tying single that moved the winning runner to third base with nobody out. But Melancon silenced the Brewers' rally right there, retiring three batters in a row including Brewers catcher Jett Bandy on a screaming line drive to leaping Giants third baseman Eduardo Nunez.
The Giants made the most of the opportunity against Brewers relievers Jacob Barnes and Rob Scahill, pulling ahead on Pence's single up the middle in the 10th and padding the lead on run-scoring hits for Denard Span and Nunez. A fourth run scored when left fielder Eric Thames lost Joe Panik's sacrifice fly in the sun.
"We talk about tough games every night. It's part of the DNA of this team," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We'll recover from them. We have recovered from them. It's not going to be easy. I think we've pretty much declared that. So, enjoy the ride."
Thames homered for the Brewers against the Giants' Johnny Cueto, but Panik and rookie Austin Slater went deep for the Giants against Brewers spot starter Paolo Espino, and former Brewer Aaron Hill delivered his second pinch-hit, go-ahead double of the series. It came in a two-run sixth that gave San Francisco its two-run lead that lasted into the ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Disputed double: For a moment, it appeared the Brewers had tied the game in the ninth one batter before Shaw's single, when Thames raced home on Aguilar's double to left field. Aguilar moved to third when the baseball bounced past the catcher, but by that point, plate umpire Ed Hickox was already ordering Thames back to third because the baseball had briefly lodged in a gap between the padding at the base of the outfield wall. The ruling that was upheld after Counsell challenged.
"That surprised me with that play. I don't know how they called it," Aguilar said. "But we had a chance to win that inning, and didn't. We have to keep going now."
Going up top: Bandy had a tough-luck afternoon. After smashing a 101.3 mph (according to Statcast™) line drive right to shortstop Brandon Crawford with the bases loaded in the first inning, he watched Nunez make a game-saving catch of another liner in the ninth. Bandy went down for a curveball and hit it in the direction of Nunez, who went up for a leaping catch that denied the Brewers a walk-off win.
"We needed a break at that point," said Bochy, who quickly amended that. "It's not really a break -- it's just good defense and it shows you how athletic Nunez is. I think once he got out of it, he said it was a sense of relief and the guys were pretty fired up."
"I saw every single thing of it," Bandy said. "Every bit of it. It was a good play. It's baseball."
"It felt like new life. I think it is pretty evident by the at-bats everyone put together in the 10th. Even the outs were tough at-bats. I thought it was a great offensive inning for us." -- Slater, on Nunez's game-saving catch
MILESTONE FOR SLATER
Slater's go-ahead home run traveled a Statcast-projected 461 feet, making it the longest this season by a Major League rookie -- take that, Aaron Judge -- plus the longest by a Giant in 2017 and the second-longest by a Giant in the Statcast™ Era. Only Brandon Belt's 475-foot homer on May 22, 2015, traveled further in the past three years. It came on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, after Espino floated a 2-2 curveball to the high and away corner of the strike zone but didn't get the call from plate umpire Ed Hickox.
"Honestly, I felt like I was getting more comfortable my first start here in Milwaukee," Slater said. "The first two in Philly, everything was moving quick because that's something you look forward to your whole life playing ball. I put together some good at-bats the last couple of at-bats Tuesday. I felt great at the plate today."
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: The Giants head back home for a three-game series with the Twins, beginning at 7:15 p.m. PDT on Friday. Lefty Matt Moore gets the ball and will look to bounce back after a loss to the Phillies on Sunday, where he allowed five runs on six hits over four innings.
Brewers: The Brewers will travel west to take on the D-backs in a three-game set at 8:40 p.m. CT on Friday. Zach Davies makes his second start against the D-backs this season. He last faced the D-backs in a 4-0 loss at Miller Park on May 25, giving up two home runs and seven hits over six innings.