SAN FRANCISCO California (Reuters) - The San Francisco Giants battered Kansas City’s second tier relievers to turn a three-run deficit into an 11-4 blowout on Saturday and level the best-of-seven World Series at 2-2.
The Royals grabbed a 4-1 advantage in the third inning and looked as though they might inch closer to a storybook title triumph before the Giants showed the resilience that has delivered them two other World Series titles since 2010.
“It was just the third inning, we had a lot of game to play,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost told reporters of his team’s blown lead. “I’ve got a lot of respect for the Giants. I never feel good until we make the last out.”
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy felt great about the way his club battled.
“Great game tonight,” said Bochy. “These guys fought hard. They scratched and clawed to get back in it. You know you get down against this bullpen, you have your work cut out. But these guys didn’t stop fighting.”
In front of a raucous home crowd, the Giants produced their biggest offensive display of the playoffs and rescued starter Ryan Vogelsong, who lasted just 2-2/3 innings and gave up seven hits and was in line for his first post-season loss.
Hunter Pence had three hits and drove in three runs, while Pablo Sandoval and Joe Panik each had two hits and a pair of RBIs.
San Francisco had 16 hits against five Royals pitchers as the game got out of hand before manager Yost was ready to turn to his trio of dominant relievers in Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland.
The Giants scored eight runs on 10 hits against four relievers after being held hitless for four innings in Friday’s 3-2 loss.
The Royals, who are seeking their first World Series since 1985, scored four times in the third after they had fallen behind 1-0 in the opening inning.
Eric Hosmer’s infield single made it 1-1, before Omar Infante added a two-run single and Salvador Perez drove in another run with a single.
Hosmer and Perez combined for six of Kansas City’s 12 hits.
San Francisco, who tied the game by the fifth, bust it open in the sixth inning with three runs as Yost relied on rookie Brandon Finnegan to preserve the tie with plans to use his big three from the seventh on.
“I’ve been going to the whip on those guys,” Yost said. “I’ve got to have them for three more games so they’ve got to be at their best.”
Finnegan was torched for five runs on five hits in one inning of work.
“There was urgency from pitch one, this is the World Series,” Pence told reporters. “This was a very crucial game to even the series and we came out with guns blazing.”
Pablo Sandoval, who had gone 0-for-4 on Friday, broke a 4-4 tie with a two-run single in the sixth.
“I didn’t feel great yesterday,” said Sandoval. “It was a tough moment. I told myself (today) ‘you have to play with desperation. You’re the guy, step up for your team mates.'”
Sandoval’s big hit in the sixth came with two outs and the bases loaded. “Won the ball game for them,” Royals manager Yost said.
Kansas City starter Jason Vargas surrendered three runs in four innings, not going deep enough for the Royals to get the lead over to their dominant threesome.
Game Five is on Sunday in San Francisco with the Giants starting ace Madison Bumgarner, who dominated the Royals in a series-opening 7-1 victory, against James Shields.
Additional reporting by Jamal Corner; Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Sudipto Ganguly