Astros rally in 9th, but fall short in 12th
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Not even a two-run rally in the ninth inning off San Francisco closer Santiago Casilla was enough to prevent the Houston Astros from falling deeper into the cellar in the NL Central.
It's been that type of season for manager Brad Mills' club, which has just one win this month and owns the worst record in the majors.
Hector Sanchez, whose throwing error helped the Astros score the tying run in the ninth, singled in Pablo Sandoval in the bottom of the 12th inning to lift the Giants a 3-2 win over Houston on Saturday night.
"I thought we did a real good job in the ninth inning, to be able to battle back like we did," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "Our bullpen battled their way through (but) they were able to get through to (Brett) Myers in the 12th."
It was a tough evening all the way around for the Astros.
Houston fell to 9-34 on the road and lost shortstop Jed Lowrie to a sprained right ankle.
Lowrie was knocked out of the game in the third after apparently getting spiked in the right ankle. Lowrie was injured while trying to take a short throw from second baseman Jose Altuve.
The throw glanced off Lowrie's glove, and as the shortstop turned his body to look for the ball, Gregor Blanco slid into the bag and appeared to spike Lowrie's ankle.
Lowrie, who leads Houston with 14 home runs, immediately dropped his glove and hopped around on one foot before falling to the infield dirt as Mills and a team trainer rushed from the dugout.
"Right now it feels like my whole leg," said Lowrie, who was taken for X-rays. "My foot got caught by (Blanco's) foot ... and it twisted it. I think it will get better but I'm hoping it's not a serious thing."
The Astros fell to 0-9 in extra-inning games this season.
Sanchez, whose throwing error in the top of the ninth helped Houston score the tying run and force extra innings, hit a sharp grounder off Myers that bounced off the glove of Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and went into right field.
Sandoval, who opened the inning with an infield single, easily beat the throw home from Matt Downs.
Jeremy Affeldt (1-1) got the last out in the top of the 12th.
Sanchez finished with a career-high four hits while Melky Cabrera had two to add to his majors-leading total for the Giants.
Houston nearly stunned the Giants after scoring twice off Casilla with two outs in the ninth.
Casilla struck out J.D. Martinez to open the ninth then walked Scott Moore. After another strikeout, Justin Maxwell doubled in Moore and later scored from second base on a wild pitch by Casilla and throwing error by Sanchez.
Casilla had struck out Chris Snyder but the ball bounced away from Sanchez, who quickly retrieved it before throwing wide of first base.
That prevented Tim Lincecum from earning the win after his most impressive outing of the season. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, who went into the game with the highest ERA in the majors among qualifying pitchers, allowed five hits over eight innings and had a career-high 11 strikeouts.
The game stayed tied until Sandoval singled leading off the 12th against Myers (0-4). Angel Pagan also singled before Sanchez delivered the game-winner.
Astros starter Lucas Harrell worked out of a pair of jams early before walking Lincecum and Gregor Blanco leading off the fifth. Harrell got Ryan Theriot to hit into a double play but Cabrera followed with an RBI single to drive in Lincecum.
"This was the worst I thrown the ball all year," Harrell said. "I didn't feel good or comfortable. Overall I didn't locate very well."
Pagan and Sanchez greeted Houston reliever Fernando Abad with back-to-back doubles in the sixth to make it 2-0.
Notes: Houston catcher Jason Castro has been bothered by pain in his right knee but Mills is hopeful of starting Castro in Sunday's series finale. Houston is being cautious because it's the same knee on which Castro had season-ending surgery in March 2011. ... RHP Matt Cain pitches the finale for the Giants, the first time he's faced the Astros since pitching a perfect game against them on June 13.
Updated July 15, 2012