SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — Edgar Renteria delivered another big World Series hit that could provide a fitting bookend to his career.
Renteria broke up a scoreless game with a solo homer off C.J. Wilson in the fifth inning and added a two-run single in the eighth Thursday night to help the San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers 9-0 in Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series.
“He knows that he’s almost at the end of his career and he wanted to be in the playoffs,” hitting coach Hensley Meulens said. “Once we got here, he wanted to go to the big dance one more time. There’s no bigger time that we needed him and he’s getting big hits.”
Renteria’s most famous moment came as a 22-year-old with Florida in 1997, when he hit a game-ending single off Charles Nagy with two outs in the 11th inning of Game 7 to give the Marlins a 3-2 win over Cleveland and their first World Series title.
“Everything happened to me great in that game, the hit in ’97,” Renteria said. “Today I was happy. I was proud and I know my family’s proud, too.”
Renteria ended another World Series in less celebratory fashion, hitting a comebacker for the final out in Boston’s World Series sweep of St. Louis in 2004 that gave the Red Sox their first title since 1918.
With Renteria mulling retirement at the end of the season, he did his best to help another franchise move a step closer to ending a long championship drought. The Giants have not won the World Series since moving to San Francisco for the 1958 season.
They need to win two more games to get that elusive title. With the next three games in Texas, the Giants could return home as champions.
“He kept telling us we needed him all the way to the end. He wasn’t lying,” Meulens said. “As a professional and a 15-year veteran in this game, he’s showing what he’s all about. He’s all about business, he’s all about playing in big games. He’s done it before. As a rookie in Florida he got a big hit for them to win. He was in the World Series with the Cardinals and obviously today with that big home run to put us on the board.”
Renteria was an unlikely contributor, considering he started the playoffs on the bench after another rough regular season fill with injuries and lack of production.
But he worked his way back into the lineup and made his biggest contribution with San Francisco on the game’s biggest stage. With Wilson and Matt Cain locked in a scoreless duel, Renteria stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the fifth.
Wilson left an 0-1 pitch up in the zone and Renteria made him pay for the mistake by driving it into the left-field seats. Renteria had gone 53 straight at-bats without a home run since connecting off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Ted Lilly on Sept. 4 and had not homered at AT&T Park since July 27 against Florida’s Brian Sanches.
“Unbelievable. You guys know I have power,” he joked. “He just threw me a fastball in and I just put a good swing on the ball.”
Renteria wasn’t done, hitting a two-run single in a seven-run eighth that extended the lead to 6-0.
Renteria has mostly been a disappointment since signing an $18.5 million, two-year deal with the Giants before last season. He hit just .250 last season and then was limited to 72 games this year because of three stints on the disabled list with a groin, hamstring and biceps injury.
He batted .276 with three homers and 22 RBIs and was somewhat of a forgotten man at the start of the postseason. He did not start in the first five games before getting a chance because of a wrist injury to Juan Uribe and the struggles from Pablo Sandoval.
He singled and scored the Giants first run in a Game 3 win over Philadelphia in the NL championship series, and added a hit and two runs scored in the World Series opener.
Meulens said managing partner Bill Neukom has repeatedly approached Renteria to keep him on track — which Meulens believes lifted Renteria’s spirits.
“Mr. Neukom tells him, ‘We’re not done with you,’” Meulens said. “Mr. Neukom is a big fan or Edgar and every day he tells him.”
Renteria has a lot more fans in San Francisco now.
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