SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have five key players on the disabled list, including a leadoff hitter, Angel Pagan, who seems headed for surgery. Until they're at full strength, manager Bruce Bochy has said, contributions will have to come from all corners of the clubhouse.
Gregor Blanco, Hector Sanchez and Sandy Rosario were among those who stepped up Saturday, carrying the Giants to a 2-1 extra-innings win over the Miami Marlins that was sorely needed. The Giants had lost nine straight to the Marlins at AT&T Park before Sanchez brought home Blanco with a bases-loaded, pinch-hit single in the 11th inning.
"It's one of those exhausting games, a much-needed win for the guys," Bochy said. "They wanted it. It's good for these guys because they've been fighting."
For a year and two months, the Giants often had Pagan throwing the first punch. But the center fielder has a small tear in a tendon attached to his left hamstring and would miss six to eight weeks if he opts for surgery. Blanco has taken over the leadoff spot in Pagan's absence and has a .365 on-base percentage since May 25, the day Pagan played his last game.
"He's doing a great job," Bochy said. "He's a gifted defender and really, really has gotten his confidence at the plate. He brings so much energy to the club, and that's what you love about him."
Blanco had three hits, including a strange double in the fifth inning that tied the game. With Barry Zito on first and two outs, Blanco hit a drive to deep right field that bounced off the warning track and was grabbed by a fan sitting in the arcade section. Zito was rounding third when the ball disappeared and was awarded home plate despite the objections of Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who was ejected after arguing that Zito should have been placed on third.
Bochy had his own argument, saying Zito would have scored easily and Blanco, who was put on second base, had a shot at an inside-the-park homer.
"I was going for four, for sure," said Blanco, who has multiple hits in six of his last 10 games. "I feel like I know what I'm capable of doing. I can do good things on offense. A lot of people talk about my defense and speed and baserunning, but I want people to talk about my offense. I know I can do some damage."
The Giants did little damage after Blanco's double, going hitless in their next 15 at-bats. But Zito and the bullpen kept the Giants in the game.
Pitching just three days after the death of his father, Zito gave up one run over seven innings to lower his ERA at AT&T Park to 1.98.
"I just tried to minimize distractions," he said. "Some things are a little heavier than others. Today, I was able to go out there and stay focused and give this team a chance to win."
Having lost three of the first five games of this homestand, Bochy managed with a sense of urgency after Zito was pulled. Sergio Romo made just his second eighth-inning appearance of the season and got five outs to get the Giants into the 10th inning. The Marlins put two runners on with one out in the 10th, but Rosario entered and struck out Justin Ruggiano and Ed Lucas. They put two more runners on in the 11th, but Hunter Pence made a diving catch of Placido Polanco's two-out sinking liner to right.
"You know what's on the line there," Pence said. "(Polanco) is really good at hitting those soft line drives. He's made a living of doing that. Fortunately, I was able to get there."
The catch sealed Rosario's fourth straight outing of at least 12/3 innings. The veteran has found a niche in the struggling Giants bullpen, giving up just one run on four hits while throwing 82/3 innings in his last four appearances, with 11 strikeouts.
"What a gutty effort by Romo and Rosario," Bochy said. "They gave us a chance."
Blanco took advantage, reaching on an infield single to lead off the 11th and getting to third on a bunt and another infield single. Sanchez, recently called up from Triple-A Fresno, ended the long day with a soft liner to left, the third walk-off hit of his career.
The walk-off win was the eighth of the year for the Giants, who got the winning hit from their backup catcher and the winning run from a player who started the year in a platoon. The winning pitcher was Rosario, who was traded once and waived three times in the offseason.
"It takes all of us, it takes everything," Pence said. "We found a way to get it done today."
"I'll make sure I'm 100 percent," he said. "It's a tough injury. It doesn't happen often. It's a very annoying injury because every time you move you feel it."
Miami (Nathan Eovaldi 0-0) at Giants (Matt Cain 5-3), 1:05 p.m. CSNBA