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Giants walk off on Gregg's wild pitch

Giants walk off on Gregg's wild pitch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Emmanuel Burriss' last impetuous dash toward third base met with unfortunate results. But the effect was short-term.

That was proven in Thursday's ninth inning, when Burriss tagged up at second base and sped to third on Randy Winn's medium-deep fly ball. That put Burriss in position to score on Kevin Gregg's two-out wild pitch, which lifted the Giants to a 4-3 victory over the Florida Marlins.

Burriss, 23, is among the rookies who are enduring on-the-job Major League training. This process guarantees that they'll make occasional mistakes. Such was the case last Sunday at Atlanta, where Burriss doubled with one out in the first inning and inexplicably thought he could surprise everybody with a stolen-base attempt while pitcher Charlie Morton still had the ball. Burriss was thrown out easily, foiling the Giants' chances at a productive inning.

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This time, Burriss was exclusively responsible for the production. Batting left-handed, his weaker side, he drew a one-out walk from Gregg (6-6) and stole second, his 11th successful theft in 15 tries, on a 2-1 pitch to Winn. When Winn flew out, Burriss didn't hesitate to advance.

Gregg's 0-1 pitch to Fred Lewis dipped low, inside and in the dirt, before it skipped toward the visitors' dugout on the first-base side. Burriss scored easily, breaking a 3-3 tie and giving the Giants their second consecutive last-at-bat victory over the National League East contenders.

Manufacturing the winning run without benefit of a hit is the sort of thing the Giants aimed for as the season began, aware that they're mostly bereft of power. Thus, they'll keep encouraging Burriss and fellow rookies such as Eugenio Velez, Ivan Ochoa and Pablo Sandoval to be impetuous.

"It's bit us in the butt a good number of times this year, but you have to stay aggressive," Burriss said. "The second you second guess yourself is when things start to cause problems. We have our ups and downs when it comes to being aggressive and when not to do things. For the most part, it's still a learning process."

"You don't want these guys to back off," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's why it's important we stay behind them. They're going to make mistakes, but they have to continue to play their game."

That's why first-base coach Roberto Kelly, San Francisco's baserunning guru, goaded Burriss in the ninth inning.

"Roberto's in my ear, pretty much telling me I need to be on second base," Burriss said. "I remember on the first pitch I didn't go, he gave me that fatherly 'What are you doing?' look."

That's why Burriss, despite the Atlanta gaffe, didn't hesitate to tag up on Winn's fly, which was hit deep enough to force Marlins left fielder Josh Willingham to move backward.

"When I saw the ball in the air, I figured with him going back, it's going to be a really hard shot for him to regroup and make a good throw to third in time to get me," Burriss said. "It really wasn't a risky play ... I figured the closer I can get to home plate, the better off the team will be."

That's why Burriss and third-base coach Tim Flannery discussed the possibility of a wild pitch when they convened briefly.

"He told me to get a good walking lead and stay on my toes," Burriss said.

The Giants remained on their toes throughout the afternoon. Ochoa, Lewis, Sandoval and Burriss hustled out infield hits. Lewis, center fielder Aaron Rowand and third baseman Ryan Rohlinger made sparkling defensive plays. Lewis and Ochoa made accurate relays to nab Dan Uggla, who ignored his third-base coach's order's to stop, at the plate in the fourth inning.

As is usually the case when the Giants thrive, pitching also was a factor. Shrugging off his Major League debut last Saturday at Atlanta (2 1/3 innings, six runs, seven hits), Matt Palmer left with a 3-2 lead after six innings. The difference, he said, was a regular work week, since he hadn't pitched in seven days when he appeared against the Braves.

Tyler Walker walked two Marlins in the eighth inning but left the bases loaded by striking out Cody Ross. Brian Wilson (2-2) overcame his blown save Wednesday night by pitching a perfect ninth to earn the decision.

Closers are judged after such lapses just as much as they are during their triumphs. But Wilson's ability to rebound was termed "standard issue" by Walker.

"I don't think it says anything about him that we didn't already know. He's resilient," Walker said.

Having won five of their last six series and five or their last seven games, maybe the rest of the Giants share this trait.

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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