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Giants fall despite stunning rally

Giants fall despite stunning rally

CHICAGO -- If the mythical baseball gods were just, they would have awarded the Giants a victory Saturday for the drama they provided with their ceaseless effort.

But the thrills the Giants generated still weren't enough to avoid their sixth consecutive loss, an 8-7, 11-inning decision captured by the Chicago Cubs.

Reed Johnson's one-out, tie-breaking RBI single off Brian Wilson ended the game, but not the Giants' misery. They're 0-5 on their current trip and face the possibility of stewing in a season-high seven-game losing streak during their four-day All-Star break.

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At least the Giants proved that they maintain the pluck that has sustained them through much of the season. They trailed 7-0 through seven innings before scoring two in the eighth and five in the ninth to blow plenty of dust off their record books -- if such items still exist in the Internet age. The Giants hadn't wiped out a seven-run deficit since April 30, 2004 against Florida, when they trailed 9-2 after two innings and won, 12-9. The last time they scored at least five ninth-inning runs was April 26, 1985, when they surged for six runs to outlast Cincinnati, 7-6.

San Francisco had lacked this kind of resilience -- and offense. The Giants had scored only seven runs while dropping the previous five games, three of which featured margins of at least four runs. They lost the other pair of games by two runs and never led in either.

"If you look at the silver lining, we did come back," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They didn't lay down. That's all you can ask."

Actually, the Giants would have preferred better luck in the 11th inning, which began in a 7-7 tie and with pitcher Sean Marshall (2-2), 1-for-4 at the plate this season, singling off Wilson (0-2). The All-Star closer then walked Mark DeRosa after forging ahead in the count, 0-2.

Mike Fontenot's unsuccessful sacrifice-bunt try forced Marshall at third base before Johnson lashed a 2-0 pitch into right field -- where Emmanuel Burriss, who entered the game in the ninth inning as a pinch runner, was stationed. Burriss, an infielder who hadn't played outfield since spending one inning in center as a collegian at Kent State, charged and handled the ball expertly and fired a one-hop throw home, only slightly to the first-base side of the plate. Catcher Bengie Molina applied his tag on the sliding DeRosa, but home-plate umpire Mike DiMuro immediately made the "safe" call.

"I thought [DeRosa] was out," Molina said. "I got my glove right out in front of the plate and he slid right on top of it. But the umpire had a good angle, so maybe he saw something I didn't see, that I didn't feel."

Bochy was forced to use Burriss in right field since the bench was depleted and Randy Winn, who pinch-hit in the eighth inning, was limited by a bruised right knee. But Burriss, who said he sometimes fools around as an outfielder during early batting practice, felt entirely comfortable.

"It wasn't like [Bochy] was telling me to go pitch," Burriss said. "I was pretty confident I could handle it. Playing shortstop, you have a pretty good idea of the game and what to do. You have to be pretty much athletic enough to play anywhere. I'm glad they had confidence in me."

The Giants kept their faith even after Rich Harden, who shrank his career ERA against them to 0.68, struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings in his Cubs debut.

Ray Durham singled, Molina doubled and Aaron Rowand singled to produce the eighth-inning runs. That was nothing compared to the ninth.

Ivan Ochoa, playing in his first Major League game, doubled leading off. He advanced to third base on Eugenio Velez's groundout and held as Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol bobbled Jose Castillo's weak grounder, which was ruled a single. Durham's single scored Ochoa and advanced Castillo to third.

Molina's single shaved the difference to 7-4 and Rowand walked to load the bases. John Bowker hit a grounder to first baseman Derrek Lee, who threw to second to force out Rowand. But shortstop Ryan Theriot's return throw was late and in the dirt, enabling Castillo to score. Marmol then grazed Rich Aurilia with a pitch to re-load the bases.

Pinch-hitter Eliezer Alfonzo hit a grounder toward left field that Theriot dove for and smothered, but he overthrew second base from the seat of his pants in an ill-advised attempt to force out Burriss. The ball bounced into right field as Molina and Burriss scored. Ochoa's fly to right field ended the inning.

Though that rally obviously revived the Giants, at least one of them believed the afternoon was ruined much earlier. Starter Kevin Correia lasted only 3 2/3 innings, yielding seven runs and nine hits. Jim Edmonds was Correia's primary tormentor, delivering a two-run homer in the third inning and a two-run double in a four-run fourth.

"We definitely need him to get his game back," Bochy said of Correia, the No. 5 starter who owns a 5.81 ERA. "He has all the pitches to succeed up here."

Unsparing in his self-criticism, Correia called the outing his worst in a long time.

"It just seemed like from Pitch 1 it was not good," Correia said after the Giants dropped a season-high 16 games below .500 (39-55). "It seemed like anything I threw over the plate, they were going to hit it hard. I just felt like I shouldn't have been on the field with those guys.

"Everyone played so well today, we should have won, and I was pretty much the only one who didn't hold up his end of the deal."

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

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