The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 25, 2012

Sandoval's 3 HRs lead Giants to 8-3 romp in opener

(Continued)

Verlander was chased after allowing five runs and six hits in four innings, his shortest start this year, and he dropped to 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in World Series play.

"I just didn't execute tonight," Verlander said.

Left off the 2010 postseason roster by the champion Giants, Zito shut out the Tigers until Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera's RBI single in the sixth. San Francisco won for the 14th straight time with Zito starting — quite a turnaround from his image as a $126 million bust.

When Giants manager Bruce Bochy tried to call Zito on Tuesday to let him know he was getting the ball, Bochy couldn't get through. Turns out Zito had left his phone at the ballpark.

"Just the opportunity alone was mind-blowing. Me and my wife were dancing around when I heard," Zito said.

Sandoval, given his nickname for his roly-poly physique, was benched in four of five games during the 2010 World Series, his production and confidence down, his weight up. In the stands on this night, fans wearing furry panda hats celebrated with him.

"It's just a pleasure to be a part of it all," he said.

There had been only one previous three-homer game at the ballpark — by the Dodgers' Kevin Elster in the very first game in 2000. No Giant had hit three at home since Barry Bonds back in 1994 at Candlestick Park.

Perhaps because AT&T has become a premier pitcher's park — there were just 84 homers there this year, 25 fewer than any other big league stadium.

"I'll never forget it," Bochy said. "Three home runs on a stage like this, that's pretty impressive."

Ruth did it in 1926 and again in 1928, Jackson in 1977 and Pujols last year.

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