PHILADELPHIA -- In a game that featured six home runs, including solo shots by both starting pitchers, Gregor Blanco's drag bunt proved to be the loudest hit of all.
Blanco bunted in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of a 6-5 Giants victory Saturday over the Philadelphia Phillies, atoning for an earlier failure on a squeeze attempt. The surprise play brought a strategic end to a day that was largely about shows of strength.
"That's why baseball is fun," Blanco said with a smile. "We did it with the bunt today, and tomorrow we can do it with our pitching or with more homers. That's why we're playing so (well) this year."
The first-place Giants (53-41) improved to a season high 12 games above .500 and are 4-1 on a trip through Atlanta and Philadelphia. They did so with their ace, Matt Cain, on the Citizens Bank Park mound, but Cain's day hardly went according to plan.
A pitchers' duel between Cain and fellow All-Star Cole Hamels instead turned into a slugfest. Even the pitchers got into the act, hitting solo homers off each other in the third inning. Cain's sixth career shot, followed by a two-run blast from Buster Posey, put the Giants up 3-1. But Hamels immediately answered with a blast to right, his first career homer. Cain and Hamels became the first set of opposing starting pitchers to homer in the same inning since 1990.
"I was thinking he was probably going to try to do the same thing," Cain said. "You give up a homer
"I just made some pitches a little too much over the sweet spot of the plate."
One of them, a fastball to Ryan Howard, ended up screaming out to the right-field seats in the sixth inning. The three-run shot put the Phillies ahead 5-4.
But the Giants tied it in the eighth when Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer to left. It was the 10th homer of the season for Cabrera, who has combined with Posey to go 20 for 41 on the trip, with 13 RBIs and 11 runs.
"It's fun to watch," Blanco said. "They're making everybody follow them."
Blanco tried to join the production parade in the eighth, but he missed a squeeze sign with Posey on third. Posey was hung out to dry and was tagged out in a rundown.
"A sense of dismay is a good way to put it, I guess," Posey said. "I know Blanco feels worse about it than anybody, and I'm sure it won't happen again."
Blanco took full responsibility for the play and apologized to manager Bruce Bochy. What Blanco got in return was the green light to try the bunt again if given the right opportunity.
That chance came in the 10th, when Cabrera led off with a walk and went to third on Posey's fourth hit of the game. Blanco had been thinking about bunts to the first-base side even before the eighth inning; he said he noticed Friday night that Howard and Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, both of whom spent much of the first half on the disabled list, weren't moving well.
With the speedy Cabrera on third and a 3-1 count, Blanco put a perfect bunt down the first-base line.
"I had said to myself, 'You're going to get another opportunity to win this game,' " said Blanco, who didn't start but entered when Angel Pagan was ejected in the sixth.
Blanco put the Giants in position, but with struggling closer Santiago Casilla waiting in the wings, they were far from out of the woods. Casilla had blown five of his previous eight save opportunities, but he set down the Phillies quietly to pick up his 24th save.
Coaches have pulled Casilla aside in recent days to encourage him to use all his pitches, rather than just rely on his fastball. He said he has learned his lesson.
"You make mistakes (as a closer) and you have to pay -- and I paid," Casilla said. "For me, I feel good right now. Bochy believes in me."
Bochy's belief had wavered in the late innings. He was ready to let Sergio Romo attempt a five-out save, but Romo's spot came up with the bases loaded in the 10th inning, and Bochy didn't want a reliever with two knee braces swinging a bat.
Instead the save situation was left for Casilla, and he made the most of it.
"He regrouped and made some great pitches, and that should raise his confidence quite a bit," Bochy said. "This should be big for him."
Bochy is hoping the win is big for the whole team. The Giants have won seven of eight since the All-Star break and have just one more game in Philadelphia before a 10-game run at AT&T Park, where they are 29-16.
"These are character-building games," Bochy said. "We blew a pretty good opportunity there, but you keep fighting.
"That's what we did."