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Giants come back in ninth again, beat Cardinals

It took 730 days for the Giants to come back in the ninth inning. It took nine days for them to do it again.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Single. Single. Double.

That’s how the Giants turned a ninth-inning deficit into a ninth-inning lead. Brandon Belt got a single. Brandon Crawford got a single. Eduardo Nuñez got a double. The Giants were down by one, and there were two singles and a double. That’s how they won by a run. There were two runs scored on those three hits.

To clarify: The first single put a runner on first base. The second single moved that runner to third while also putting an additional runner on first. The double scored both of those runners.

By getting three hits in close proximity in the ninth inning, the Giants were able to win.

If this mock incredulity is annoying you, I apologize. Except it’s not all mock incredulity. The Giants were in a similar position nine days ago, when they came back against the Mets, and my obsession with the lack of ninth-inning comebacks had to do with the unlikelihood. It was amazing that they were absolutely incapable of getting a single-single-double when they were down by a run in the ninth. It was like a broken slot machine. You know the odds aren’t good to get cherry-cherry-7, but to pump quarters in it for two years and not have it happen once seems fishy.

Then, after 730 days of not coming back, the Giants came back. Nine days later, they did it again.

I’m okay with this.

If there’s a difference with this one, it’s that this ninth-inning comeback was a whole lot cleaner. Nine days ago, the Mets biffed a sure double play, and it turned out that the closer who blew the save had a blood clot in his shoulder. That’s not to suggest that it wasn’t fun to watch that comeback. It’s just that this one didn’t make me dig out my Charlie Brown valentine analogy. It was a classic comeback. Belt roped his single against Seung-hwan Oh. Crawford hit his single well to the opposite field. Nuñez drove his double. It was a nice, clean sequence of offensive fortitude against the pitcher the other team had chosen to protect a one-run lead.

It was the kind of things teams do more than once every two years. I can tell because the Giants have done it twice in the last two weeks. And if it goes double-single-single, maybe they don’t win. That’s how it’s happened for the last two years, at least.

It wasn’t just the single-single-double, though. The Giants scored six runs, which means there are several gold stars to hand out. In no particular order:

Matt Moore threw six innings and allowed two runs. He also walked two unintentionally and allowed two triples. It was an imperfect start. It was a better start than the average start by a major league pitcher. It was ... a quality start.

Scoff at the stat if you’d like, but you kind of understand it in this situation. It’s the kind of start that can force a team to come back. It’s the kind of start that keeps a team in the game. It exists in both realities, flitting between potential outcomes. Schrödinger’s cat was a quality experiment, in other words. Moore pitched just fine.

Bryan Morris pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and I missed it because I was busy cribbing notes about the eventual loss. Remember, the Giants clambered back into the game on a booted double play and a fielder’s choice, there was a rain delay, and within five minutes, the Giants had a) blown a bases-loaded opportunity and b) allowed a three-run homer. It happened so fast, it was more like a subliminal message that convinced you the Cardinals had gone ahead, really.

Anyway, after that, Morris came in and had a cool, calm inning. I respect that.

Denard Span got an eighth-inning hit that got the Giants a run closer. I rolled my eyes at the time, too, because getting just close enough to disappoint has been a theme for the last 11 months. But the comeback doesn’t happen without Span, who has been a revelation since coming off the DL.

Brandon Crawford had three hits, and he made a couple sweet turns on double plays. He also made a nifty snag on a Yadier Molina grounder, and while he didn’t yell out, “I HAVE YOUR GOLD GLOVES NOW, GRANDPA,” it’s the way he didn’t yell it that makes it seem like he did.

Brandon Belt had three hits and a walk. But is he actually good? We’ll discuss that in an 18,000-word feature scheduled for Monday.

Michael Morse had a key pinch hit in the eighth inning.

This one was on the road, though.

Eduardo Nuñez is the reason for the revelry, however. He looked phenomenally shaky in left field all game, to the point where I was going to rail against the outfield experiment in this very space. It still seems self-defeating, with the risks outweighing the rewards. But give me a couple more two-hit nights, and I’ll reconsider. It’s worth pointing out that one of his outs was a laser into center field, too.

Christian Arroyo had two hits. Mac Williamson scored a run. Buster Posey walked twice. Every starter on the Giants reached base at least once, which is probably a record, don’t look it up.

It was a complete game that ended with a comeback win. I’m not sure on the math, but if it takes 730 days for one ninth-inning comeback and nine for the next one, does that mean the next one happens tomorrow night or on Sunday? Send that in to Ask Marilyn and get back to me.

Man, I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure I’ve never done that.

Before the night started, the Giants and Rockies were the only teams in baseball without a three-run homer. Than Alexi Amarista hit a three-run homer for the Rockies, even though he probably doesn’t even play for them, I haven’t checked. Now the Giants are the only team in baseball without a three-run homer this year.

The Cardinals took the lead on a three-run homer. You can see my frustration.

Anyway, this is a fine consolation prize, but I figured I’d point it out.

And to think, I was committed to Travis Ishikawa/Michael Wacha references for the recap. That’s when Eduardo Nuñez rediscovered the thunder in his bat. It was probably under the couch the whole time.