ARLINGTON, Texas --- The prize that eluded Willie and Barry at long last belongs to the San Francisco Giants, thanks to a band of self-described castoffs and misfits and their shaggy-haired ace.
Tim Lincecum, Edgar Renteria and the Giants won the World Series on Monday night, beating the Texas Rangers 3-1 in a tense Game 5 and taking the trophy home to the city by the Bay for the first time.
It was an overdue victory -- the Giants last wore the crown in 1954, four years before they moved west. So much for a franchise that never quite got it done in October despite the likes of baseball giants Willie Mays, Barry Bonds and Juan Marichal.
"This buried a lot of bones -- '62, '89, 2002," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said, ticking off losing World Series appearances. "This group deserved it, faithful from the beginning. We're proud and humbled by the achievement."
Lincecum outdueled Cliff Lee in an every-pitch-matters matchup that was scoreless until Renteria earned the Series MVP award by hitting a stunning three-run homer with two outs in the seventh inning. Nelson Cruz homered in the bottom half, but Lincecum preserved the lead.
Lincecum beat Lee for the second time in a week. The two-time NL Cy Young winner gave up three hits over eight innings and struck out 10.
Former Augusta GreenJacket Brian Wilson closed for a save, completing a surprising romp through the postseason for a pitching-rich team that waited until the final day to clinch a playoff spot.
Manager Bruce Bochy enjoys calling his Giants a ragtag bunch. Maybe Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez fit that description. But the foundation of this club -- for now, for the foreseeable future -- is totally home-grown, built on a deep, talented and young rotation, a rookie catcher with huge star potential and their bearded closer.
"They did all right," Bochy said. "I couldn't be prouder of a group. They played with heart and determination. They weren't going to be denied. My staff, they accepted their roles and had only one mission."
A team seemingly free of egos did everything right to take the lead. Ross, the surprising MVP of the NL championship series, stayed square and hit a leadoff single and Juan Uribe followed with another hit up the middle.
That put a runner at second base for the first time in the game and brought up Huff, who led the Giants in home runs this year. So what did he do? He expertly put down the first sacrifice bunt of his career.
Lee struck out Pat Burrell to keep the runners put, but Ross, who was on third, began hopping home as soon as Renteria connected, sending a drive that kept sailing and landed over the left-center field wall.
The Giants won their previous title when they played in New York at the Polo Grounds. That's where Mays raced back for perhaps the most famous catch of all time.
Exactly when these Giants turned into world beaters is hard to say.
Trailing San Diego by 7 1/2 games in the NL West on July 4, the Giants meandered in the wild-card race until the stretch run, winning the division and finishing 92-70.
Come the playoffs, they became dangerous. Any well-armed team is. Start with Matt Cain -- three postseason starts, a 0.00 ERA. Throw in Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young winner. Add Madison Bumgarner, the 21-year-old rookie who helped blank Texas in Game 4.
San Francisco posted a trio of one-run wins in the opening round that sent Atlanta manager Bobby Cox into retirement, then stopped the two-time defending NL champion Phillies in the championship series. Those wins, like this one, came on the road.