Baggs' Instant Replay: Padres 2, Giants 1

Baggs' Instant Replay: Padres 2, Giants 1
April 26, 2013, 9:30 pm
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The Giants are 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position over their last two games. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

BOX SCORE

SAN DIEGO – Tim Lincecum managed to avoid the big inning Friday night.

But the small one was enough to trip him up.

Petco Park’s newer, smaller dimensions were no aid to the Giants offense, which had an uninspiring night in a 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres. Right-hander Andrew Cashner, a reliever still building his pitch count as a starter, completed six innings for just the second time in his career as the Giants made too many quick outs while losing their third consecutive game.

The Giants might be riding a lengthy winning streak with a few clutch hits here and there. They are 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position over their last two games. Included among those missed chances: Brandon Crawford’s jam-shot grounder with runners at the corners in the ninth that the Padres turned into an easy force out to clinch the win.

Starting pitching report
Lincecum (2-1) has his share of belt-high pitches to rue, but he certainly pitched well enough to win.

The right-hander completed seven innings for the first time since Aug. 10 of last season (against the Rockies), while turning in his first start of at least seven innings and no more than two earned runs since July 31 against the Mets. (He made 15 starts in between.)

His slider and split/change had terrific finish as he compiled a season-high nine strikeouts – his most since July 14 of last year against Houston -- yet remained mostly efficient with 105 pitches in seven innings. It certainly helped that his defense made plays behind him, including diving catches by Angel Pagan in center and third baseman Pablo Sandoval in foul ground.

The Padres’ six hits were all singles, and they did well to group four of them in a six-batter span in the third inning. Cashner led off the rally with his second career hit.

Then Sandoval made the play of the night, sprinting and flopping on his stomach in foul ground while catching Everth Cabrera’s popped up sacrifice attempt.

Cashner ended up advancing, though, on his first career stolen base – a delayed attempt after a breaking pitch momentarily got away from catcher Buster Posey as Will Venable struck out.

The third out proved elusive, though. Cashner slammed on the brakes around third base when Chase Headley hit a line single to right field. But he was able to trot home when Carlos Quentin followed with a single. Yonder Alonso added one more line drive hit to score Headley from second base with the tiebreaking run.

Lincecum struck out Chris Denorfia to escape the inning with no further damage, then retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced. He might have gone deeper if the Giants didn’t need to pinch hit for him in the eighth.

Notably, he had eight ground outs and no fly outs.

Bullpen report
George Kontos kept a one-run deficit from widening in the eighth inning.

At the plate
The Giants entered the game with the fewest pitches per plate appearance (3.7) in the major leagues. That proved to be a disadvantage against Cashner, who throws hard but has been known to struggle with command and was operating with a pitch limit.

Pagan did help the Giants get on the board in the first inning – something the Giants did so often on the road last season – when he singled, stole second base, advanced to third on Marco Scutaro’s ground out to the mound, then scored on a wild pitch.

But the Giants couldn’t come up with any clutch hits. They were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position after being 0 for 10 in Wednesday’s loss to the Diamondbacks.

Can’t remember the Giants’ past hit with a runner in scoring position? Well, maybe you’ve blocked it out. It was Hunter Pence’s grounder in the 10th inning Tuesday, when Sandoval was thrown out by 25 feet while trying to score.

The Giants had a couple of chances, notably in the third inning when Pagan singled and Scutaro walked. But Sandoval struck out, and Posey and Pence followed with ground outs to short.

A last chance materialized in the ninth against Padres closer Huston Street when Posey hit a one-out single and Belt squeaked a two-out hit through the left side to put runners at the corners. (Pence struck out in between, and his failure to advance the runner ended up stinging.)

Crawford could not play the hero, though.

In field
Pagan was plagued by a few poor reads and jumps on the last homestand, but the center fielder had no such issues when Jedd Gyorko hit a sinking line drive his way in the second inning. He made a tumbling catch and held it aloft as two runners retreated.

Sandoval’s catch was more spectacular, but Pagan’s might have come at a bigger time. Alonso had walked and Denorfia had singled to start the second inning.

Attendance
The Padres announced 34,929 paid, including the entire membership of the Nick Noonan Fan Club.

Up next
The Giants and Padres continue their three-game series at Petco Park on Saturday afternoon. Barry Zito (3-1, 3.42) matches up against Padres left-hander Eric Stults (2-2, 4.70) for the second time in six days. Zito threw seven shutout innings in a 5-0 victory Sunday at AT&T Park. First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PDT.

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