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San Francisco Giants take a victory lap after their 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (Jim Gensheimer/Staff)

Aside from the winning, the rollicking celebrations and their spots in the Major League Baseball playoffs that begin Friday, it's been a lousy season for the Bay Area teams.

The Giants' leading hitter was busted for drugs, bushy-bearded reliever Brian Wilson blew out his elbow and missed the season while erstwhile ace Tim Lincecum coughed up more runs than any pitcher in the National League.

The A's leading pitcher was busted for drugs, starter Brandon McCarthy required brain surgery after taking a line drive to the head and the team with the league's lowest payroll struck out more times than any team in American League history.

But champagne, as it turns out, is a heck of a stain remover. With their giddy blasts of bubbly, the Giants and A's managed to wash away all the turmoil, all the injuries and those predictions of imminent doom.

They also surged past the Dodgers and Angels, who launched multimillion dollar spending sprees in an attempt to buy first place.

In the end, they simply wound up spent.

"We wear jerseys. We don't wear contracts," A's outfielder Johnny Gomes sniffed when asked about payrolls during the playoff-clinching celebration Monday night.

Improbably, the Giants and A's will be part of the same postseason field for the first time since 2002. The N.L. West champion Giants open Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds or Washington Nationals while the A's schedule will be determined by whether they finish as a wild-card team or as the A.L. West champs.


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Until then, local fans can argue which of their teams is more talented. But for a more strenuous debate, try choosing which team overcame more hardships. Should the Giants and A's get a rematch of their 1989 showdown, this one would be the Bay Bridge (Over Troubled Waters) World Series.

"Everything that happened makes it that much more special," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, reflecting on the long list of hurdles. "I know there had to be people in baseball that thought we were in trouble at times. These guys were relentless."

Even after withstanding significant injuries to Wilson and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the Giants looked like toast on Aug. 15, when the commissioner's office suspended Melky Cabrera, the All-Star Game MVP, for a positive testosterone test.

Smelling wounded prey, the Dodgers soon amassed even more high-priced talent, swinging a trade that landed All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and pitcher Josh Beckett, among others, from the Boston Red Sox. That, combined with other midseason deals, represented an additional $260 million in payroll commitments for the Dodgers.

It turned out to be a ton to spend with no division title in return. One game ahead of the Giants on the day of Cabrera's drug suspension, the Dodgers dropped as far as 11 games behind San Francisco by late September.

San Francisco Giants celebrate their 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (Jim
San Francisco Giants celebrate their 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (Jim Gensheimer/Staff) ( Jim Gensheimer )

"It's almost like we take it personally when people say we're going to kind of fade away," first baseman Brandon Belt said on the night the Giants clinched the division title. "When somebody goes down, it seems the whole team just kind of picks it up and takes over."

In retrospect, the blockbuster deal of the summer belonged to the Giants. Infielder Marco Scutaro, acquired in an under-the-radar deal on July 27, leads the team with 85 hits since coming over from the Colorado Rockies. "Probably the most clutch player I've ever seen in my career," said Giants pitcher Barry Zito, who also played with Scutaro in Oakland.

The A's, meanwhile, also saw their obituaries piling up like box scores. (It's no wonder their signature celebration is based on the character from the "Weekend at Bernie's" movies -- the guy who, while given up for dead, keeps on dancing.)

People wrote them off whenever they lost a significant player, which is to say almost weekly. Bartolo Colon drew a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test on Aug. 22. McCarthy suffered a scary season-ending injury on Sept. 5. And Brett Anderson strained his right oblique muscle on Sept. 19.

The A's just shrugged and kept reaching into their endless bag of rookies. They used 19 rookies this season, the most in the A.L.

After one of them, Jarrod Parker, pitched the A's into the playoffs on Monday, the A's became the first team since the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers to have two rookies with at least 13 wins. (Parker and Tommy Milone each have 13.)

"This just shows that absolutely anything is possible," manager Bob Melvin said Monday while, around the corner from his office, his youngsters were spraying beer when the champagne bottles were empty. "But this doesn't happen unless everybody believes and everybody plays selflessly. These guys were all of the above."

The A's ($55 million payroll) celebrated within an hour of the Angels being eliminated from postseason contention despite an offseason spending spree that netted them Albert Pujols ($240 million over 10 years) and pitcher C.J. Wilson ($77.5 million over five years).

In the end, the star-studded Angels were outplayed by a lineup you couldn't pick out of a lineup. The A's did it behind eight players who hit at least 10 home runs -- tied for second most in team history.

Led by career fringe players like Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss, as well as Cuban rookie Yoenis Cespedes, this year's A's even out-bashed the Bash Brothers. The A's entered play Tuesday with 193 home runs, 66 more than Oakland's '89 World Series champs featuring Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

The A's don't even seem to mind that, until now, their miracle season was almost criminally neglected. The A's attendance ranks 27th out of 30 teams, with an average paid crowd of 20,408.

But now, with their spot in the postseason secure, baseball's best-kept secret is about to be blown.

"Our fans are so die-hard and make enough noise that it doesn't matter how many people we get here," Melvin said. "We always feel it."

Staff writer Alex Pavlovic contributed to this report. Contact Daniel Brown at dbrown@mercurynews.com.