Orovillemr.com photo: San Francisco Giants’ Joe Panik watches his two-run single in front of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann during the ninth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The Giants won 4-3.
By Jeremy Kahn
SAN FRANCISCO — Down to his last strike on multiple occasions, Joe Panik came up huge in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Panik slapped a single to right field off of Luke Jackson that scored Kevin Pillar and Mac Williamson, as the San Francisco Giants came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 before a crowd of just 28,030 at Oracle Park.
This was the second walk-off of the season for the Giants, and the second this month, as Buster Posey hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 1.
As for Panik, this was his second career walk-off hit and first since May 1, 2015 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Jackson came on in the bottom of the ninth inning, as he looked for his team-high seventh save of the season; however, in the end it did not happen.
The closer got Evan Longoria to ground out for the first out of the inning, but Brandon Crawford singled to left, then Jackson got Steven Duggar to strike out for the second out of the inning and then Crawford advanced an additional 90 feet on defensive indifference.
Pillar then cut the Braves lead down to one, as he singled in Crawford and then Pablo Sandoval came to the plate. Pillar then stole second to get into scoring position that setup Sandoval for the possible game-tying hit.
Sandoval hit a ball into the hole at third base that Josh Donaldson dove and kept the ball from going into left field that would have tied up the game, and Pillar stayed at third base. Williamson came on to pinch run for Sandoval, and stole second that setup Paniks heroics.
Panik fell behind 0-2 and then the count went to 3-2, and finally on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Panik hit a 95 mile per hour into right field that scored both Pillar and Williamson to give the Giants an improbable victory.
The Braves got on the board in the first inning, as Dansby Swanson singled and eventually scored on a Nick Markakis double to left field.
Panik got the Giants rally started in the bottom of the first inning, as he singled off of Braves starter Julio Teheran, he went to second on a Buster Posey single and then over to third on a Brandon Belt fly ball to left field. Evan Longoria then tied up the game, as he doubled to left field to easily score Panik from third base; however, the rally ended, when Crawford struck out to end the inning.
Both Teheran and rookie Shawn Anderson matched each other inning for inning until the Braves finally got to Anderson in the top of the sixth inning and chased the rookie, who was making just his second major league start.
Donaldson and Markakis ended Andersons night, as they hit back-to-back singles in the top of the sixth inning and that brought on Reyes Moronta, who got Austin Riley to fly out to Duggar in centerfield; however, both Donaldson and Markakis advanced an additional 90 feet. Brian McCann broke up the tie, as he hit a sacrifice fly to Stephen Vogt in left field.
Freddie Freeman extended the Braves up to two runs in the top of the seventh inning, as he hit an opposite field single that scored Ronald Acuna, Jr., who walked with one out in the inning and went to second on a Swanson walk.
Acuna made a huge defensive play in the bottom of the third inning, as he robbed Brandon Belt of a solo home run.
If people that thought Acunas plat was huge, Crawford also came up with two huge defensive plays of his own.
The shortstop snared a Freeman line drive in the top of the third inning that looked like it was going into left field, but Crawford caught the ball to rob Freeman of a base hit.
Crawford came up huge on the defense again in the top of the ninth inning, as Acuna attempted to steal second base and was originally called safe; however, replays showed that Crawford applied the tag on the foot and the umpires went to replay and after a 44-second review, it was determined that Acuna was indeed out.
Paniks two-run walk-off base hit gave the win to Trevor Gott, who is 2-0 on the season, while Jackson falls to 2-1.
Anderson, who was making his second start of his career, went five innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, not walking a batter and striking out three, as he did not fare in the decision.
The veteran Teheran went 5.2 innings, allowing just one run on three hits, walking three and striking out six.
Once again, the Giants helped out, as they went the final four innings, allowing one run on three hits, walking three and striking out two.
NOTES: Vogt started in left for just the second time in his major-league career, and it was his fifth appearance in left field and 17 in right field. Vogt last played in the outfield in 2017.
Sandoval picked up his 10th pinch-hit of the season, and is now 10-for-25 as a pinch-hitter this season.
In 16 career games against the Giants, Donaldson is 21-for-60, a .350 clip with seven extra base hits.
Acuna, who hit two home runs in the series opener on Monday night, has reached base in seven of his 10 plate appearances in the series, as he has walked twice and picked up five hits.
UP NEXT: Jeff Samardzija looks for his third win of the season, as he takes the mound on Wednesday night for the Giants, while left-hander Max Fried looks to raise his record to 7-2 on the season, as he toes the rubber for the Braves.