SAN DIEGO -- If Randy Johnson's career is over, he finished it with a strikeout.
The Big Unit and Pablo Sandoval each provided some final memories for a San Francisco Giants team that stayed in the wild-card chase until the last week of the season.Johnson made what could be the last appearance of his brilliant, 22-year big league career, pitching one adventuresome inning of relief in the Giants' 4-3, 10-inning win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.Although the Big Unit gave up an unearned run in the seventh that tied the game at 3, Sandoval provided the go-ahead run when he homered on the first pitch of the 10th inning. It was Sandoval's 25th.The 46-year-old Johnson said Thursday that he'll take his time in the offseason deciding his future. The 303-game winner also hoped to get one more outing this season, and manager Bruce Bochy wanted to oblige.Johnson, who has said he might be done if he can't return as a starter, was gone by the time the clubhouse was opened to the media. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez to end the seventh and, perhaps, his career."I don't know what Randy is going to do," Bochy said. "He'll have to make that decision. The way he finished that, by striking out a great hitter, if it does end, that is a nice way to end it."With the Giants leading 3-2, Johnson allowed an unearned run when, with the bases loaded, Nick Hundley scored after Sandoval caught David Eckstein's foul ball while tumbling head-over-heels into the Giants' third-base dugout.Johnson struck out Hundley leading off the inning, but the ball got away from catcher Eli Whiteside and Hundley reached. Luis Durango followed with a bunt single and pinch-hitter Luis Rodriguez sacrificed.Johnson hit Everth Cabrera on the foot to load the bases, bringing up Eckstein. The 246-pound Sandoval was reaching for Eckstein's foul ball when he hit the padded railing in front of the dugout and, unable to slow his momentum, tumbled over it, holding onto the ball. It took him about a minute to get back on his feet and out of the dugout.Because Sandoval left his feet to make the out and left the field of play, all the runners advanced a base."That was a pretty good thud," Bochy said. "It was about a 4 or 5 on the Richter [Scale]. But he's so tough."It was scary," Bochy said. "He made a great play. It gets a little confusing. Guys are trying to help, but he's a big man and you want to give him room to make the catch."Sandoval said he hit his leg on the dugout bench. "But I tried to catch that ball no matter what," he said.Johnson then struck out Gonzalez to end the inning. His two strikeouts put his career total at 4,875, the most by a left-hander and second to Nolan Ryan's record 5,714.If Johnson is done, Eckstein was happy to have been a part of his final inning. The two were teammates with Arizona during the final month of the 2008 season."Oh, man, he ended on it a strikeout, so that's good for him," Eckstein said."He's just such a quality guy, Hall of Famer on the first ballot, a wonderful man for the game and did a fantastic job on the field. It's an honor to have been in that last inning. He deserves all the credit that people are going to give him."Johnson missed more than two months with a shoulder injury before coming back last month in a reliever role. On June 4 at Washington, he became the 24th pitcher in major league history to reach 300 wins.A five-time Cy Young Award winner, Johnson is 303-166 in a career that's included stops in Montreal, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, the New York Yankees and San Francisco.Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who no-hit San Diego on July 10, allowed two runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings, walked four and struck out three.Jeremy Affeldt (2-2) pitched two innings for the win. Brian Wilson pitched the 10th for his 38th save in 45 chances. Ryan Webb (2-1) took the loss after allowing Sandoval's homer, which went an estimated 444 feet."With the kind of year he had, it was fitting that he hit the home run to win the ballgame for us," Bochy said."I just wanted to get one more hit, one more RBI," Sandoval said.Sandoval, in his first full big league season, finished with a .330 average and 90 RBIs.The Giants, eliminated from the wild-card race on Wednesday night, finished 88-74, an improvement over last year's 72-90 finish.The Padres, who were 63-99 last year, finished 75-87, going 37-25 since July 28. Still, that wasn't enough to save general manager Kevin Towers' job. Towers was fired on Friday because CEO Jeff Moorad apparently didn't like his management style.San Diego left fielder Chase Headley had a terrific play in the ninth inning, making a sliding catch of Randy Winn's sinking line drive, then make a one-hop throw to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to double off Whiteside, aboard on a leadoff single.Eckstein hit a two-run homer to left with one out in the sixth off Sanchez, his second. Everth Cabrera was aboard on a single.
Padres reliever Luke Gregerson had four strikeouts in the seventh inning. Eugenio Velez went down swinging, but the ball caromed off Hundley's glove for a passed ball, allowing Velez to take first.