By HAL McCOY
The Cincinnati Reds-San Francisco Giants baseball game Friday night/Saturday morning was a couple of Alfred Hitchcock movies — ‘The Birds’ and ‘Vertigo.’
In the last segments of the 17-inning game, dozens of sea gulls circled above AT&T Park, waiting for fans to clear out so they could munch on scraps.
And from the fifth inning on, both teams staggered back and forth from home plate as if everybody was suffering from vertigo.
IT ENDED AT 3:43 A.M. Cincinnati time when San Francisco catcher Buster Posey crushed a one-out home run off Robert Stephenson in the bottom of the 17th for a 3-2 Giants victory.
It was San Francisco’s first victory over the Reds this season after four losses and the run off Stephenson was the first the Giants scored off the Reds bullpen after 19 scoreless innings this season.
IT ALSO WAS A ROUGH night for the umpires, especially home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. He was hit four times by baseballs, one that knocked him off his feet. After the 13th inning all four arbiters left the field for a potty break and Randazzo left the game.
The last time Reds starter Scott Feldman faced the Giants, last week, he pitched a complete-game shutout.
His shutout Friday night didn’t survive the first batter. Giants leadoff hitter Denard Span homered into McCovey Cove outside the stadium on the eighth pitch of his at bat.
The Reds scored two runs off former teammate Johnny Cueto in the second inning on a single by Scott Schebler, a triple by Scooter Gennett and and sacrifice fly by Tucker Barnhart for a 2-1 Reds lead.
And then the Reds couldn’t find home plate for 15 consecutive innings — the same team that scored 31 runs in three games against the Giants last week in Great American Ball Park.
The Giants tied it in the fifth in a strange way. The first two batters, Christian Arroyo and Buster Posey both dropped bunts down the third base line and beat them out for hits without drawing throws.
Denard Span singled to right field to tie it, 2-2.
THEN CAME A LONG, LONG, LONG string of futility on both sides.
The Reds went from the sixth inning to the 12th without a hit before pinch-hitter Devin Mesoraco singled. They drew four walks, but couldn’t bribe a hit.
But the Giants were doing no better against the Reds bullpen and the game droned on and on and on.
Feldman pitched seven solid innings, giving up two runs and seven hits. Cueto was even better — seven innings, two runs, five hits.
THE GAME WAS STUFFED WITH base-running blunders.
The Reds had two on with nobody out in the 14th after Scott Schebler and Scooter Gennett singled.
Tucker Barnhart bunted the runners to third and second. Alas, Jose Peraza grounded to short and Schebler was thrown out at home. Then Giants pitcher Bryan Morris picked Scooter Gennett off second base.
Joey Votto also blundered in the first inning when the Reds had runners on second and first with one out. Adam Duvall popped out to short and Votto was doubled off first.
AND THE GIANTS WERE GUILTY parties, too. Christian Arroyo singled to lead the fourth and Posey missed a pitch on a hit-and-run and Arroyo was out at second base from San Francisco to Oakland back.
When Span singled in the fifth to tie the game he tried to go from first to second on his hit and was thrown out at second.
With two outs in the eighth, Brandon Belt shot a double up the right center gap and should have been content with a double. He tried to stretch it into a triple and made the third out at third on a Billy Hamilton to Zack Cozart to Eugenio Suarez relay play.
It was that kind of night — and early morning.
AFTER FELDMAN LEFT, Wandy Peralta pitched a scoreless inning (one hit), Michael Lorenzen pitched a scoreless inning (one hit), Blake Wood pitched two perfect innings, Drew Storen pitched a scoreless inning (one hit) and Austin Brice pitched two perfect innings.
Stephenson pitched two scoreless innings before Posey said enough is enough.
After Cueto left, seven Giants bullpenners held the Reds scoreless for eight innings, three by Bryan Morris (three hits and a walk) and the last relief pitcher available to manager Bruce Bochy, Corey Gearrin.
THE REDS MUFFED AN opportunity in the 15th when they loaded the bases in the 16th with two outs. Billy Hamilton went to 3-and-1, but struck out and was 0 for 7. And he injured himself swinging at strike three but had to remain in the game because manager Bryan Price was out of position players.
That also meant that pitcher Stephenson had to bat with two outs in the 17th and lo and behold he blooped a single, his first major league hit. Eugenio Suarez was hit by a pitch, moving Stephenson to second, but Scott Schebler grounded to first to end that threat.
Both catchers, Cincinnati’s Tucker Barnhart and San Francisco’s Buster Posey caught the entire game.
There were some ugly numbers besides Hamilton 0 for 7. Zack Cozart was 0 for 6 with two strikeouts. Suarez was 1 for 7 with four strikeouts.
There were more than 41,000 fans at the game’s beginning, the Giants 529th straight sellout, counting post-season games, but there were more sea gulls than fans when it ended.