For Giants, Saturday sucked a very great deal

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For Giants, Saturday sucked a very great deal

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Phillips saw his starting pitcher Johnny Cueto shut down after eight pitches. He heard the crowd at the Thing On King roar their delight. And he copped to the feeling of despair that washed over the one part of the ballpark that wasn't populated by Giants or their faithful customers.

"When Johnny went down, I was like, 'Oh gosh. Oh no. We're done. Why? Why?'" the Cincinnati second baseman said. "It sucked a little bit."

Well, it sucked more than a little bit for the Reds. But as time went on, it started to suck less and less until it didn't really suck at all, except for the Giants. For them, Saturday sucked a very great deal.

BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Reds beat Cain, Giants in Game 1

Phillips was one of several Reds who gave the Giants that general feeling of suck in Game 1 of this National League Division Series. He turned on a delicious and nutritious Matt Cain curve ball to give the Reds a 2-0 lead, he drove in an insurance run in the ninth with a two-out single, he dove to save extra bases on a leadoff single by Giant right fielder Hunter Pence, and he verified what he claimed after the game:

"I'm good on TV."

RELATED: Phillips shines under bright lights

But lots of Reds were good on TV, including manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price. Between their jerryrigging a solution to Cueto's first-inning back spasms, Mat Latos' four-inning relief performance, Jay Bruce's homer, Ryan Ludwick's defense, and mostly from relief pitching, the Reds took a 1-0 lead in the series that feels a lot more like 2-0 or 3-1, and in doing so, they saw to it that the only Giant that looked good was Buster Posey.

In other words, they brought home the suck.

There is no truly elegant alternate way to put it, for this was not an elegant game. It was more a white-knuckler on a 20-seat plane through bad weather and turbulence, and though the box score suggests that the Giants were dominated, what they really endured was a night of vertigo. Cueto to Sam LeCure to Latos to Sean Marshall to Jonathan Broxton to Aroldis Chapman is enough to make anyone's head wobble on its axis, and even though Broxton and Chapman seemed most vulnerable to offensive coercion, the Giants did too little too often to have it matter.

And therein lies the difficulty they face going into Game 2. The only quality at-bat they got with runners in scoring position all night was Cain's line-out to Bruce to end the second. Posey's home run off Latos was the one at-bat that brought the sellout crowd of 43,492 out of its torpor, but it was followed by nothing of substance.

The Giants' offense forced Cain to be perfect, which is not unusual for him or them. But it happened on a night when he plainly wasn't. He missed spots, he left curve balls like the one to Phillips in hittable places ("If he throws a fastball or a cutter, I'm back in the dugout with everyone else"), and he was not dominant on a night when dominance would have barely broken him even.

Suddenly, the onus of the series is squarely on San Francisco. A split is barely tolerable, but it is all the hope the Giants have, and they need Madison Bumgarner to be what Cain was not -- masterful. The Reds, who looked to be in shambles after eight pitches, may still have Cueto for Game 3 against (in all likelihood) Ryan Vogelsong, in which case they have lost nothing at all from a night that looked so . . . well, suckworthy halfway through Marco Scutaro's first at-bat.

Cueto said he feels fine, and Baker said, "You know how back spasms are. When it lets you go, it lets you go when it wants to."

But that's too far away for the Giants. They have to navigate another of Cincinnati's nasty starters, Bronson Arroyo, Sunday or go to Ohio needing a sweep in a park that is not kind to their kind of pitcher, whether it be Vogelsong, Barry Zito or Tim Lincecum.

In short, and with all apologies to the gods of strained metaphors, the suck is already on the other foot.

Pablo Sandoval singles in first at-bat with San Jose Giants

Pablo Sandoval singles in first at-bat with San Jose Giants

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In his first at-bat with the Giants organization in nearly three years, Pablo Sandoval singled to left field against Rancho Cucamonga.

Serving as the designated hitter, Sandoval batted right-handed against Rancho Cucamonga left-handed pitcher Caleb Ferguson.

Sandoval's single followed singles by prospects Steven Duggar and Bryan Reynolds.

Sandoval signed a minor league deal with the Giants on Saturday. He will stay with Single-A San Jose until Triple-A Sacramento returns home from Tacoma.

Hundley comes through late for Giants, pick up walk-off win vs Padres

Hundley comes through late for Giants, pick up walk-off win vs Padres

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SAN FRANCISCO  — Nick Hundley singled in Kelby Tomlinson with two outs in the 12th inning, lifting the San Francisco Giants to a 5-4 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday.

Pinch-hitter Tomlinson reached on a fielder's choice and took second on a wild pitch from Kevin Quackenbush (0-2). After Hunter Pence flied out, Hundley lined an 0-1 pitch over the head of left fielder Jose Pirela as Tomlinson rounded third and scored without a throw.

It was Hundley's fifth game-ending hit of his career and his first since July 11, 2014, with Baltimore.

It was the Giants' second win in the last nine games against their division rivals at AT&T Park.

Eduardo Nunez had three hits and two RBIs, Hundley singled twice and San Francisco took advantage of an error by San Diego shortstop Allen Cordoba that led to three unearned runs.

Will Myers hit his second homer in two days as part of San Diego's four-run fourth but the Padres wasted multiple opportunities and lost for the fourth time in six games.

Josh Osich (3-1) retired five batters and struck out three in getting the win.

One day after the teams played 11 innings in a game that lasted nearly 5 hours, the Giants and Padres had another extended battle.

The Giants left the bases loaded in the sixth and stranded runners at second and third in the eighth.

San Diego got the go-ahead runner to third with two outs in the ninth but came up short when pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez grounded out.

Both teams had the leadoff runner on in the 10th but failed to score.

SEEING TRIPLE:
Luis Perdomo hit his third triple of the season in the fourth inning. The last pitcher to hit three triples in a season was Dontrelle Willis in 2007. Perdomo's three triples this season are the most-ever by a Padre pitcher in team history (since 1969). The Padres have four triples in the first three games of this series.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Padres: INF Erick Aybar was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised left foot. The injury happened Friday night when Aybar fouled a ball off his foot. LHP Buddy Bauman was reinstated from the 60-day DL to take Aybar's spot.

Giants: C Buster Posey was held out of the starting lineup after catching all 11 innings of Friday's game. San Francisco's All-Star struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

UP NEXT:
RHP Dinelson Lamet (3-4, 6.40 ERA) pitches the series finale for San Diego on Sunday while the Giants counter with LHP Ty Blach (6-5, 4.36 ERA). Lamet has had seven or more strikeouts in five of his nine starts this season.