SAN FRANCISCO – BatKid threw out the first pitch, but the Giants offense continued to show off the coolest utility belt.
They demonstrated this improved offense can work just fine on the shores of McCovey Cove, and they don’t even need to clear the arcade to make the quarters spill into the tray.
They followed up Brandon Belt’s first-inning home run with plenty of smart and aggressive baserunning in their home opener and it led to plenty of two-out rallies against the overwhelmed Arizona Diamondbacks.
Tim Hudson did what any conscientious hunter would do, using the entire carcass and wasting nothing in eight strong innings as the Giants treated a sellout crowd to a 7-3 victory Tuesday afternoon.
Starting pitching report
It’s not easy to face the same major league lineup twice in a week, but make an exception for Hudson and the Diamondbacks.
Hudson (2-0) didn’t need to reinvent himself or add a new wrinkle against them. For one, he’s 38 years old and crow’s feet are enough. For another, he entered 8-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 12 career starts against Arizona.
Hudson was just as tough Tuesday afternoon as he was last week at Chase Field, when he fired seven shutout innings. The Diamondbacks scored an unearned run in the second inning after second baseman Brandon Hicks threw wildly while trying to turn the pivot on a potential double-play grounder. Arizona got a legitimate run in the fourth when Paul Goldschmidt hit a leadoff double and scored on Miguel Montero’s sacrifice fly. They picked up one more in the eighth when Tony Campana hit a pinch triple and scored on a ground out.
Hudson held the Diamondbacks to those three runs on seven hits in eight innings while picking up his 207th career victory, which leads all active pitchers.
In his Giants home debut, Hudson wasn’t afraid to use the ballpark to his advantage. Usually a ground-ball machine with his sinker, Hudson got nearly as many outs in the air (nine, including a line drive that resulted in Miguel Montero being doubled off first base in the sixth inning) as he did on the ground (10, including three in a quick seventh inning).
For the second consecutive start, he did not issue a walk.
Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth, and these non-save victories will make it a lot easier for Bochy to keep from overusing Sergio Romo.
At the plate
The Giants are averaging 5.8 runs in eight games and they continue to do nearly all their damage with two outs.
Belt didn’t bother waiting for a clutch moment. Following Angel Pagan’s leadoff walk, Belt swatted a 2-1 sinker from Trevor Cahill over the right field wall for his fifth home run to tie Arizona’s Mark Trumbo for the NL lead.
Pagan sparked the Giants again when he doubled to start the third and Belt singled to put runners at the corners. Buster Posey followed with an RBI single and the Giants used their legs to make the most of what became a three-run rally. Hunter Pence hit into a fielder’s choice and stole second base, then raced home the final 180 feet when Michael Morse coaxed a two-run single through the right side. Morse gave a huge fist pump after he gave the Giants a 5-1 lead.
The Giants struck for two more in the fifth, creating a rally from scratch with two outs and the bases empty. Pence walked and Morse lofted a fly ball to deep left field. Trumbo drifted and drifted but couldn’t make a play on a catchable ball, which bounced off the track for a ground-rule double. Giants manager Bruce Bochy shrewdly inserted pinch runner Gregor Blanco, who then raced home from second base on Brandon Crawford’s two-run single.
Pagan also singled in the fourth, and not only has he hit safely in all eight games this season, but six have been multi-hit affairs.
Worried about Morse’s defense in left field? You could have Trumbo.
The Giants announced 42,166 paid, and with the caveat that some facts are more malleable than others, it was the Giants’ 247th consecutive regular-season sellout dating to 2010. BatKid kept the peace.
The Giants and Diamondbacks continue their three-game series at AT&T Park on Wednesday. Tim Lincecum (0-0, 6.00 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Bronson Arroyo (0-0, 4.15). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT.