SAN DIEGO -– The Giants approached a full assembly when their starting lineup took the field Friday night.
By the end of a 5-0 loss to the San Diego Padres, though, several major parts had flown off and they were leaking vital fluids.
And their chances of catching the Los Angeles Dodgers might have gone up in smoke.
Tim Hudson’s struggles continued in a four-run first inning, Angel Pagan’s back held up for just five innings, Michael Morse lasted four fewer than that and everyone else was mesmerized by Odrisamer Despaigne’s slow stuff as the Giants’ deficit in the NL West reached 3 ½ games.
And now, the question: Who the heck pitches against Clayton Kershaw in Wednesday’s series finale at Dodger Stadium?
That is Hudson’s next turn, and given the way he began Friday night, you wondered if the Giants would have been better off skipping the 39-year-old to get extra rest and treatment on his sore hip. They could’ve started Tim Lincecum, instead, and hoped for more of that anti-Padre magic he seems to possess. (He struck out two in two scoreless relief innings.)
Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Joe Panik had the Giants’ only two hits through six innings against Despaigne. They finished with three overall. The return of Brandon Belt and Morse had negligible impact. You can’t win when you don’t score.
The Giants’ mathematical odds of making the postseason did increase, though, with the Milwaukee Brewers’ loss. The Giants are up 5 ½ games on the Brewers in the wild card standings with nine to play. The bad news: the Brewers lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are now just one game behind the Giants in the wild card chase.
The wild card team with the best record earns home-field advantage for the knockout game. Should the Giants and Pirates finish with identical records, though, the game would be played in Pittsburgh because the Pirates hold the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the regular-season series with the Giants.
Starting pitching report
Hudson is battling a sore right hip. He had left hip discomfort earlier this season. He was coming off the shortest outing of his career, when he faced 11 batters and allowed eight hits to the Dodgers.
But he was cleared to start Friday after throwing a side session in Arizona and pronouncing himself good to go.
It did not go well. Yangervis Solarte hit a leadoff single to put Hudson in the stretch right away. Another single and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Hudson got away with a pitch down the middle that Seth Smith popped up, but Alexi Amarista hit a two-run double and Cameron Maybin followed with a two-run single to give the Padres a quick four-run lead.
It took a pickoff throw to get Hudson out of the first inning and make Lincecum take a seat in the bullpen. Hudson found a way to throw more of his two-seamers down and on the hands of right-handed hitters after that, although Pablo Sandoval’s error and Smith’s double led to another run in the third.
Hudson was pulled after allowing a one-out double to Grandal in the fifth. He was charged with five runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two.
Hudson had a 2.90 ERA entering September and a .256 opponent’s average. In four starts since then, he has a 9.92 ERA and opponents are hitting .380 off him.
At 9-12, Hudson matched his career high for losses in a season. He is now guaranteed to finish with the first losing record in his 16-year career.
Lincecum warmed up twice but it was Javier Lopez who replaced Hudson in the fifth, ostensibly because the pitcher’s spot was due to lead off in the sixth and manager Bruce Bochy had hoped to give Lincecum more than a piece of an inning.
Lopez struck out two batters and then Lincecum did what he usually does against the Padres. He retired all six batters he faced, striking out two in the sixth before navigating a clean seventh.
At the plate
The Giants might have rushed Brandon Belt into the lineup after one day of live batting practice against minor leaguers, but they had to know where their first baseman’s timing was at before the next showdown series at Dodger Stadium.
Belt, who was making his first start since Aug. 6 following a recurrence of concussion symptoms, struck out looking, grounded out to short and grounded out to second base.
Morse, who hadn’t played since Aug. 31 because of a strained oblique, pinch-hit in the sixth inning and struck out swinging. He went to the outfield as part of a defensive switch involving Pagan, who had missed the previous three games with back irritation and grimaced when he took a swing in the first inning.
Morse played only one inning in the field, exiting as part of another double-switch with Juan Perez entering the game.
Panik had the only two hits in Despaigne’s six innings. The closest they came to scoring was when Sandoval’s deep drive in the first inning landed 10 feet foul in the first inning.
At least a high and tight pitch in the ninth to Buster Posey, which easily could have resulted in a Giancarlo Stanton-type injury, did not turn into anything major. Posey was able to recoil away from R.J. Alvarez’s pitch, which ended up hitting him on the elbow guard.
Sandoval’s error was his second in two games. He had a 73-game errorless streak from mid-May to late August.
The Padres announced 34,472 paid. Parts of the ballpark were very Orange Friday-like.
The Giants and Padres continue their three-game series at Petco Park on Saturday. Yusmeiro Petit (5-4, 3.64 ERA) takes the mound against Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner (4-7, 2.20). First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PDT.