DETROIT -- The never-say-die Giants cemented a legacy that will live forever.
After waiting 53 seasons for a first World Series title, San Francisco needed to wait just two for a second. The Giants refused to give in during an often-tumultuous season and refused to let up on the Tigers, sweeping them with a 4-3 win on Sunday.
The 10-inning victory capped one of the most dominant runs in baseball history. After falling behind three games to one in the National League Championship Series, the Giants won seven straight games, outscoring the St. Louis Cardinals and Tigers 36-7.
The final run came on a Marco Scutaro single that scored Ryan Theriot in the top of the 10th inning.
"I'm just glad the whole world got to see what this team is about," Ryan Vogelsong said. "Starting with Game 5 of the NLCS, we played our best baseball of the season. I always knew we were capable of this."
The whole clubhouse felt the same way, and that belief carried a team that overcame injuries and suspensions during the regular season and then won a record six elimination games to reach the World Series. Along the way, the Giants quite simply fell in love with the concept of team.
It was all for one, one for all, symbolized by a hand signal that players would flash at each other on the bases and in the dugout. After big plays, the Giants would put their hands together to form a heart, displaying a kind of love for the game and each other that's rare in Little League, let alone the Big Leagues.
"We bought into something you don't see very often," Hunter Pence said. "We bought into playing for each other and loving each other."
Pence led the emotional charge, delivering raucous pregame speeches that became a staple of the run through the Cincinnati Reds, Cardinals and Tigers. With a 3-0 lead in the World Series, the pregame ceremony -- complete with a huddle and sunflower-seed showers -- was the same, but the message was different. Several veterans took center stage before the Giants took the Comerica Park field and urged the rest of the team to wrap up the series on this night.
"We knew this was going to be the hardest game," Pence said. "We knew we had to push harder than ever."
They were right. After not trailing for 56 straight innings, the Giants fell behind on Miguel Cabrera's wind-aided two-run blast to right off Matt Cain in the third inning. Buster Posey, the likely National League MVP, later erased the deficit.
Posey had slumped for much of the postseason and didn't have an extra-base hit since a grand slam that spurred a Game 5 victory over the Reds in the NLDS. He had made up for the rough stretch at the plate by guiding a pitching staff that gave up just six World Series runs, the lowest total for a National League pitching staff since 1963.
In the sixth inning, Posey once again stepped into the spotlight at the plate. With a runner at first, he crushed a Max Scherzer changeup through the wind, and like Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, watched closely as the ball curled inside the left field foul pole and gave the Giants a 3-2 lead.
"I was out there leaning for it to stay fair," said Pence, who was on deck. "It was a really cool moment."
The Tigers' Delmon Young soon dashed that moment, hitting a solo shot to right to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. For several innings, the only big moments belonged to pitchers. Jeremy Affeldt struck out four in a dominant relief stretch, and Phil Coke kept pace for the Tigers.
But in the top of the 10th, the Giants felt that destiny was once again flowing through their dugout. Theriot had lost his job to Scutaro in August and was the surprise choice as D.H. for Game 4. The selection turned out to be one last stroke of genius by manager Bruce Bochy.
Theriot hit a leadoff single off Coke, who had struck out the previous seven Giants he faced in the series. In the dugout, Theriot's teammates looked around in amazement and started punching each other. They all knew Theriot had played for the 2011 champion Cardinals, and more importantly, they all knew Theriot had scored the winning run for LSU in the 2000 college National Championship.
"I knew he would score," Angel Pagan said. "When this guy stopped playing every day, I told him, 'You need to stay ready. You might be the hero again.' "
First, however, the Giants would need one more hero. After a perfect sacrifice bunt by Brandon Crawford and a strikeout by Pagan, Scutaro stepped to the plate. The MVP of the NLCS is credited for changing the nature of the Giants' lineup after joining the team at the trade deadline, and he showed his famous bat control throughout the postseason. Scutaro swung at 107 pitches in the playoffs and missed just twice. When Coke threw him a fastball on the fifth pitch, Scutaro again found the sweet spot.
His single to center scored Theriot and brought the Giants full circle.
For a group that took pride in being a cohesive unit, this was the ultimate team moment. Theriot had scored the World Series-winning run on a single by the man who took his job, and Theriot couldn't be happier.
"You can't describe the way we came together," Theriot said. "I've never seen anything like it."
The Giants had a unique group in 2010, and closer Brian Wilson capped that memorable run with a strikeout. On Sunday, the new bearded closer, Sergio Romo, ended the season with three straight strikeouts in the bottom of the 10th, getting Triple Crown winner Cabrera looking to end it.
The team that made a habit of pregame huddles and fiery speeches came together one last time, this time on the pitcher's mound. There were no more hurdles to leap, no more comebacks to make.
The Giants were champions, and they didn't need a speech to figure out what would come next.
"Let's prepare for that parade," Pence said, smiling. "It's time to celebrate."