It looked and felt just like a postseason game. Long sleeves were worn by the players, the crowd was on their feet roaring, and the stakes were high. Welcome to September. It’s not October, but it sure did feel like it in San Francisco on Friday night as the Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-5 in 11 innings to open up a two-game advantage over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The Braves led early but were pegged back and trailed 4-2 from the fourth inning on.
That’s when Travis d’Arnaud hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to give them a 4-5 lead. Seemingly on the verge of winning, closer, Will Smith would relinquish a home run to Donovan Solano, a pinch-hitter, that tied the game and forced it into extra innings. That would not be the last time a pinch-hitter came up with a big RBI. That’s because in the bottom of the 11th the Giants sent pitcher Kevin Gausman to the plate with the bases loaded. He hit the ball plenty deep to right field, driving in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to give his team a thrilling win that put them back up by two in the division. The Dodgers, meanwhile, fell in Cincinnati to the Reds by a score of 3-1. Cincy got an RBI single from Tucker Barnhart in the fifth, a two-run double from Kyle Farmer in the sixth, and six strong innings from Luis Castillo on the mound that included ten K’s. The Dodgers’ lone run came in the top of the ninth as they attempted to mount a rally but were too little too late on the evening. Cincy’s win kept them one off the pace of St. Louis in the NL Wild Card race amid the Cardinals’ six-game winning streak.