Final

Playoff Series: Game 3 of 4

San Francisco won 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 7
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San Francisco1
Game 2: Friday, October 8
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in 11
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Game 3: Sunday, October 10
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Game 4: Monday, October 11
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Giants 3

 

Braves 2

 

4:37 PM ET, October 10, 2010

Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

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W: S. Romo (1-0)

L: C. Kimbrel (0-1)

S: B. Wilson (1)

Giants rally past Braves thanks to third fielding error by Atlanta 2B Brooks Conrad

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Brooks Conrad stood near second base, all alone. He didn't dare go near Braves manager Bobby Cox, standing on the mound making a pitching change. Finally, teammate Derrek Lee wandered over, giving Conrad a pat on the back.

Nothing helped. All Conrad could do was bend over in anguish.

"I wish I could just dig a hole," he said, "and sleep in it."

The Braves were within one out of taking control of the NL Division Series, but a 30-year-old journeyman infielder who wouldn't have been playing if not for season-ending injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado simply couldn't catch the ball Sunday.

Conrad made three errors, the last of them on a two-out grounder in the ninth inning that gave the San Francisco Giants a 3-2 victory over Atlanta.

"It was completely embarrassing," said Conrad, who has made eight errors in the last seven games going back to the regular season. "Once again, I feel like I let everyone down."

He bobbled a grounder in the first, but that one didn't hurt. He dropped a popup the next inning, allowing an unearned run to score. Finally, Buster Posey's hard grounder skidded under Conrad's glove, bringing home the run that capped San Francisco's two-run ninth.

"I thought he would make the play," Posey said. "I wouldn't wish that on anybody."

Brian Wilson shut down the Braves in the ninth to give the Giants a 2-1 lead in a tense best-of-five series in which all three games have been decided by one run.

San Francisco can close it out Monday night. For Conrad, the memories of this one will linger for a lifetime. He tied a postseason record for errors in a game and became the fourth second baseman to make three, according to STATS LLC.

Those blunders might just speed up the retirement of Cox, whose long managing career ends as soon as Atlanta's season is done.

"We had this one won," Cox said. "We can win games and we can compete against anybody. But we can't afford to make mistakes."

Atlanta did nothing against Jonathan Sanchez, managing only two hits in 7 1/3 innings and trailing 1-0. But when pinch-hitter Eric Hinske lined a two-run homer off Sergio Romo in the eighth, the Braves suddenly had the lead.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, there was no Billy Wagner to close it out. He was removed from the roster before the game with a pulled muscle on his left side.

Rookie reliever Craig Kimbrel was within one out of a save before the Giants rallied. Aubrey Huff tied it with a run-scoring single off Mike Dunn. Then, Posey hit a grounder to just the right man.

"I've never experienced that range of emotions on a baseball field," Atlanta outfielder Matt Diaz said.

The wild finish overshadowed Sanchez's brilliant performance -- he didn't allow a hit until the sixth -- and Hinske's dramatic homer, which carried the Braves to within one strike of having a chance to close out the series at Turner Field.

The gaffes by Conrad cost them.

He was one of the last guys to make the Braves roster out of spring training and spent his first full year in the majors. Conrad was primarily a backup, though he did provide one of the season's most dramatic moments with a pinch-hit grand slam that capped a seven-run ninth inning and a 10-9 victory over Cincinnati in May.

Then Jones hurt his knee, and an injury finished off Prado for the season, too. Down the stretch, the Braves were forced to go with Conrad at third base.

His defense was so shaky that Cox swapped him with Omar Infante before the crucial last game of the regular season with the Braves trying to wrap up the wild card, moving Conrad to second because he was having trouble making accurate throws from third.

His arm wasn't the problem in Game 3.

Freddy Sanchez provided a key hit for the Giants, smacking a two-strike single to center to keep them alive in the ninth. Kimbrel was replaced by Dunn, another rookie, who threw a slider that Huff yanked into right field to bring home Travis Ishikawa.

Peter Moylan took over for Dunn and got what he's known for: a ground ball from Posey. It went right through Conrad.

Sanchez and Atlanta starter Tim Hudson had quite a pitchers' duel. The lone run off Hudson came after Mike Fontenot led off the second with a triple to right. Jason Heyward raced back to the wall and had the ball in his glove, but it popped out when he slammed hard into the padding.

Cody Ross followed with a popup into short right. Heyward might have made an attempt on it, but he got a late break and wasn't charging that hard, perhaps still a bit groggy from his collision with the wall. But Conrad, looking back into the setting sun and running hard, got there in time to make the catch -- only to have the ball pop out of his glove.

Fontenot, who wasn't tagging, raced in with the first run while Conrad fumbled for the ball.

Sanchez was nearly as dominant as Tim Lincecum in a two-hit, 14-strikeout performance that carried San Francisco to a 1-0 victory in the series opener. The left-hander baffled the Braves with a slider, striking out 11 and holding them hitless until Hudson, of all people, singled to right in the sixth.

Nothing came of that.

Then, after Alex Gonzalez started the eighth with a single and Conrad -- in yet another blunder -- popped up a bunt, Hinske connected.

It was in the eighth when Giants manager Bruce Bochy appeared to make another ill-fated call to a bullpen that coughed up a 4-1 lead in Game 2 at San Francisco. The Braves rallied to tie that one, then won it 5-4 on Rick Ankiel's 11th-inning homer into McCovey Cove.

This time, it was Hinske who delivered. He fought back from an 0-2 count before hitting a line drive into the right-field corner that sent the standing-room crowd of 53,284 into a frenzy.

The next inning, there was nothing but stunned silence except for those who mustered the energy to boo Conrad.

Cox is known for defending his players more than perhaps any other manager, but even he might be forced to make a change at second base. The only other middle infielder on the roster is little-used rookie Diory Hernandez.

"I'll have to sleep on it," was all Cox would say when asked if Conrad would stay in the lineup.

Bochy made no apologies for the way his team pulled it out.

"To come back like that after a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, I mean, that can take the wind out of your sails," he said. "And these guys came right back and found a way to get it done. That is a great win."

Game notes


President Jimmy Carter and former Braves owner Ted Turner attended the game, wearing Atlanta caps. ... Conrad was the first player in franchise history to make three errors in a postseason game. In an interesting twist, the previous player to do it was former Atlanta shortstop Rafael Furcal with the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2008 NLCS.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Game Information

StadiumTurner Field, Atlanta, GA
Attendance53,284 (107.9% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
Game Time3:23
Weather84 degrees, sunny
Wind2 mph
UmpiresHome Plate - Paul Emmel, First Base - Mike Winters, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Ed Hickox

Research Notes

Brooks Conrad had 3 errors in the game, tying a postseason record, done by 11 others. He s the first Braves player to commit 3 errors in a postseason game. The last MLB player to commit 3 errors in a postseason game was Rafael Furcal in Game 5 of the 2008 NLCS. He is the fourth second baseman with 3 errors in a postseason game. The others are Davey Lopes in Game 5 of 1981 World Series, Buddy Myer in Game 1 of 1933 World Series, and Danny Murphy in Game 3 of 1905 World Series.
Aubrey Huff is the 4th Giants player with a game-tying hit in the 9th inning or later.
  [+]
Eric Hinkse is the 2nd Braves player in the postseason to hit a go-head homer in the 7th inning or later WHEN THE TEAM WAS BEHIND. The other was Michael Tucker in the top of the 8th inning of Game 5 in the 1998 NLCS against the Padres (off of Kevin Brown).
Tim Hudson is the first Braves pitcher to pitch at least 7 innings without allowing a ER in a postseason game since Tom Glavine in Game 2 of the 2001 NLDS.
How Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez pitched against the Braves: - Just like his no-hitter on July 10, 2009, he used the curveball. 1) Eight strikeouts with curveball, second most in career (nine in no-hitter) 2) Threw 28 curveballs, tied for second most in career (30 in no-hitter) 3) Hitters missed on 10 of 13 curveballs swung on (76.9 percent, career high). 4) Zero of the 13 curveballs swung on were hit in play (10 misses, 3 foul balls) 5) Eight curveballs chased outside the strike zone (career high)
A total of seven players have reached on an error in the ninth inning or later of a postseason game, in a situation in which the play gave the team the lead. The last before Buster Posey on Sunday was Melky Cabrera for the Yankees last year (walk-off error by Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis). Perhaps more notable: The last player to reach on a fielding error (defining that as a bobbled or misplayed ball, rather than a throwing error) in the ninth inning or later of a postseason game, with that play giving his team the lead, was Mookie Wilson (Bill Buckner's error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series). The only other, besides Posey and Wilson is Danny Murphy (1911 Athletics).
  [+]
Eric Hinske joins Kirk Gibson (1988 WS) and Ed Sprague (1992 WS) as the only players to hit a postseason pinch-hit home run that turned a deficit into a lead in the eighth inning or later.
From Elias: Tim Hudson broke up Jonathan Sanchez's no hitter with one out in the 6th inning. The last pitcher to break up a no-hitter in the postseason with ONE OR MORE outs in the sixth inning was Jack Sanford against Ralph Terry on October 16, 1962 (there were two outs in the 6th). The last pitcher to break up a no-hitter in the postseason with NO outs in sixth inning was Sterling Hitchcock against David Cone on October 20, 1998.

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