Pablo Sandoval Gives Giants a Fourth Walk-off Win in Six Days

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy started to get up from the podium, and then stopped and flashed a wry smile. 

"You guys like extra-inning games?" he said, looking out at reporters. "You've come to the right place."

Welcome to Oracle Park, where a ticket gets you a seat with a nice view, a chance to buy an $18 beer, and a strong guarantee of a few extra minutes or hours of baseball. Oh, and there's one more thing. You're very, very likely to leave cheering. 

For the 17th time in 20 games, the Giants walked out of the ballpark as winners. This time it was 5-4 over the Cubs. This time they played 13 innings. This time the hero was Pablo Sandoval. The details change, but the end result never does. 

"It wasn't, 'Gosh, I hope we're going to win this game," starter Madison Bumgarner said. "I feel like everyone knew we were going to win. It was just, when is it going to happen."

Bumgarner has had two strong outings on this homestand totaling 16 innings, but he has had to wait quite a while for the team to get an end result. The Giants have played 29 innings in those two games, but the ace hasn't minded one bit. At the very least, he has been guaranteed a bit more time with teammates, and right now he might not have to worry anyway. 

Tuesday's start should have had the feel of a finale, and at certain points it did. Bumgarner received a bit more warmth from the crowd of nearly 40,000, and some fans brought signs begging management to keep this group together. "Please don't do it, Mr. Zaidi," read one that was put up behind the plate repeatedly. But as he has done for weeks, Bumgarner focused on the play of the team, not the potential of the trade deadline. 

He said this team reminds him of the 2016 club, which was the best in baseball through the first half. Sandoval dropped a 2014 Giants comparison on the clubhouse. Those are lofty comparisons, but right now it's hard to argue. 

The Giants simply find a different hero every night, no matter what the prior circumstances. They have four walk-off wins in their past six games, and Sandoval was as unlikely a hero as any of them. 

The third baseman has slowed his scorching pace in recent days, and on Tuesday he hit into double-plays in two of his first four at-bats. He grounded out five times before coming up in the bottom of the 13th, and yet he found the bat speed and loft to muscle a game-winner out to left field. 

"I was thinking to myself, I'm a better hitter than that," he said. "I was trying to think of the things I worked on in the offseason and early in the season when I was driving the ball the other way."

Sandoval's blast couldn't have come at a better time. The pitching staff already was gassed after a road trip through Milwaukee and Denver, and these past six games have put a heavy load on the bullpen in particular. Bochy was trying to stay away from Sam Dyson and Trevor Gott, so it was Sam Coonrod in the 13th and the rookie got through Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Coonrod had one more inning and then Bochy would have broken the glass on Drew Pomeranz, who pitched two innings Monday. 

That wasn't needed. Sandoval freed Pomeranz up to run and find the Alhambra jug that Derek Holland made such a big part of walk-off celebrations.

"It's somebody different every day it seems like," Bochy said of Sandoval. "He came through for us when we needed it." 

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