SAN FRANCISCO - They cannot be killed.
The San Francisco Giants, five outs from goed.ing home for the winter Monday night, pulled out a stunning come-from-behind, 13-inning 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs, overcoming an early knockdown and a ninth-inning gut punch to extend their season.
The Giants still are down 2 games to 1 in this best-of-five NL Division Series, but, oh, how they are alive after surviving Game 3.
For the 10th consecutive time, the Giants won an elimination game, keeping their hopes alive of winning their fourth World Series title in seven years, all in even-numbered years.
This time, the game-winner came from Joe Panik, whose single high off the wall in right field scored Brandon Crawford with the winning run. It came off Mike Montgomery, who provided four gallant innings of scoreless relief, but did not retire a batter in the 13th inning.
The walk-off came four innings after Kris Bryant silenced a raucous AT&T Park crowd with a two-run homer off Sergio Romo in the top of the ninth inning.
Yet even that jolt was not the most jarring turn of events over 5 hours, 3 minutes of taut baseball.
The Cubs, who had the champagne on ice after Jake Arrieta’s three-run homer off Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in the second inning, were cruising with a lead the entire game, until they self-destructed in the eighth.
Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie was once again the hero, delivering the go-ahead two-run triple off Cubs All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman with one out in the eighth, sending the sellout crowd dancing in the aisles.
The Cubs started unraveling when Brandon Belt led off the eighth inning with a single off Travis Wood. Cubs manager Maddon called on Hector Rondon, who promptly walked Buster Posey.
Maddon then turned to Chapman for a six-out save. He had done it only once in his career, back in 2013 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds.
He still hasn’t done it since 2013.
Chapman, firing five fastballs at 101-mph or faster, struck out Hunter Pence for the first out.
Gillaspie, whose three-run homer in the wild-card game got the Giants into this NLDS, smacked a fastball into the right-center-field gap, past Albert Almora Jr., scoring two runs and giving the Giants a 4-3 lead, their first of the series. Brandon Crawford added an insurance run with another single, and by the time the inning ended, Chapman was out of the game with a blown save.
Earlier, Arrieta proved Bumgarner wasn't invincible when he turned on a 94-mph fastball and sent it deep into the night in the left-field seats, stunning the raucous crowd at AT&T Park. It snapped Bumgarner’s consecutive postseason scoreless innings streak at 24 2/3 innings, the third-longest by a National League pitcher in history.
Arrieta, so excited when the ball left his bat, running to first base, wildly high-fived first base coach Brandon Hyde, and then nearly fell down on his way to second base.
The three-run homer felt like an insurmountable lead the moment Arrieta crushed it, and the feeling never changed as Arrieta cruised through the Giants’ lineup.
It all shifted once Chapman took the mound. It finally ended when Panik connected.
Copyright 2016 KXTV