Erik Kratz and the Deep Bullpen Guide Giants to 18-inning Marathon Victory

SAN FRANCISCO -- Erik Kratz stood in the middle of the Giants clubhouse after one of the longest games in franchise history and smiled as he noted that he's actually been through this before. Of course he has. 

The 38-year-old has seen just about everything in this game, and he recalled all the details of that 18-inning game he caught with the Pirates in 2016. It was in July. Daniel Murphy ruined a shutout in the ninth. He hit a homer off Mark Melancon.

"Melancon shook off five pitches," Kratz said. 

Kratz remembered it all, and in that moment, it became clear how Kratz got through 18 innings behind the plate and still managed to focus and put a two-strike pitch in play in the bottom of the 18th to bring Brandon Belt home as the winning run.

The Giants beat the Rockies 3-2, and on a night when the lineup went 19 at-bats without a hit at one point and then went 16 more immediately after, Kratz guided the bullpen to a remarkable performance. Eight different relievers combined for 13 shutout innings, striking out 19 Rockies. 

Tony Watson was an early standout, getting himself out of a jam he created by getting Ian Desmond and Josh Fuentes out with the bases loaded in the eighth. Melancon struck out three and worked around four baserunners in two innings and he still has not allowed a run this season. 

Trevor Gott also went two innings, striking out three while pumping 95-96 mph fastballs. Do you think the Nationals want him back right now? Nick Vincent followed with three shutout innings, allowing just one hit. Rookie Travis Bergen got the win by striking out five in his two innings.

"A really gutty effort," manager Bruce Bochy said. "They had some chances and we got out of it. That's a great win, a great win. We used everybody. We stretched some guys out to where they hadn't really been, three innings. Melancon threw two innings. they pitched their hearts out."

Kratz, who caught 265 pitches, said watching it was "incredible." He was there every step of the way.

"I caught a second wind in the 17th inning," he cracked. 

In the bottom of the 18th, he got enough of a grounder to allow Belt to reach when the catcher pulled his foot. Kratz was running down the line and wondering how an infielder got to the ball, but Belt followed him and assured him he was safe. 

[RELATED: Watch Giants win 18-inning game]

That all allowed Bergen, the last man standing before the ball was handed to Sunday starter Derek Holland, to take a deep breath. He had not had an at-bat since 2012 when he was in high school, but at 12:50 a.m., there he stood, watching Kratz bat with the bases loaded and one out.

"I was scared to death, that's for sure," Bergen said. "I was trying to decide if I would swing at the first pitch or not. I went back and forth like 50 times in what felt like the three hours I was standing there."

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