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Published: 10/11/2010

Giants' late rally trumps Braves

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATLANTA - Brooks Conrad bobbled a grounder. Then he dropped a popup. Finally, a hard shot skidded under his glove in the ninth inning for his third error of the game, allowing the San Francisco Giants to rally for a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves Sunday.

The Braves were within one out of taking control of the NL division series, but a 30-year-old journeyman second baseman who wouldn't have been playing if not for season-ending injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado simply couldn't catch the ball.

Buster Posey's grounder went right under Conrad's glove, his worst miscue yet in a performance that might speed up the retirement of Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Freddy Sanchez raced around with the go-ahead run, and Brian Wilson shut down the Braves in the ninth to give the Giants a 2-1 lead in a tense best-of-five series in which all three games have been decided by one run.

San Francisco can close it out tonight. For Conrad, the memories of this one will linger for a lifetime. He tied a postseason record for errors in a game, according to STATS LLC.

"It was completely embarrassing," said Conrad, who has made eight errors in the last seven games going back to the regular season. "Once again, I feel like I let everyone down. I wish I could just dig a hole and sleep in it."

Atlanta did nothing against Jonathan Sanchez, managing only two hits in 71/3 innings, and the Giants led 1-0 on an unearned run provided by Conrad's second error, that dropped popup in short right field in the second.

But when pinch-hitter Eric Hinske lined a two-run homer off Sergio Romo in the eighth, the Braves took a 2-1 lead.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, there was no Billy Wagner to close it out. He was removed from the roster before the game with a pulled muscle on his left side.

Rookie reliever Craig Kimbrel was within one out of a save before the Giants rallied. Aubrey Huff tied it with a run-scoring single off Mike Dunn. Then, Posey hit a grounder to just the right man.

The wild finish overshadowed Jonathan Sanchez's brilliant performance - he didn't allow a hit until the sixth - and Hinske's dramatic homer, which carried the Braves to within one strike of having a chance to close out the series at Turner Field.

Now, the Braves will need to win the final two games to extend Cox's career to at least the NL championship series.

In the ninth, Kimbrel retired Cody Ross on a popout to Conrad, but pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa drew a walk. Andres Torres took a called third strike and it was all up to Freddy Sanchez with the standing-room crowd of 53,284 going nuts.

Sanchez was down to his last strike when he smacked a single to center, keeping the Giants alive. That was it for Kimbrel, who was replaced by Dunn, another rookie. The left-hander got ahead on Huff, but the first baseman yanked a slider over the outside corner into right field, the throw from Jason Heyward not even close to getting Ishikawa as he slid across with the tying run.

Peter Moylan took over for Dunn and got what he's known for: a ground ball from Posey.



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