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Veterans help send Giants off winners

Veterans help send Giants off winners

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two games remain for the Giants, but a few of them might have wanted to end the season with this one.

The Giants' 6-5, 10-inning triumph Friday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers included contributions from veterans who have slipped into subordinate roles and might not be back in 2009.

With two outs and the score tied, 5-5, in the 10th, Omar Vizquel prolonged the inning by doubling past first base off Jason Johnson (1-2), the Dodgers' seventh reliever. This was the same Vizquel who earlier this season set the Major League record for most games played by a shortstop but, saddled with a .218 batting average at age 41, is unlikely to return to the Giants.

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Up came Dave Roberts, the 36-year-old who ranks toward the bottom of the Giants' outfield depth chart -- but still knows how to swing a bat. Roberts sharply grounded a 1-1 pitch past second base into right field, scoring Vizquel easily.

It was the Giants' 71st victory of the season, matching their 2007 total.

"Obviously, I don't get those opportunities on a night-in and night-out basis, but for me to be able to contribute in any way possible, it's pretty satisfying, for sure," Roberts said.

The decision went to Tyler Walker (5-8), who pitched a scoreless 10th. Walker's performance has fluctuated during a season in which he has recorded a 4.58 ERA, prompting speculation that the Giants won't tender him a contract this offseason. But if this was Walker's final home performance at AT&T Park, beating the Dodgers was a fitting exit for the San Francisco native who grew up rooting for the Giants.

Earlier, the game was filled with reversals, and not just on the scoreboard.

It featured the first use of instant replay to review a home run call at AT&T Park, and only the seventh overall, since the option was instituted last month. With one out in the sixth inning, Los Angeles leading, 2-0, and Pablo Sandoval on first base, Bengie Molina hit an apparent single off the top of the right-field wall. But after Giants manager Bruce Bochy questioned the ruling, the umpiring crew ruled it a home run, tying the score.

But Bochy played the rest of the game under protest. He had replaced Molina, then standing on first base, with Emmanuel Burriss. Once the umpires returned with their ruling, Bochy wanted to re-insert Molina. He couldn't, so he used his protest card.

"I'm hoping they have the Manny Burriss rule now," Burriss said, although he added that he wasn't sure how the rule would be written. "I can get in the history books. It's one of those things that you can look back on and laugh because we won."

Said Roberts of the entire scene, "It was like a 'Twilight Zone' kind of thing."

Despite his protest, Bochy said that the experience reinforced his belief in instant replay.

"This really shows how vital this can be," Bochy said. "It won the game for us."

It almost didn't work out that way.

The Giants forged ahead, 4-2, with a pair of seventh-inning runs. Roberts walked to open the inning off Chan Ho Park, advanced to second base on Randy Winn's deep flyout, reached third on Eugenio Velez's single and came home as Sandoval, facing left-hander Joe Beimel, singled to left field. It was a triumph for the switch-hitting Sandoval, who entered the game batting only .216 right-handed. Beimel walked Steve Holm to load the bases before Rich Aurilia's sacrifice fly scored Velez.

Los Angeles rebounded with three runs in the top of the ninth. Brian Wilson, who took his sixth blown save in 46 chances, surrendered James Loney's leadoff home run. Pinch-hitter Nomar Garciaparra singled one out later. Wilson struck out Matt Kemp on a full-count pitch, but Russell Martin, who also was pinch-hitting, launched a 2-2 delivery over the left-field barrier.

The Giants still managed to force extra innings. Winn christened the Giants' ninth by singling off Jonathan Broxton, who blew his third save in 17 opportunities. Velez's grounder forced out Winn at second base. But Velez reached third by stealing second and advancing on Martin's accompanying throwing error. After Scott McClain coaxed a walk in a riveting 12-pitch at-bat, Holm lifted a sacrifice fly to score Velez.

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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