SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — Freddy Sanchez singled home the winning run off Felipe Paulino in the ninth inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on a Friday night when San Francisco celebrated Willie Mays’ 80th birthday.
Sanchez’s line drive up the middle against Paulino (0-2) sent the Giants pouring out of the dugout and delighted a roaring crowd that came to toast Mays on a chilly, breezy night along San Francisco Bay.
Cody Ross led off the ninth with a double down the right-field line. Paulino struck out Aaron Rowand before Sanchez capped San Francisco’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Nate Schierholtz tied it with a two-run double in the eighth.
Brian Wilson (1-1) pitched the ninth for the win.
The Giants put the exclamation point on a night dedicated to their most famous star.
They honored Mays before the game with a video tribute that included everyone from Hank Aaron to former President Bill Clinton and singer Tony Bennett. A congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama also was read and several of the Hall of Famer’s former teammates were alongside him in the infield for the celebration.
Colorado nearly crashed the party.
Troy Tulowitzki started things off for the Rockies with his 100th career home run in the second inning, a solo shot off Matt Cain. Jonathan Herrera had an RBI single and Carlos Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly in the third to give Colorado a 3-0 lead.
That appeared to be enough, with Ubaldo Jimenez back to throwing a wicked breaking ball that was at times dominant. Yet he was still puzzling at other times, walking five, and departed after throwing 118 pitches in six innings.
Jimenez, whose only run allowed came on a sacrifice fly by Boster Posey in the sixth, has been searching for his command after spending time on the disabled list with a cracked cuticle on his pitching thumb. And while his performance offered a glimmer of hope for the Rockies, the inconsistency was a reminder he still isn’t back to his form from a year ago—when he was 15-1 by the time he took the mound as the National League starter for the All-Star game.
Jimenez was in line for his first win of the season until the bullpen blew another chance.
Posey singled and Pat Burell later doubled with two outs off reliever Rafael Betancourt in the eighth. Schierholtz knocked a double down the line past diving third baseman Ian Stewart that tied it 3-all, giving the Giants a chance to deliver a win on a night that was special for so many other reasons.
NOTES: The Rockies are planning to start RHP Clayton Mortensen on Saturday in place of Esmil Rogers, manager Jim Tracy said. Rogers is dealing with lateral discomfort and could miss more than one start. The team will announce a move before Saturday’s game to clear space for Mortensen. … Giants LHP Barry Zito (sprained right foot) threw on flat ground from about 60 feet. He will be evaluated by a doctor Saturday. … Giants CF Andres Torres (strained left Achilles’ tendon) will remain on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Fresno through Sunday. … Giants reliever Santiago Casilla threw a bullpen session and will likely face hitters in a simulated game Sunday. … Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval (broken bone in right wrist) said he will have his hard cast removed next week and replaced with a removable cast. He is optimistic he will be back in the lineup on schedule within six weeks.
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