SAN DIEGO – The Giants managed to fill their Easter basket with more than goose eggs before leaving Petco Park.
Buster Posey was their redeemer, hitting a two-run home run in the first inning that made everyone exhale in the visiting dugout. Angel Pagan added a two-run single in the second inning, the bullpen protected a win for Tim Lincecum and the Giants avoided getting swept with a 4-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Oh yeah. There was a pretty big replay, too. Bruce Bochy improved to 3-1 on challenges when umpires overturned an initial safe call at the plate on Xavier Nady in the third inning, taking an important run off the board.
Starting pitching report
For the first time in four tries, Lincecum (0-1) met the minimum standards for a quality start while also picking up his first victory of the season.
He entered with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 18-to-1, and that took a bit of a beating as he issued three free passes while striking out seven in six-plus innings. But he settled down after the third inning and the Padres did all their damage against him in two swings.
A two-out rally flourished in the third when the Padres loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Lincecum fell behind 3-1 to Chase Headley, who roped a challenge fastball for a double down the right field line.
It was a three-run double – for a few moments, anyway. The Giants challenged umpire Mike DiMuro’s call that Xavier Nady was safe at the plate. Sure enough, replays showed that Buster Posey deftly caught Brandon Belt’s on-target relay throw and applied a tag to Nady’s back before the runner’s back leg touched the plate.
The Giants improved to 3-1 on replay challenges and this one was their biggest thus far. Not only did it take a run off the board to make it 4-2 instead of 4-3, but it also ended the inning and saved Lincecum from an even more stressful frame.
Lincecum used the extra fuel to his advantage. He struck out five of the next 10 batters while facing one more than the minimum over the next three innings. Lincecum put down an sacrifice bunt in the seventh, but his afternoon ended in the bottom of the inning when Nick Hundley led off with a home run.
It was the second career home run for Hundley against Lincecum, whom he has faced going back to their Legion ball days.
Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt showed what an important and versatile piece he is. Padres manager Bud Black deployed his two top right-handed hitters on his bench, Chris Denorfia and Jedd Gyorko, and Affeldt retired them anyway.
Affeldt’s presence allowed Bochy to save his true lefty specialist, Javier Lopez, for Will Venable and Seth Smith in the eighth. Lopez lost Venable on a walk, but Santiago Casilla entered and got a double-play grounder to end the inning.
Sergio Romo, who got carded by the security guard when he tried to enter the clubhouse in the morning, nailed down his fifth save in five chances. It was far from routine, though, as he issued a leadoff walk to Chase Headley and then threw a wild pitch.
Romo got three fly outs to strand the tying run at second base, although he got away with a cement mixer that Hundley hit off the end of the bat to left field.
It helps when you’re lucky AND good. Romo hasn’t allowed a run in seven outings and batters are 1 for 22 against him with eight strikeouts in that span.
At the plate
Posey emerged from a 1-for-24 slide by jumping on Robbie Erlin’s first pitch in the first inning. His fourth homer of the season followed a walk to Hunter Pence and gave the Giants a quick 2-0 lead.
The Giants’ bottom of the order loaded the bases in the second inning when Brandon Hicks walked, Brandon Crawford singled and Lincecum drew a walk. Pagan, who has been the Giants’ best hitter with runners in scoring position (8 for 20), followed with his two-run single.
The Giants didn’t score again but it wasn’t for a lack of hard contact.
Second baseman Brandon Hicks hasn’t looked too surehanded at times, but he made a nice pop-up slide as he stopped Alexi Amarista’s grounder to his left and then threw to start a 4-6-3 double play in the third.
The Padres continued to play solid defense as well. Shortstop Everth Cabrera ensured another hitless birthday for Brandon Belt when he snagged a line drive up the middle in the third.
But Nady, the former Giant, made the game’s most sensational play when he chased down Gregor Blanco’s drive and caught it while banging into the right field wall to end the eighth.
The Padres announced 25,035 paid. Does anyone wear Easter bonnets anymore?
The Giants begin a three-game series at Coors Field on Monday. Ryan Vogelsong (0-0, 5.40 ERA) takes the mound against Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (0-3, 7.58). First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PDT. It’ll be Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 3.48) vs. left-hander Franklin Morales (1-1, 4.82) on Tuesday and Matt Cain (0-3, 2.88) vs. right-hander Tyler Chatwood (1-0, 2.77) on Wednesday.