San Francisco Giants: Hunter Pence beats Padres with a walk off in the 11th

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    AT&T Park — Leaning against the back wall of the San Francisco Giants dugout as fans began filling the seats at AT&T Park late Sunday morning, manager Bruce Bochy imagined himself in a different place.

    He anticipated the fishing trip he would take Monday: an adventure out on the ocean where a boat and fishing rod might briefly take his mind away from the NL West playoff race. The Giants are battling to stick around the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers in the division standings long enough for the imminent returns of starters Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to matter.

    Before his day off could erase those thoughts, though, Bochy managed San Francisco’s series-finale against the San Diego Padres. Right fielder Hunter Pence — unlikely to be seen near a quiet fishing expedition — ensured Bochy would enter his break happy with a walk-off two-run single in the 11th inning to seal a comeback 3-2 win.

    With the bases loaded, there was little doubt Pence’s liner down the right field line would be enough to score two runs. The only question is how the struggling outfielder — hitting .196 entering play — would celebrate. He chose to start yelling after rounding first base, before meeting shortstop Brandon Crawford for a bear hug near second.

    The victory pushed the Giants over .500 and helped them maintain pace with the first-place Diamondbacks, who also won Sunday.

    Starter Dereck Rodriguez surrendered a leadoff home run to Manuel Margot but hardly anything after that, finishing with six strikeouts and one run allowed in a career-best seven innings. Rodriguez effectively mixed his four-seam fastball — which ran up to 95 mph– and a slower cutter that featured significant downward movement. Often, hitters chased the fastball above the strike zone before taking the cutter as it dropped in for a strike.

    Center fielder Gorkys Hernandez tied the game with a home run in the sixth inning. He has now hit eight home runs between May and June. Before that, he had nine blasts in 568 career at-bats.

    The Giants had a chance to win it in the 10th after second baseman Joe Panik’s leadoff double down the right field line, but third baseman Alen Hanson struck out, pinch-hitter Austin Slater grounded out and Hernandez struck out to end the frame.

    Reliever Reyes Montoya walked Margot to start the top of the 11th, and Margot advanced to third with one out via a groundout and wild pitch. Left-hander Ty Blach then entered with two outs and gave up a go-ahead RBI single to Padres second baseman Cory Spangenberg.

    In the bottom of the frame, though, Andrew McCutchen hit a double, Buster Posey and Crawford walked, and Pence earned a postgame mobbing after his game- and series-winning knock.

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