SAN FRANCISCO — Johnny Cueto’s previous two complete games against the Padres were clinched on the mound. This one became official when Hunter Pence’s pop-up dropped in shallow right field in the bottom of the ninth.
Pence, who had such a sore hamstring during BP that he walked out of the cage, hit a two-out skyscraper to right with Brandon Belt on first. Matt Kemp let it drop and the ball was kicked away, allowing Belt to score the only run in a 1-0 win.
Cueto allowed just two hits. He has given up 13 hits and one run in 27 innings against the Padres this season.
Cueto needed just 33 pitches to get the first nine outs of the game, and he got two quick outs in the fourth. Matt Kemp finally put a Padre on base with a single to right with two outs in the fourth, but Cueto got out of that frame with a grounder back to the mound and continued mowing down Padres.
The Giants lineup, on the other hand, has been in a funk for a couple of weeks, obscured by the fact that the team is winning. In an effort to get his group in gear, Bochy called for a hit-and-run in the first and Matt Duffy executed it perfectly, bouncing a curveball into right field to send Kelby Tomlinson to third. Duffy, however, was immediately picked off first. The Giants again put runners on the corners with one out in the third, but Tomlinson popped up a bunt.
Cueto got through the seventh on just 78 pitches, and that put manager Bruce Bochy in a tough spot in the bottom of the inning. With a runner on second and two outs, the Padres intentionally walked Gregor Blanco to face Cueto. Bochy let his starter hit, and Cueto struck out.
The decision nearly came back to bite the Giants. Cueto drilled Alexei Ramirez with two outs in the eighth and then gave up a single. He got out of the inning by freezing pinch-hitter Yangervis Solarte with a perfect 3-2 fastball on the inner half. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in the bottom half, but after an intentional walk of Buster Posey, Angel Pagan grounded out to second and apparently re-injuring his hamstring on the way. He was replaced in left by Belt.
Starting pitching report: Cueto trails just Clayton Kershaw on the National League’s innings leaderboard. His 2.38 ERA is seventh best in the league.
Bullpen report: Up in Sacramento, Sergio Romo struck out three in his first rehab inning but also gave up a solo homer to Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee’s top prospect.
At the plate: On Sunday, Duffy found a small glitch in his swing, one he hoped he could fix quickly. The third baseman certainly looked like his old self with a hard double to deep right in the eighth.
In the field: Brandon Crawford probably won’t end up on any Top-10 Plays lists tonight, but he showed off just about every aspect of his Gold Glove game. Early on, Crawford snagged a slow Derek Norris grounder up the middle and used perfect footwork to get in position for a strong throw to first.
Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 42,099 human beings, including the two fans who interfered with a ball a few weeks ago and ended up on Jimmy Kimmel’s show. They were seated in the owner’s box and shown on the scoreboard. Because that’ll teach fans not to interfere with balls in play …