Giants 8, Athletics 7, 10 innings
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Barry Zito went to the mound in the fourth inning with great stuff and a six-run lead. A few minutes later, the game was tied—and the real excitement in a crazy chapter of the Bay Bridge Series was just beginning.
Zito arrived at the park expecting a duel with Kirk Rueter, but San Francisco’s top left-hander allowed five runs before Zito even threw a pitch.
The AL Cy Young winner was cruising until the fourth, when Bonds’ 635th homer onto the short porch in right field began a series of seven straight hits for the Giants.
“I was scratching my head, wondering what I had to do,” Zito said. “I’m kind of baffled. Except for that crazy fourth inning, I felt good. It’s pretty unreal.”
While the starting pitchers’ struggles in a game featuring 30 hits were a big surprise, Feliz’s clutch hit against Oakland definitely wasn’t shocking. The third baseman is 8-for-18 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last four games against the A’s.
As Benito Santiago walked past Feliz at his locker following the game, the veteran catcher shouted: “A’s killer!”
“I don’t know how to explain it, the way I’m hitting against the A’s, but it was a big game for everyone, not just me,” Feliz said. “That was one of the best rallies we’ve had. You’ve just got to keep playing hard, all nine innings.”
In this case, 10.
Neifi Perez tied it with an RBI single in the eighth and scored on Feliz’s hit as the Giants won their second straight and took a 3-2 lead in the interleague rivalry series, which concludes Sunday at Pacific Bell Park.
Perez led off the 10th with a single against Keith Foulke (4-1). Grissom also singled, and Foulke hit Bonds with a pitch to load the bases.
Feliz looped Foulke’s next pitch into center field, easily scoring Perez as the Giants’ dugout emptied onto the field in celebration.
“Everybody surprised us today,” Perez said. “We got something different from everybody. We didn’t worry when we were down. We still had every chance in the world.”
Adam Piatt had a three-run double and a homer in a discouraging loss for the A’s, who wasted a chance to improve their dismal road record (17-23).
“It’s not like we feel that much more comfortable at home,” said Piatt, a struggling reserve outfielder who’s been harshly criticized by manager Ken Macha in recent weeks. “It’s weird. They did a good job. They got a lot of clutch hits.”
Six of the A’s first seven hitters reached base in the first, and Piatt cleared the bases with a double into the right-center gap. In his shortest start of the season, Rueter needed 37 pitches to get out of the inning, and he was worn out by the fourth after allowing eight hits and six runs.
“With Zito throwing and a six-run lead for them, you’re down in the dumps,” Rueter said. “We just strung together a bunch of singles. You don’t see that very much.”
Zito allowed a season-high 10 hits—and his six earned runs were one short of his career worst. Still, he was sharp except for the awful fourth inning, when Bonds tied Willie Mays for second place on the San Francisco career list with his 459th homer.
Bonds’ leadoff homer wasn’t exactly an awe-inspiring drive by baseball’s active home run leader—but with a stiff wind blowing out to the right-field arcade just 309 feet from home plate, the fly ball barely landed in the crowd.
The Giants’ next six batters singled. Grissom drove in Edgardo Alfonzo with the tying run as San Francisco sent 11 batters to the plate.
“Usually, you give up six runs, and you can throw it away,” Zito said. “But this was different. It was kind of a weird day. I don’t feel like I gave up six runs. I don’t feel like I got hit hard. I blew it on paper, but I made my pitches.”
Zito has just one victory in his last eight starts while struggling with bad innings and bad luck despite a low ERA. He still left with a chance to win after Piatt led off the sixth with a solo homer, giving Oakland a 7-6 lead.
But Santiago led off the eighth with a pinch-hit single against RicardoRincon, advancing on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on Perez’s hit.
Giants LHP Scott Eyre had another strong relief appearance, striking out five in two perfect innings. … Both center fielders lost fly balls in the sun. … Alfonzo, benched a day earlier by Giants manager Felipe Alou, got a bases-loaded single as a pinch-hitter for Rueter in the fourth—snapping an 0-for-14 skid. … Willie McCovey hit 469 homers with San Francisco. … Byrneshas an 11-game hitting streak.