Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
AT&T PARK — Paleo prince Hunter Pence hit a 400-foot-plus home run to go with his new five-year, $90 million contract Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, Pence’s homer and contract were among the few things that went the San Francisco Giants’ way in their next-to-last game of the regular season.
Two costly four-run innings for the visiting San Diego Padres were plenty to sink the Giants 9-3.
Yusmeiro Petit (L, 4-1, 3.56 ERA) notched 50 strikes in 69 pitches on Saturday, but was taken out of the game in the fourth inning after giving up four runs and giving up the Giants’ 3-1 lead.
Manager Bruce Bochy said he felt that Petit had pitched well up until that point:
“He was throwing the ball well. I think the long inning caught up with him. In particular the long at bat (against Tommy Medica,) seemed like that affected him.”
Leadoff man Chris Denorfia took Petit yard on the first pitch he saw; Angel Pagan watched the ball clear the centerfield wall to give San Diego the early 1-0 lead. It was Denorfia’s seventh career leadoff homer.
The Giants retaliated quickly in their half of the first. Pagan led off with a salute-worthy double off the outfield wall off San Diego starter Eric Stults (W, 11-13, 3.93 ERA).
Then with two outs, Pablo Sandoval smacked a liner down the left field line four a double of his own, bringing Pagan home and tying the game 1-1.
Juan Perez got a two-out single in the bottom of the third after a routine the ball rolled under shortstop Logan Forsythe’s glove. Then Pence, who had struck out in his first plate appearance, launched the well over the centerfield fence into the site of the future kale garden, giving the Giants the 3-1 lead.
It was Pence’s 27th homer of the season, the most hit by a Giant since Barry Bonds’ 28 bombs in 2007.
Petit, who had gone three-up-three-down since giving up the leadoff home run, came unraveled in the top of the fourth inning.
Chase Headley hit a two-out double in the Padres half of the fourth, and after a very lengthy 14-pitch plate appearance, Tommy Medica hit a liner straight up the middle to bring Headley home and close the gap 3-2.
Jesus Guzman followed that up with a towering two-run home run over the left field wall to give the Padres a 4-3 lead. Petit couldn’t shut down the tail end of the Padres’ lineup, giving up three consecutive singles and allowing the visitors to gain a 5-3 lead.
Both teams were pretty quiet until the top of the ninth. Reliever Mike Kickham gave up a double to pitch-hitter Will Venable, followed by a back-to-back RBI singles to Denorfia and Forsythe to put the Padres on top 7-3.
Jedd Gyorko then came up to the plate and hit a two-run shot over the 382 marker to sink the Giants into a 9-3 hole.
The Giants and Padres meet up one last time on Sunday for the season finale. A win on Sunday would — although it seems trivial at this time — tie the Giants for third place in the NL West.
When asked if that was something positive to focus on going into the season closer, Bochy told the media:
“Sure… Our philosophy is, do all we can to win every game. Sure it would be nice to win tomorrow… It’s not what we set out to do. But at this point, yeah sure, that would be nice.”
Guillermo Moscoso gets the start Sunday against Tyson Ross and the Padres. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
Even with Saturday’s loss, the Giants have won nine of their last 14 games. … SF is 15-11 (.577) in the month of September, their first winning month since May (14-13). … Juan Perez recorded his eighth outfield assist, which is tied for the second-most among rookies in the NL. Perez has recorded his eight outfield in just 210 innings… Hunter Pence has now started in 170 consecutive games, the longest streak in the National League and the second-longest in the Majors behind Detroit Tiger Prince Fielder (504).