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Giants raise championship banner, edge Cardinals in 12

Apr 9, 2011 - 5:43 AM San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Aaron Rowand drilled a deep shot off the base of the left-center field fence to score the game-winning run in the 12th inning, as the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants opened the home portion of the 2011 schedule in style with a 5-4 win over St. Louis.

Nate Schierholtz reached first base on a fielder's choice and then moved to third when Andres Torres clipped a dribbler down the first base line. St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols muffed Brian Tallet's throw to first to put runners on the comers with two outs.

Freddy Sanchez was intentionally walked to load the bases. That set up Rowand's long game-winning blast off Tallet (0-1) to avoid spoiling a celebratory day in which the Giants raised their 2010 World Series banner before the game.

"These guys fought hard. It was quite a ballgame for a home opener," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Dan Runzler (1-1) got the win after pitching a perfect 12th inning, while Brian Wilson blew a save opportunity in the ninth inning. The Giants used eight pitchers in the win while the Cardinals went through six hurlers.

San Francisco was just one out away from winning this one in nine innings, but Wilson made it an interesting opener of a three-game series between the two clubs.

After getting two quick outs, the famously-bearded closer walked Yadier Molina and gave up an infield hit to Daniel Descalso. Wilson then brushed John Jay with an inside pitch to load the bases.

After falling behind 0-2, Ryan Theriot came up big to work a full count and finally singled through the left side of the infield on the 12th pitch of the at-bat to score two runners and take a 4-3 lead.

The Giants answered right back, though, with a two-out rally of their own. The first two San Francisco batters grounded out and Rowand slapped a single up the middle to keep the home team alive.

Rowand moved to second on a wild pitch and Buster Posey drew a walk. Pablo Sandoval was the clutch hitter this time with a single into right while Rowand rounded third to score the game-tying run. Despite blowing the save, Ryan Franklin avoided the game-winning run by getting Mike Fontenont to fly out to end the threat and send the game into extra innings.

The Giants' had Torres at third with no outs during the bottom of the 11th and were poised to win. Although, they failed to score after a sharp grounder to third caught Torres in a rundown. San Francisco then loaded the bases with two outs later in the inning, but Bryan Augenstein caught Mark DeRosa looking on the third strike to end the threat.

St. Louis scored the first run of the game after David Freese hit a double deep into center field and then touched home three batters later on Tyler Greene's single to center.

Miguel Tejada's solo shot started out the bottom of the third and knotted the game up at one. The Giants took the lead during the same inning on Freddy Sanchez's double that scored Jonathan Sanchez, who also reached on a double.

Jonathan Sanchez was San Francisco's starting pitcher and lasted five-plus innings, allowing one run with seven strikeouts.

Pat Burrell launched a home run into deep center during the bottom of the sixth to extend the lead to 3-1.

The Cardinals started their comeback in the eighth inning.

Theriot, who reached scoring position with a single and a steal, scored on Albert Pujols' single to draw the Cardinals within one. However, Sergio Romo got Allen Craig to strike out in an eight-pitch battle to end the threat.

"It was a tough loss," said Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook, who gave up three runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. "We couldn't get the job done in the end."

Game Notes

The Giants have won nine of their last 11 home openers. Last year was a 13- inning marathon win against Atlanta...The Giants will receive their World Series rings on Saturday...These teams split six 2010 meetings, with the Giants winning two of the three bouts held at AT&T Park. St. Louis had lost in five of its last seven trips to San Francisco...Sandoval finished with three hits, while Tejada had two hits in the win.