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Giants take 2-1 lead in NLCS on Cardinals' throwing error in 10th

San Francisco Giants' Gregor Blanco, right, celebrates after

San Francisco Giants' Gregor Blanco, right, celebrates after hitting the game winning sacrifice bunt during the 10th inning of Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in San Francisco. Credit: AP / Eric Risberg

SAN FRANCISCO - Some things defy an easy explanation. Consider these Giants, 5-4 winners over the Cardinals yesterday, thanks to a howling wind, a game-saving diving play by a 245-pound third baseman, and an innocuous 10th-inning sacrifice bunt that turned into the latest example of their resolve.

"I don't think it surprises any of us, especially lately, how we've been scoring in pretty unconventional ways,'' said Brandon Crawford, who sprinted home when reliever Randy Choate airmailed his throw on Gregor Blanco's bunt. "But we'll take it any way we can get it.''

Perhaps the Giants have hatched a secret plot to embrace the unconventional, to reject the way everyone else goes about winning baseball games. Maybe they've decided home runs are passé, like gas-guzzling SUVs that they've traded in for smart cars powered by soy beans.

It is San Francisco, after all.

Or maybe they're just plain lucky, a passable theory, except for the fact it keeps happening.

This postseason, the Giants are hitting .216 with runners in scoring position and they haven't hit a homer since Brandon Belt's 18th-inning solo shot beat the Nats Oct. 4. No matter.

When opportunity has created an opening, the Giants have been prepared to come crashing through, a healthy habit that has propelled them to a 2-1 lead in the NLCS.

It began with the wind, as vengeful as it once was at rickety old Candlestick Park. Rightfield at AT&T Park is already a booby-trapped expanse that preys on outfielders. The wind only added to the misery.

It's how the Giants led 4-0 before the fans' garlic fries could go cold.

In the first, Travis Ishikawa's bases-loaded drive sailed toward one of the archways in right-center. Rookie rightfielder Randal Grichuk slowed at a spot near the angled fence. The ball struck the bottom portion of the fence about 25 feet to his left.

"There's a lot going on out there,'' said Grichuk, whose mistake cleared the bases.

The wind, however, is an equal-opportunity tormentor. In the fourth inning, it shifted directions, deciding it was Hunter Pence's turn to suffer. With two runners on, Kolten Wong's liner traced roughly the same path as Ishikawa's drive.

"I didn't know it was going to knock it down and push it that way,'' Pence said.

Jhonny Peralta bounced a run-scoring hit past Pablo Sandoval in the sixth, then Grichuk found redemption with a solo shot that hit the leftfield foul pole in the seventh.

The game went into extras, and the Giants hadn't had a baserunner since the fourth. But they possess a predictable kind of resilience, the kind that can overcome a moribund offense, the kind that saves them when it counts.

It showed up in the 10th, when Sandoval smothered Matt Holliday's grounder down the line, wiping away what could have been a run-scoring hit.

It showed up again later when Crawford worked a walk off the tough lefty Choate, and when Juan Perez botched two sacrifice bunt attempts before reaching down to slap a single to left. Blanco stepped to the plate hoping to move the runners forward.

He did a whole lot more.

"It was easy,'' said Choate, who misfired after fielding Blanco's bunt to the mound. "It was right there.''

Then, it wasn't. The ball bounced away. Crawford raised his arms and touched the plate. The Giants spilled onto the field.

"If there's an unconventional way to win,'' Crawford said, "we'll find it.''

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