Published April 21, 2012
| Associated Press
NEW YORK – Moments after getting a huge break, the San Francisco Giants gave it right back.
In a wild ending, Ruben Tejada scored the winning run on a throwing error by catcher Buster Posey and the New York Mets beat the bumbling Giants 5-4 Saturday after blowing a three-run lead in the ninth inning.
San Francisco tied it 4-all when pinch-hitter Brandon Belt's two-out popup twisted in the wind at Citi Field and landed untouched in shallow center for a two-run double. But the Giants couldn't turn their good fortune into a victory.
Lucas Duda opened the bottom of the ninth with a single off Clay Hensley (1-1). Josh Thole sacrificed and Tejada, who drove in three runs, drew a walk.
Pinch-hitter Justin Turner then hit a grounder to shortstop that could have been an inning-ending double play except that Aubrey Huff, who had just been moved to second base for the first time in his 13-season career, didn't cover the bag.
"My natural instinct my whole life, ball hit to my right, I go to first," Huff said.
Emmanuel Burriss hesitated before making a low throw to first and Turner was called safe on a close play. The infield single loaded the bases for rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who hit a grounder to Belt at first.
He threw home for the force and Posey tried for a double play, attempting to hit a moving target in reliever Jeremy Affeldt as he raced over to cover first. But the throw sailed wide into right field and Tejada came all the way around from second, sliding in to snap New York's three-game skid.
Pinch-runner Scott Hairston stuck out his leg in front of the plate while sliding home on the forceout and knocked Posey off balance as he threw.
"Yeah, he clipped my leg," Posey said, adding that he didn't consider it a dirty play at all. "I think it's just going hard."
Looking for an interference call, Posey argued with plate umpire Doug Eddings to no avail.
"At that point, you're just trying to plead your case, for what it's worth," Posey said.
Mike Pelfrey tossed eight terrific innings, outpitching Ryan Vogelsong and helping the Mets build a 4-1 cushion. Burriss hit an RBI single in the ninth, but New York appeared poised to lock up a fairly simple victory when Jon Rauch came out of the bullpen with two outs and got Belt to hit a high fly to shallow center.
Tejada had trouble with it immediately, though, fighting to get under the ball behind shortstop as it swirled around in the wind. Nieuwenhuis came rushing in from center and overran the ball, which dropped behind him for a two-run double.
In the dugout, Mets manager Terry Collins jerked his head down and threw his hands on top of his cap. In the stands, fans stood shaking their heads in disbelief.
"I was coming from a long way out, and it's my ball all the way and I just overran it," Nieuwenhuis said. "I thought it was going to be closer to the infield and it ended up carrying a lot more than I thought."
Rauch (2-0) struck out Angel Pagan to end the inning.
Collins pulled closer Frank Francisco in the ninth after San Francisco cut it to 4-2. Tim Byrdak struck out pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez with two on before Rauch came in looking for his first save with New York.
Vogelsong matched a career high with eight strikeouts. He went seven innings, yielding three runs and five hits.
San Francisco had won three straight and six of eight.
"I felt a lot more comfortable out of the stretch today and was able to make some pitches," Vogelsong said. "It's getting there."
Vogelsong had thrown 95 pitches when manager Bruce Bochy let him hit with a runner on second and two outs in the seventh. The pitcher struck out, keeping the score tied at 1.
Tejada's two-run double in the bottom half put New York ahead 3-1 and the Mets added an unearned run in the eighth on an infield single by slumping Ike Davis. Huff committed an error at first base earlier in the inning.
Belt stayed in at first after his pinch-hit double and Huff had to shift over to second because backup infielder Ryan Theriot was unavailable due to an illness.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Bochy said. "We still should have gotten out of that inning."
The Giants finished with three errors, giving them 19 in 14 games this season. They came into the day with the most in the majors.
Pablo Sandoval had an RBI single for San Francisco. He has hit safely in all 14 games this season.
NOTES: Giants ace Tim Lincecum is scheduled to pitch Sunday against RHP Dillon Gee (1-1, 2.92 ERA) — though rain is in the forecast. Lincecum is 0-2 with a 10.54 ERA in three outings, allowing 22 hits in 13 2-3 innings. "It's more confidence right now," Bochy said. "There's nothing mechanical wrong with him." The two-time Cy Young Award winner is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in his last three starts against the Mets, yielding one earned run in 22 innings. ... Theriot was flying from San Francisco to New York on Saturday but wasn't available off the bench.