It was a significant homer at the time, as the Braves were fighting for their playoff lives. And Sunday evening, Hinske did it again. Called upon to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth in a 1-0 contest, Hinske came up against Sergio Romo with a man on base and ripped a line drive off the right field foul pole. The sudden home run brought the Turner Field crowd to life and put the Braves just three outs away from taking a series lead, with a chance to clinch in Game 4 at home.
But those three outs proved to be difficult, and the ninth inning wound up pure heartbreak for Atlanta. Faced with a save situation, they had to make do without injured closer Billy Wagner. That left Bobby Cox to mix and match with his bullpen, and after Craig Kimbrel put two men on base while getting two men out, Cox called on Michael Dunn to face Aubrey Huff. Huff would line a base hit into right field to tie the game up.
Cox then went to Peter Moylan to pitch to Buster Posey, and though Moylan got Posey to hit a grounder to second base, Brooks Conrad allowed the ball to go right through his legs - his third error of the game - and on the play, the Giants were able to take a 3-2 lead. That lead would be nailed down in the bottom of the ninth by Brian Wilson, who got some revenge after having blown a save in Game 2.
It was a very dramatic end to a game that, for seven and a half innings, featured little of interest. The Giants' lone early run scored after Mike Fontenot led off the second with a triple and came home when Conrad dropped a pop-up off the bat of Cody Ross. That was Conrad's second error in two innings, after he bobbled a Freddy Sanchez grounder in the first.
And for a while, that was about it. Braves starter Tim Hudson was able to work his way out of jams by generating a ton of groundballs. and Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez kept the Atlanta batting order off balance all game long. The Braves didn't get their first hit until the bottom of the sixth, when Hudson hit a single, and Sanchez departed in the eighth having allowed just two singles and a walk while striking out 11 - the second-highest total in franchise playoff history.
It was only after Sanchez was pulled that Romo came in and Eric Hinske kicked off the drama. And unfortunately for the Braves, their high was a fleeting one.
Atlanta, and Brooks Conrad, will get a chance to put this all behind them Monday evening, in Game 4. Madison Bumgarner will pitch for the Giants, while Derek Lowe will go on short rest for the Braves.