SAN FRANCISCO -- Every husband knows better than to keep his spouse waiting for anything too long. So with his wife, Elizabeth, cooling her heels in AT&T Park's players' parking lot, Hector Sanchez did his best to end the delay.
Demonstrating his knack for producing in the clutch, Sanchez lined a tiebreaking single in the 12th inning to give the Giants a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in a standoff that began Tuesday evening and ended 15 minutes past midnight.
The game's 12-inning duration matched an AT&T Park record for the longest between the Giants and Dodgers, who endured similar marathons on April 12, 2003, and July 14, 2007. Many fans left the yard during the four-hour, 54-minute contest, but Mrs. Sanchez, convinced that the end was imminent, refused to peek inside.
Said Hector Sanchez, "Unbelievable, right?"
Anything seemed possible after the Giants loaded the bases in the fourth, fifth and 10th innings yet could not score. They went 0-for-5 with the bases full and are 2-for-13 in those situations this year.
"When you have a couple of really nice chances and don't score, that can be frustrating," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who turned 59 before the game ended (his birthday is April 16). "But the guys kept fighting."
The Jackie Robinson Day struggle between the storied rivals ended shortly after Brandon Crawford, whose walk-off homer ended the Giants' previous game Sunday, singled with one out off Brandon League (0-1), the Dodgers' sixth reliever. Crawford moved to second base on Brandon Hicks' groundout and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Up came Sanchez, who was 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his career against League. Sanchez whacked League's 1-1 fastball off the glove of diving second baseman Justin Turner.
Sanchez knew what he might see from League.
"I know he's got a split and a really good sinker," Sanchez said.
Sanchez typically remains calm in anxious moments, as his lifetime total of four walk-off hits suggests. He delivered his first game-winner as a rookie on May 6, 2012, lining a pinch-hit single in the 11th inning to beat Milwaukee. Sanchez most recently delivered a walk-off hit on June 22, 2013, against Miami.
The switch-hitter attributed his proficiency under pressure to staying alert as catcher Buster Posey's backup.
"I have to be ready for any situation," said Sanchez, who appeared Tuesday as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and remained in the game to replace Posey and keep him fresh for Wednesday.
"He's such a confident kid," Bochy said of Sanchez. "He wants to be up there with men on base. And he usually ends up getting some good swings."
Yusmeiro Petit (1-1), the Giants' seventh reliever, survived Hanley Ramirez's one-out double to pitch a scoreless 12th and earn the decision. In the Giants' last 12 games, their relievers have recorded an 0.68 ERA, yielding five runs (three earned) in 39 2/3 innings.
Trailing, 2-1, the Giants mustered a ninth-inning run off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to force extra innings. Hitless in four previous plate appearances, Angel Pagan lashed a one-out single off Jansen's glove, a hard comebacker that the reliever couldn't handle cleanly. Jansen forged ahead on the count, 1-2, to Brandon Belt, who grounded a double past third base and up the left-field line to score Pagan.
Earlier, Juan Uribe tormented his former Giants teammates. He homered off Tim Lincecum to open the scoring with two outs in the second inning, then doubled off Jean Machi to christen the seventh with the score tied, 1-1. Uribe moved to third base on Tim Federowicz's sacrifice bunt and scored on Turner's pinch-hit single off Javier Lopez.
The Giants scored in the sixth against reliever Chris Withrow. Hunter Pence lined a leadoff single, reached second base on shortstop Ramirez's throwing error, advanced on a wild pitch and came home on Crawford's sacrifice fly.
Lincecum allowed five hits in five innings and trimmed his ERA from 9.90 to 7.20. The right-hander struck out the side in the third inning as a prelude to the fourth, when he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam by fanning Uribe and Federowicz.
"I wanted to stay aggressive in the strike zone," said Lincecum, who has struck out 17 batters while issuing just one walk.
During his prolonged wait in the clubhouse after leaving the game, Lincecum said he "tried to rally the troops" by rooting for a Giants run in any way, shape or form.
"It's a big win," he said, "especially when you win it in the morning."