Just when it looked as though the Giants appeared to have the miraculous comeback formula down to a science, somebody pulled the plug on the thrill machine.
For the third straight day and fourth time in six games, the Giants rallied dramatically from a deficit, but this time they couldn't deliver the finishing blow and dropped an 8-6 11-inning loss Tuesday to the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park.
The Giants, who used an astounding 11 pitchers in the game, rallied from an early 6-2 deficit to tie the game 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh and had a golden chance to seize the lead in the bottom of the eighth, but that rally stalled and ultimately so did San Francisco.
As it turned out, it didn't hurt the Giants in the National League West standings, as the Dodgers also lost in extra innings to San Diego and remain 4½ games behind. But after staging such a magnificent rally, the Giants were lamenting one that got away.
The Giants had runners at first and third with nobody out in the eighth and also had the bases loaded with one out, but they failed to bring home the lead run when pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez hit into an inning-ending double play.
They never got a better opportunity than that. In the 11th, Jason Kubel's RBI triple off left-handed reliever Javier Lopez (3-1) scored Aaron Hill, who had opened the inning with a single, his fifth hit of the night. Kubel then scored on a Miguel Monterosingle.
The Giants put the tying runs on board in the bottom of the 11th with nobody out, but their drama ran dry on three straight outs by the top of the order -- Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro hit fly ball outs, and Pablo Sandoval grounded out against Arizona's sixth pitcher, Josh Collmenter (4-3).
Arizona knocked Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong out of the game and was leading the Giants 6-2 after four innings. Vogelsong struggled with his command from the outset, throwing 25 pitches in the first inning and giving up a double and a walk even though he ultimately struck out three to end the inning. But Arizona scored once in the second, three more times in the top of the third and finally knocked Vogelsong out of the game on Hill's two-run homer with one out in the fourth.
But the Giants launched their comeback in the bottom of the sixth against Arizona starter Ian Kennedy. Sandoval opened the inning with a double and scored on Hunter Pence's one-out double to left.
Brandon Belt then delivered a rarity both for himself and the team -- a home-park home run, a blast over the right-field wall into McCovey Cove that cut the score to 6-5.
It was Belt's fifth homer of the year, but his first since June 23 against Oakland. It was also the Giants' first home run at AT&T since Aug. 13 (Brandon Crawford).
After a sensational double play by Crawford that got the Giants out of a jam in the top of the seventh, San Francisco tied the score in the bottom half. Pagan led off the inning with a double into the left-field corner against Arizona reliever Brad Bergesen. Scutaro sacrificed Pagan to third, and Sandoval hit a line shot between shortstop and third to score him.
Suddenly tied 6-6, the Giants still needed Santiago Casilla to rescue them from a bases-loaded one-out situation in the top of the eighth.
Sandoval has struggled mightily since coming off the disabled list with a