SAN DIEGO – The Giants finally found rock bottom Friday night. The San Diego Padres were passed out on top of it.
For the first time since June 18-19, the Giants have themselves an honest to goodness winning streak. Chad Gaudin set aside his legal issues to claim the first victory by a Giants starter other than Madison Bumgarner in 29 days, Buster Posey knocked in five runs and a frustrated offense matched a season high with 17 hits in a 10-1 victory at Petco Park.
The Giants have scored at least four runs in two consecutive games for the first time since June 18-19. Not coincidentally, that also marked the last time they had a winning streak.
Their opponent then? Same as now. The Padres.
The Giants remained 6 ½ games back and in fourth place in the NL West. But at least the cellar no longer belongs to them. The Padres have lost 12 of 13 to fall 8 ½ out.
Hard as it might be to believe, but the Giants’ 26-19 record against NL West teams gives them the highest winning percentage within the division.
Starting pitching report
Gaudin’s bearded visage splashed across every odd news site on the Internet (which is basically the entire Internet) on Wednesday, when the Las Vegas Review Journal reported on that he had been charged with a misdemeanor -- gross lewdness -- stemming from a January arrest. Gaudin is accused of fondling a woman on a gurney in a Las Vegas hospital.
Gaudin’s lawyer released a statement professing his client’s innocence and saying the right-hander was being treated for a rare kidney condition that causes confusion and disorientation.
If Gaudin was distracted, he didn’t show it on the mound. He improved to 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts, further establishing himself as the club’s second most reliable starter after Madison Bumgarner. He has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his six starts this season.
Like Bumgarner a day earlier, Gaudin settled down after the Padres put together a scoring rally in the first inning. Alexi Amarista walked and Chase Headley hit an RBI double to give the Padres a 1-0 lead.
But Gaudin allowed just one runner into scoring position over the next four innings, and that was when pitcher Sean O’Sullivan doubled to start the third. Gaudin struck out Headley and Carlos Quentin to escape.
He needed more help after the Padres loaded the bases in the sixth, though. Gaudin gave up a single to Amarista, then walked Headley and Quentin to end his night.
Gaudin ended up earning the first victory by a Giants starter other than Bumgarner since June 13, when Matt Cain won at Pittsburgh.
There have been plenty of impressive performances from the Giants bullpen this season, but it’s hard to imagine anything matching Jose Mijares’ escape in the sixth.
He inherited bases loaded and no outs. And he got out of it with just eight pitches. Yonder Alonso popped up to shortstop, Jedd Gyorko failed to check his swing on high heat, then pinch hitter Chris Denorfia swung through a slider to end the inning.
Almost the entire team greeted Mijares on the top step of the dugout.
Jake Dunning pitched a scoreless seventh and Jean Machi, who is likely headed back to Fresno to clear a space for Santiago Casilla, finished up the final two innings.
Machi got his first career plate appearance, too. Wearing Mijares’ helmet, he struck out on three Huston Street pitches.
He was Mean Street. He threw Machi two sliders.
At the plate
Posey is having quite a week. He added a five-RBI night to go along to his first career five-hit performance in Monday’s extra-inning loss to the Mets.
The best news for the Giants, though, is that others are starting to show some life. Gregor Blanco scored four runs in a game for the first time in his career. Pablo Sandoval drew a walk for a fifth consecutive game and hit a tying, RBI double in the fifth. And Kensuke Tanaka has hit safely in all four major league games of his career.
Tanaka singled twice, including a perfect bunt for a hit, and his one-out walk started up the Giants’ tiebreaking rally in the sixth. Brandon Crawford, who had been struggling to hit with two sprained fingers, followed with a double (and ended the game with 11 hits in 22 at-bats). After Blanco walked to load the bases, Marco Scutaro’s infield single put the Giants ahead. Then Posey cleaned up with a two-run single.
Posey added a two-run double in the seventh. His sacrifice fly put the Giants on the board in the third inning, too.
Posey finished one short of his career high six RBIs, set in 2010 at Milwaukee.
Oh, and the Giants’ 10 runs equaled the total they scored over five games in hitter’s yards in Denver and Cincinnati on their last road trip.
This game had a little bit of everything, including the Padres’ attempt at the hidden-ball trick. Shortstop Everth Cabrera received a throw from the outfield after Sandoval’s double and kept it in his glove. Then he rushed to tag Sandoval once he strayed off second base.
But Sandoval had called time to give his shinguard to first base coach Roberto Kelly. When time is called, the ball isn’t considered live until the plate umpire points to the pitcher.
Padres manager Bud Black didn’t come out to argue with second base umpire Laz Diaz, but he definitely took issue with a call in the seventh. The Padres caught Tanaka in a rundown between second and third after a pitch momentarily got away from catcher Nick Hundley. Tanaka was on the infield grass when he turned and collided with Headley, the third baseman. Tanaka was awarded third base because of Headley’s obstruction. Black argued long enough that Tanaka was out of the baseline to receive an ejection – which you had to know was coming, given the Padres’ woes.
The Giants were interfered with in the third inning, too – when third base umpire Tim Timmons got in the way. Timmons backpedaled into Crawford while Amarista’s pop fly landed on the chalk line, and then for good measure (or in fairness?), he called it foul. Then play resumed and Timmons had to notice the obvious ball mark on the chalk at his feet – evidence of his blown call. Amarista ended up drawing a walk but Gaudin pitched around it to escape with no damage done.
The Padres announced 42,361 paid – their third sellout of the season. Not even Pacific Coast League throwback uniforms could disguise the way the home team is playing these days, though.
The Giants and Padres continue their four-game series at Petco Park on Saturday. Tim Lincecum (4-9, 4.61 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Edinson Volquez (6-7, 5.33). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PDT.