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Kapler credits 'fighters' on Giants for pulling out 105th win

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Giants celebrate

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are three games away from focusing on the playoffs, but for all intents and purposes, they've been playing postseason baseball for several weeks now. 

When they reached 100 wins last Friday, shortstop Brandon Crawford said they might as well run the table and get to 108. They won't quite need that many, but they'll need to come close with the Dodgers winning every night of the way on their own end.

It was with that knowledge that the Giants on Thursday watched their starter, Scott Kazmir, depart with a hamstring strain after one out. They trailed 3-0 before they even took an at-bat, but once again, it didn't matter. LaMonte Wade Jr.'s walk-off single to right capped the comeback in the ninth, giving the Giants a 5-4 win, their 105th of the year. 

A few minutes later, manager Gabe Kapler sat down in front of a Zoom camera, smiled, and admitted, "We definitely didn't want it to go this way." Kapler needed 8 2/3 innings from his bullpen, but as usual the group was up for it. That allowed the offense to chip away until Wade came up with the bases loaded in the ninth.

"We've talked all year about using the 'resilient' word to describe this team, but that's precisely how I would describe them in this game," Kapler said. "They were just fighters and tough enough to climb back in and ultimately get a big hit at the end there with LaMonte. We've come to expect that from him."

 

Like so many of the previous 104, this one had a boatload of contributors. Kapler credited Curt Casali for drawing a tough walk to set up Wade, who got his sixth game-tying or go-ahead hit of the season. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs against friend and longtime teammate Madison Bumgarner.

Johnny Cueto made his first career relief appearance and provided a needed bridge to Zack Littell, who had his sharpest performance in weeks. Tyler Rogers was the sixth Giants reliever to take the ball, and with the bullpen running out of fresh arms, he worked two shutout innings. 

Perhaps the biggest contribution, though, came right after the wheels started to fly off in the first. Austin Slater singled off Bumgarner to lead off the Giants' half, and Darin Ruf, in his first at-bat off the IL, hit a double off the wall. The Giants never lack belief, but sometimes it helps to get a reminder that your night can turn out just fine. 

"That really set the tone," Rogers said. "Like, 'Hey, we're coming back. Three runs isn't a big deal. Let's get after them.' And I think we kind of felt that in the bullpen."

As the Giants were clawing back into the game and edging the Diamondbacks for the 17th time this season, the Dodgers easily dispatched of the Padres, who come to Oracle Park next. The Giants can wrap up the NL West title by taking two out of three, as they did last week at Petco Park. For the first time in a while, they might get some help, too. The Dodgers will host the NL Central-champion Milwaukee Brewers.

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After 159 games, the Giants are on the verge of what would be a stunning NL West title. That would make them the top seed in the postseason, but they're not ready to think about that yet.

"As best as you can, you're trying to compartmentalize," Posey said. "You focus on the day and then even more so, pitch to pitch. Everybody is obviously watching what's going on over there (in Los Angeles). Ultimately, though, all we can control is what we do each day."

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