LOS ANGELES -- That Wall of Fame honoring 43 Giants legends, scheduled to be dedicated Tuesday, would have to double in size if San Francisco's heroes in Sunday's 1-0, 11-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers were included. That's only a slight exaggeration. Of the 20 players the Giants used, 14 contributed significantly to the triumph that gave San Francisco a 2-1 series victory and erased the stigma of Saturday's ugly 10-7, 11-walk loss. Rich Aurilia lashed the game-winning hit, an RBI single with two outs in the 11th off Takashi Saito. Aaron Rowand, Pablo Sandoval (of course), Brad Hennessey and Eugenio Velez were the inning's other key figures.
Outfielders Randy Winn, Nate Schierholtz and Rowand made outstanding defensive plays. So did catcher Bengie Molina, shortstop Ivan Ochoa and first baseman Travis Ishikawa. "Holy cow. I think everybody got a Gold Glove today, didn't they?" right-hander Matt Cain said. Cain, the prime beneficiary of this defensive windfall, struck out out the final two hitters in the first inning to leave the bases loaded and launch a strong six-inning effort. His three relievers combined for five perfect innings, including Sergio Romo (3-1), who began his three-inning stint by striking out the formidable Manny Ramirez, and Brian Wilson, who recorded his 40th save. Wilson joined Rod Beck and Robb Nen as the only Giants relievers to amass that many in a season. "This was probably our best game of the year," Molina said. "Defense, pitching, everything." The Giants savored this one a little more than most, given their opposition. The outcome froze the archrival Dodgers' magic number for clinching the National League West at five and trimmed their lead over second-place Arizona to 2 1/2 games. "Any time you play these guys and we're out of it, we want to ruin somebody else's celebration," Aurilia said. "There's no other team we'd rather beat," Schierholtz said. "I'd be lying to you if I said guys in here don't want to play the spoiler [role]," Rowand said. So it remains possible that the Dodgers still will be seeking a division-clinching victory as they enter next weekend's three-game rematch against the Giants at AT&T Park. The Giants exchanged boxing gloves for fielder's gloves to fight for victory No. 70. For half the game, they turned in at least one gem in almost every inning. Ochoa's grab set the tone, as he made a leaping catch of James Loney's liner with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first inning. Schierholtz extended himself fully to snare Loney's drive near the right-field line to end the third inning with a runner on first. Ishikawa made a diving stop on Blake DeWitt's grounder to end the fourth inning. Rowand uncorked perhaps his best throw of the year, a one-hop fastball from center field, to retire Angel Berroa at home plate on Andre Ethier's one-out single in the fifth inning. "That was the biggest thing that turned it around," Cain said. Molina collaborated with Rowand by making a deft tag on the sideways-sliding Berroa. "I just put my glove right on top of the plate and he hit it," Molina said. With the bases full, the luckless Loney concluded the fifth by lining to left field, where a diving Winn snared the ball. Schierholtz made another sliding play, this time on Berroa, to finish the sixth. "I got good breaks today and felt comfortable," Schierholtz said. Hitting wasn't a comfortable task as the shadows lengthened at Dodger Stadium. "It was dark from the mound to the plate and sunny everywhere else," Aurilia said of the glare during extra innings. "You do what you can in that situation." That explained the Giants' strategy during their winning rally. Rowand singled with one out in the 11th off Takashi Saito (4-4), but was forced at second base on a pinch-hit grounder by Sandoval, who hustled up the first-base line to beat the double play despite his sore left quadriceps. Short on position players, Giants manager Bruce Bochy summoned Hennessey, a converted infielder, to run for Sandoval. Hennessey stole second without drawing a throw on an 0-2 pitch to Velez. "At that point, we're going to gamble," Bochy said. Hennessey joked that he wanted to channel Rickey Henderson. "I definitely wanted to pick the base up," he said. One pitch later, Velez beat out a slow roller to shortstop, which would have been a force play at second without Hennessey's thievery. Up came Aurilia, who connected with Saito's 2-2 slider to deliver Hennessey. It was a sweet moment for the 13-year veteran, who's eligible for free agency after this season. "I don't know what next year holds for me, as far as [playing for] the Giants, but if that's how I can go out in my last game against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, getting a hit like that, that's pretty cool," Aurilia said. All that remained was for Wilson, making his first appearance since last Sunday, to set down the Dodgers. That he did, striking out Ramirez on a 98-mph fastball and whiffing Casey Blake on a 100-mph heater for the final out. "If you look at the silver linings on this season, he's one of them," Bochy said of Wilson. So was this ballgame.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.