LOS ANGELES — Albert Pujols lingered near the batter’s box after connecting. Many LA players jumped the dugout rail. And lots of fans at Dodger Stadium raised their arms, all ready to celebrate.
Mike Tauchman had other ideas.
Tauchman remarkably reached over the left-field wall to rob Pujols of a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, and San Francisco broke through in the 10th to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in an 8-5 thriller Friday night.
Dodgers pinch-hitter Austin Barnes provided a jolt when he hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth to make it 5-all. Pujols was up next and the recently signed slugger launched a long, high drive.
“I mean just off the bat I thought obviously he hit it well,” Tauchman said.
Tauchman angled back to the fence, jumped and made a sensational backhanded grab. He fell to the ground after knocking into the wall, raised his arm to show the ball and hobbled a bit on his way back to the dugout.
“You can never really tell, but I think any time you’re going back, or after anything, you want to go hard at first to keep yourself from drifting. I got to the spot to time my jump,” Tauchman said. “Sometimes the ball goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. I happened to make a play for the boys.”
The Giants got Tauchman in late April in a trade with the New York Yankees, who liked his defensive ability but had no room for him in an overcrowded outfield.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler called the play “an excellent, very, very difficult major league catch up against a wall that’s not easy to scale. Obviously, a game-saver and one of the better catches we’ve seen all season.”
As Tauchman debated where that catch ranked in his career, he said top two — but maybe No. 1.
“I robbed another homer in Baltimore. I got up pretty good,” Tauchman said. “It’s probably the most fun play you can make. You can practice over your chain-link fence in the backyard. The opportunities are so few and far between, so it’s pretty cool.”
Pujols has 668 lifetime home runs and is tied with Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and three other Hall of Famers with 12 career walk-off homers, trailing Jim Thome’s record 13.
“Albert hit a homer and just so happened the guy jumped up and caught it,” Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler said. “Tough game for us but at the end of the day, we still feel really good about what we have in this clubhouse.”
Three times the Giants had a lead and three times the Dodger tied it. In the end, the Giants wound up with their first win over their NL West rivals in five tries this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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