SAN DIEGO — When Wil Nieves made his Major League debut on July 21, 2002, Jake Peavy was the Padres pitcher. Peavy surely enjoyed that day together more than Sunday.
Nieves hit a spinning slider into the left field seats with two outs in the fourth inning and the grand slam propelled the Padres to a 6-4 win. The offseason champs took three of four from the World Series champs over the weekend. The Giants finished 3-4 on their season-opening road trip.
Peavy was making his first start of the season after spending a couple weeks dealing with back tightness. He got off to a good start, striking out the first two Padres he faced, but the wheels came off in a long fourth inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out. After blowing a fastball by Alexi Amarista, Peavy made the mistake to Nieves, who got his first career grand slam at the age of 37.
The Giants inched closer with runs in the sixth and seventh, but the Padres responded with a run each time. They've turned games into seven-inning affairs, and Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel easily closed this one out.
Starting pitching report: In all his years with the Padres, Peavy had just four starts at Petco Park that lasted four innings or fewer. His first start here as a visitor lasted four innings. Peavy was charged with four earned runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out five and had better stuff than he did late in the spring, but his command was spotty and the breaking ball flattened out a few times.
Bullpen report: This group must be gassed, because Bruce Bochy made a curious decision in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, a runner on third and the Giants down a run, Bochy pulled back pinch-hitter Angel Pagan and let Yusmeiro Petit hit for himself. Petit, a .049 career hitter, struck out and went on to give up two runs in the next two innings.
At the plate: After scoring three runs in the first three games of this series, the Giants fared a little better against the Bay Area’s Tyson Ross. He gave up three in six innings, but a little bad luck kept the Giants from tying the game in the seventh. Nori Aoki hit a leadoff single and got a great jump on a hit-and-run, but Joe Panik popped out softly to short on the pitch and Aoki was easily doubled off. With the Giants trailing by two and the bases now cleared, Buster Posey crushed the very next pitch over the left field wall.
In the field: The Giants knew Justin Maxwell had pop in his bat and good speed for a big guy, but his defense has been a pleasant surprise. Maxwell handled all three outfield spots this spring and made a big time play in right Sunday, leaping at the wall to rob Yangervis Solarte of extra bases.
Attendance: The Padres announced a crowd of 40,184, 3,500 of whom were youth baseball players who marched past the CSN cameras before the pre-game show and frantically waved at a camera that wasn’t on. The Padres say this was the highest-attended four-game series in Petco Park history. I believe them.
Up next: Flags fly forever, people. The Giants will raise their championship flag during a pre-game ceremony on Monday. Chris Heston gets the start, and he’ll become just the second rookie to start the home opener for the Giants. Right-hander Alan “Don’t Call Me Al” Fowlkes did it in 1982 and gave up one earned run over six innings. Fowlkes was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth. His name? Duane Kuiper.