San Diego Padres’ Orlando Hudson slides and scores past San Francisco Giants catcher Chris Stewart
during the seventh inning Tuesday in San Francisco
By Andrew Baggarly
A year ago, San Diego Padres pitcher Mat Latos became a public enemy in the Bay Area when he bluntly and dimly suggested the Giants were a slapped-together band of mercenaries.
This season, the Giants are slapping on Band-Aids and ice packs. And the hits keep coming.
They scored three runs in the eighth inning Tuesday to tie the score and inject life into a sellout crowd, but that was just a prelude to another uninspiring defeat. The Padres scored twice off Ramon Ramirez in the ninth and sent the Giants to a 7-5 loss that cost their heels to slip in the N.L. West sandbox.
Almost before the cheering crowd could find their seats after Orlando Cabrera’s tying single in the eighth, Nick Hundley lined a leadoff double against Ramirez and Alberto Gonzalez dribbled a single up the middle to bring him home.
The Giants committed three errors to lose for the 17th time in 24 games. They fell two games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, who snapped a six-game losing streak at Washington.
The Giants’ tying, three-run rally in the eighth included the long-awaited return of Carlos Beltran, although he didn’t contribute to it.
The rally began with Brandon Belt’s one-out single and Cody Ross’ double off right-hander Luke Gregerson. Aaron Rowand followed with a chopper that glanced off third baseman Logan Forsythe’s glove for an error. Then switch-hitting catcher Hector Sanchez, sent up to bat for Chris Stewart, singled up the middle for the
first hit and RBI of his big league career. Cabrera followed with a line-drive single to left field that scored the tying run.
The Padres brought in left-hander Joe Thatcher to face Mike Fontenot, giving Giants manager Bruce Bochy the perfect spot to use Beltran off the bench. The switch-hitter is close to 100 percent from the right side, but his left-handed swing remains compromised by a strained right hand.
Beltran dug into the box to a loud ovation, swung and missed at the first pitch and then popped up the next one to shortstop. Miguel Tejada made harder contact off the bench, but his line drive was right at Forsythe to strand two runners.
The Padres almost immediately moved back in front in the ninth against Ramirez, and Padres closer Heath Bell didn’t allow the tying run to come to bat in the ninth.
The Giants have used the disabled list 24 times on 19 players this season, far exceeding the 13 players who served 15 D.L. stints last season. World Series MVP Edgar Renteria was shelved on three separate occasions.
Matt Cain hasn’t been among them, even though his inflamed elbow was one of the major storylines of spring training. He rebounded from the issue to make every start, in addition to the N.L. All-Star team.
But he left pitches at the belt in the early innings and the Giants didn’t play well behind him. In the first inning, right fielder Cody Ross and first baseman Aubrey Huff collided as Jesus Guzman’s foul pop fell to the turf. Guzman followed by punching a two-out single that scored Jason Bartlett.
An apparent blown call greeted Cain in the second inning. The mild-mannered pitcher argued passionately after umpire Rob Drake ruled that he missed first base while covering on Orlando Hudson’s grounder to Huff.
Cain owned the next mistake though — an 0-2 fastball over the middle that big Kyle Blanks crushed into the tunnel down the left field line for a two-run home run.
The Padres tacked on another run in the third when Will Venable hit a leadoff double and scored on Cameron Maybin’s single, which ticked off third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s glove.
The Giants were just as unsupportive at the plate against Latos, who took the mound at AT&T Park for the first time since last year’s regular-season finale, when the Giants beat him to clinch the N.L. West.
This time, the Giants’ weak spots in the lineup cost them in the fourth. Latos issued two-out walks to Huff, Brandon Belt and Ross as he got to Aaron Rowand, who meekly grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Chris Stewart broke up Latos’ no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the fifth, and then it was the Padres’ turn to play sloppy as the Giants rallied for two runs in the sixth.
Sandoval singled and Huff doubled off the arcade to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Belt followed with a grounder to first baseman Jesus Guzman, who stutter-stepped toward the bag as he tried to freeze Sandoval between third and home. When Guzman finally threw home, it was late and very wide. The inexplicably awful play allowed both Sandoval and Huff to score as the Giants trailed 4-2.
But Rowand popped up with one out and Belt at third base, costing the Giants an important run, and Stewart grounded out to end the inning.
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