SAN FRANCISCO — Jake Peavy has played in Boston and Chicago. He has seen how a city can turn on a player who is struggling, and nobody in orange and black had a rougher time over the first six weeks than Peavy.
Peavy, now in his third season in San Francisco, does not play in a ballpark where struggling players are booed. He won’t get heckled at Starbucks or sneered at as he eats dinner. Nonetheless, Peavy had to know that a growing percentage of the fan base had seen enough.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Those are the same fans who were cheering me today. I certainly am frustrated with a lot of my starts. That being said, I don’t think anybody in the clubhouse had any kind of panic.”
Peavy, as he did earlier this month with back-to-back positive starts against the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks, pushed back a bit. He threw 6 2/3 strong innings against the Padres, giving up just one run in a game the Giants would win 4-3 on Brandon Crawford’s walk-off in the 10th. Asked point-blank about the perception that he needed to be pulled from the rotation, Peavy pointed out how long he’s been in the game.
“I’ve been able to be around for 15 years, and it hasn’t all been roses,” Peavy said. “Boston, Chicago, San Diego and now here — you can’t get too high or too low.”
Still, Peavy knew he needed a good one. The schedule gave him the Padres, who are winless in nine games against the Giants this season. Peavy looked more like the guy who came over in 2014 and helped the Giants make the postseason.
“He just looked so determined out there,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Peavy worked around trouble in the early innings, getting help when Kelby Tomlinson threw Yangervis Solarte out at the plate in the first inning. The start in left field was the second of Tomlinson’s professional career, but he made one of the best throws of the season by a Giant. A shortstop’s arm plays in left field, and Tomlinson said instincts took over on a play he hasn’t practiced.
“I didn’t really expect to make that good a throw,” he admitted later.
Said Peavy: “Kelby played his rear end off.”
Tomlinson drove in the first Giants run after a heads-up take of third by Crawford. Matt Duffy added an RBI in the sixth and Denard Span drove in a run in the seventh. All would be needed against the lowly Padres, who fought back late and tied the game on a two-run homer off Josh Osich.
Duffy singled with one out in the 10th and two batters later Crawford blasted a breaking ball off the wall in center. He had faced tough left-hander Brad Hand two nights earlier and struck out.
“His leg kick is a little funky and your timing can get messed up,” Crawford said.
This time, the shortstop focused on “staying short and battling.”
“I wanted to shorten up a bit and maybe not take as much of a swing,” he said.
The smaller swing won the game, although it came too late to get Peavy his second victory. That didn’t seem to bother the veteran, who joked he was just happy to be talking to reporters after a win for once.
This one clinched a third straight sweep over San Diego. A year after they played .500 ball in the division, the Giants are 20-11 against the West. Because of that, they’ll arrive in Denver as one of two National League teams (along with the Cubs) with 30 wins. They walked out of the park Wednesday with a five-game lead in the division.
“You’ve got to win in the division, you’ve got to take care of those games because you know you can get a game (on your division rival),” Peavy said. “Up to this point, we’ve played very well in the division. We’ve had a couple of hiccups, but for the most part we’ve played well.”
--- Sergio Romo threw a scoreless inning in Sacramento, striking out one. He will pitch again on Friday.