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10/08/10 2:49 AM ET

Ross repays start with game-winning hit

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cody Ross' first thought was that he hit the ball hard. His second was whether it would get into the outfield.

Ross' fourth-inning single did, indeed, find its way to the grass, skipping under the glove of Braves third baseman Omar Infante and allowing Giants catcher Buster Posey to score, as Ross drove in the game's lone run in the Giants' 1-0 win in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night at AT&T Park.

"When I hit it I knew I hit it pretty good, but I didn't really know," Ross said. "Once I saw it past him I was, [deep breath], relief off of my shoulders."

Although starter Tim Lincecum produced a much more sparkling postseason debut than Ross' on Thursday, the Giants outfielder came up with the biggest hit of not only the game, but his life, in his second playoff at-bat.

"Absolutely, without a question," Ross said. "Nothing even comes close."

Although teammates such as Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez have gone through longer careers and experienced more losing than Ross, the 29-year-old outfielder is yet another Giant experiencing the thrill of October for the first time. After being awarded to the Giants via waivers on Aug. 22 from Florida, Ross hit .288 with three home runs in 33 games for San Francisco. When Andres Torres went down with an appendectomy in September, the seven-year veteran provided numerous big hits and solid defense as Torres' replacement in center field.

Once Torres returned, Ross struggled to find his way into the starting lineup, often on the bench in favor of power-hitting Jose Guillen. But a bulging disk in Guillen's neck continued to bother him, and the Giants opted to leave Guillen off the 25-man Division Series roster, creating more of an opportunity for Ross.

Given the way Ross has swung the bat lately, Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't the least bit surprised Ross produced quality at-bats.

"He's a good player, great player; that's why we got him," Bochy said. "He's good on both sides of the ball and made good contact there. We probably got a break, but in a game like this, you take it."

First baseman Aubrey Huff said Thursday's game once again proved the Giants aren't a team with one superstar. Any game, a different player can step up and deliver for them.

On Thursday, it was Ross -- who wasn't even with the team a month and a half ago -- who did so.

"This whole last couple of months have been a whirlwind," Ross said. "I'm just trying to soak it all up and whenever they call my name be ready to go, whether it's starting or pinch-hitting or whatever. It's nice to be out there and play and produce and help the team."

Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.