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Injured Giants lose in 11-inning fight with Braves, but look spunkier than ever

Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez started out a bit wobbly in the first inning but picked up steam in the second inning, putting the Braves' hitters away in order.
Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez started out a bit wobbly in the first inning but picked up steam in the second inning, putting the Braves' hitters away in order.
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Things looked grim for the San Francisco Giants before last night's game with the Atlanta Braves.

ATLANTA - AUGUST 16: Orlando Cabrera #43 of the San Francisco Giants turns a 10th inning double play against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 16, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Carlos Beltran and Sergio Romo had just been placed on the 15-day disabled list; Nate Schierholtz and Jeff Keppinger were off having potential fractures assessed; Brian Wilson's back was acting up again; Pablo Sandoval's sore foot was bugging him; and Giants manager Bruce Bochy was more than a little worried about starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez's ability to make it farther than five innings into the game.

It seemed almost like a cosmic joke when, after pitching a few pretty solid innings, Jonathan Sanchez sprained his left ankle while trying to grab a bobbled bunt and exited in the third, limping. Another Giant down.

Far from acting like a battered bunch of losers, however, the Giants put up a hell of a fight.

Because of the roster shortages, practically every guy in the outfield and on the bases was a playing position they are largely unfamiliar with. Yet, you wouldn't have guessed it from the way they acted. Aubrey Huff, who hasn't been out yonder in Left Field Land since April (?!) made a spectacular running, at-the-wall catch to keep the game from expiring in the bottom of the ninth inning. Brandon Belt is hardly a regular right fielder, but he and the suddenly first-baseman Mark DeRosa put a nasty little surprise out on Freddie Freeman, followed smartly by an Orlando Cabrera-initiated double play that pushed the game on into the 11th inning.

Those guys weren't the only fighters. Chris Stewart demonstrated, yet again, his extraordinary ability to snag would-be base stealers at second as he threw out an astonished Michael Bourn. Guillermo Mota unexpectedly inherited the game in the third inning but held the damage to only one run. After that, Mr. Mota, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, and Javier Lopez prevented the Braves from scoring for six innings. And Cody Ross kept it all from ending early with a soaring home run in the seventh.

O.K., yes -- the Giants did lose in the bottom of the 11th. And, yes -- it's going to be damn near impossible for the Giants to get back to winning regularly if they consistently fail to turn their hits into runs.

But after a day, a week, a month, a season like this one, who'd have thought they'd still have such deep reserves of Pure Spunk to call on in this Hour of Need? (Well, I know one person who thought so.)

If they play like this injured, freefalling in the standings, and smirked at by all the teams they defeated last year, what will they be capable of when they've recovered?

"They fought hard, man," Bruce Bochy said of the team last night. "They were into it and they were trying to do all they can...You saw some great stuff out there....These guys have a way of picking each other up, and I think they'll do it. They don't dwell on what they don't have. These guys will go out and fight."

Tonight, the Giants will fight on, with Matt Cain facing Atlanta Braves' pitcher Jair Jurrjens.

Watch the game on CSN Bay Area at 4:10 pm or listen on KNBR 680.


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