AT&T PARK — Barry Zito, as he has done in many of his home starts, kept the Giants in the game.
But the Padres’ most unlikely hero was Tuesday night’s starting pitcher Andrew Cashner, whose squeeze bunt in the 13th inning lifted San Diego to a 5-3 win over the Giants.
The loss really could be described as torture based on the following facts: The game took 4 hours, 35 minutes to play; the Giants dropped to fourth place in the division; it was the team’s third straight defeat; and, the Padres have won seven in a row, and it was manager Bud Black’s milestone 500th victory.
The good news, the Giants are only 1-1/2 games back of Arizona for first place in the National League West.
The Giants certainly had their chances after taking the lead in the fourth inning. San Francisco scored three runs on four hits. Brandon Belt and Hector Sanchez each with run scoring singles through the hole at second base into right field. Joaquin Arias added a sacrifice fly.
Unfortunately that would be the extent of the Giants offense until they nearly won the game in the 12th inning, when Juan Perez was robbed of a game-winning hit by Will Venable.
The inning began with a single to center by Belt who was sacrificed to second. Pinch-hitter Andres Torres struck out, bringing up Perez, who hit a rocket to the outfield. Venable raced to the center field fence and made a tremendous diving catch with his back to the infield to keep the game tied:
Giants center fielder Juan Perez
Video: CSN Bay Area
“The winning run is at second and I’m trying to hit a line drive up the middle. I put a good swing on the ball and the guy made an unbelievable catch man, you’ve got to tip your cap. I saw it the whole way, it was the last out of the inning and if it drops we won the game and I saw it all the way. He made a great catch.”
The Padres scored on an RBI double in the third inning by Chris Denorfia. They added a run in the sixth on a wild pitch by Jean Machi and later tied the game on a run-scoring single by Chase Headley in the seventh inning.
What makes the loss especially painful is that San Diego left 17 men on base, wasting a great effort by the Giants bullpen.
In the 13th, the Padres had runners at the corners and nobody out. Tuesday night’s starting pitcher Andrew Cashner pinch-hit for reliever Nick Vincent and laid down a perfect squeeze bunt allowing Alexi Amarista to score.
Kyle Blanks followed with a single to right loading the bases. Initially ruled a double, Bruce Bochy went out to argue the call and when he was satisfied with the correct ruling, he made a double switch but incorrectly inserted Buster Posey in the pitcher’s spot.
That meant Posey would have batted eighth in the order in the bottom of the inning, a mistake the Giants manager later admitted to in his post-game press conference:
Giants manager Bruce Bochy
Video: CSN Bay Area
“I messed up the double switch, I got distracted and was upset. I was out there arguing and I totally brain cramped on that. …He was available to pinch hit off the bench and would have led off but once I told him wrong I can’t take it back. That shouldn’t happen but it did. It didn’t change the game any but still we’re hoping to have him in the right spot and if that’s a one run game, he would have led off.”
The Padres scored an insurance run on Jake Dunning’s walk to Yasmani Grandal with the bases loaded.
The Giants debuted a first of its kind social media cafe behind the center field bleachers. Inside the cafe, there is a 12-foot by 4-foot video wall displaying Giants trending Tweets, results from Facebook polls and check-ins, and popular Instagram photos.
The 13 inning game was the longest by the Giants this season. The prior longest contest was 12 innings on April 27 at San Diego. … The Giants have lost four straight to the Padres. … Zito pitched 5-2/3 innings with a season high eight strikeouts, his most since he struck out 10 on Aug. 6, 2010 vs. Atlanta. … Perez is 7-for-16 with two RBI and three assists in six games. … Black’s 500 wins is second on the Padres all-time wins list. Bochy tops the list with 951 victories between 1995-2006. … Denorfia is batting .358 (48-for-134) against the Giants since 2010, the highest average against San Francisco.