Clayton Richard and the Padres came into Friday against the Giants knowing that, by the end of the night, one of two streaks they were riding would likely come to an end. San Diego was on a five-game losing skid, and Richard had won three consecutive decisions.
On the back of six shutdown innings from Richard (W, 7-6, 4.14 ERA), the Padres (35-43) sent their losing streak to its demise in front of 40,546 at AT&T Park as the Giants (38-39) managed just three hits off Richard to stick Chris Stratton (L, 8-5, 4.14 ERA) with the 6-2 loss.
Basking in the afterglow of a three-hit shutout from Madison Bumgarner the night before, the Giants were unable to make heads or tails of Richard, who entered Friday with a 2.95 ground ball to fly ball ratio, second only to Ty Blach in the majors.
Richard gave up loud contact to both Gorkys Hernández and Buster Posey to open up the bottom of the first inning. Both launched rockets to the deepest part of center field; Hernández’s fell in for two bags, and while Posey’s found a glove, it moved Hernández to third base, ultimately allowing him to score on a wild pitch a batter later for a 1-0 lead.
But the Padres mimed the Giants in the next inning when Cory Spangenberg and Manuel Margot both managed hard contact off Stratton too. After Spangenberg doubled to center and moved to third on a Freddy Galvis grounder, Margot roped a double to left to get the Padres on the board and tie it 1-1.
Stratton contained the Padres for the better part of six innings, limiting them to the one run. But Spangenberg again led off the sixth with a knock, this time a single, though it could have just as soon been an out.
Posey stopped a bullet down the first base line, and a brief hesitation on Stratton’s part in hustling to cover first was enough to allow the speedy Spangenberg to beat out the play.
The Padres ended up adding more runs than this out could have prevented, though Stratton felt it was the difference in the game:
“I thought the biggest play of the game was me not getting over to first base there. My thought was that it was probably going to be foul, but Buster made a heck of a play there. You just can’t be late.”
“That ended up creating a a big inning there and ended up losing us the game, so that one is 100 percent on me. Just a little bit of late reacting and Spangenberg’s got some good speed … it doesn’t matter if it’s foul or not, you gotta start heading that way.”
Galvis followed with another single, moving Spangenberg to third. Then, with Margot at the plate, Stratton uncorked a wild pitch. With Galvis trying to advance, Nick Hundley sailed his throw into center field to add to the mayhem, allowing Spangenberg to score.
Margot went on to join the singles party himself, slapping a grounder to left and scoring Galvis as well, to give the Padres a 3-1 lead.
Of the chaotic play, Stratton said:
“Hundo did a great job back there today, I hate that I throw a 50-foot curveball and it ends up going off his mask. We were trying to make a play there and he made two great blocks to save the guy getting [home] from third. I hate that [the error] ends up being the ruling, but he did a great job.”
After the first, Richard was nearly untouchable. He allowed only two more hits, a second double to Hernández in the sixth on which the Giants couldn’t cash in, and a single from McCutchen in the seventh, which prompted the hook from Padres manager Andy Green.
Bochy tipped his cap to Richard’s work on the mound against his starting nine:
“He’s been throwing the ball well. He gets a lot of movement on that sinker. He’s got the breaking ball, the changeup and you know he keeps it down and we smothered a lot of balls. He’s been on a pretty good roll.”
In the seventh, things got weird. Green replaced Richard with righty Adam Cimber, leading Bruce Bochy to pinch-hit lefty Brandon Belt for Hundley. After Cimber struck out Belt, Green made a second pitching change, bringing in left-hander José Castillo to face Brandon Crawford.
Castillo induced a foul out on one pitch from Crawford, but despite the fact that Castillo spent more pitches warming up than he did getting Crawford out, Green made yet a third pitching change, this time bringing in Craig Stammen, naturally, a righty, to face Mac Williamson.
With no fourth reliever warming up, Stammen allowed McCutchen to steal second before walking Williamson, bringing up Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval swatted a single to right to get the Giants within a run of the Padres at 3-2.
But the Giants failed to do any more, and the Padres added three insurance runs in an ugly ninth inning. Pierce Johnson walked the first two batters to lead off the inning, setting up RBI singles from Eric Hosmer and Jose Pirela off Will Smith later in the inning to widen the deficit to 6-2.
The Giants went down in order before Padres closer Brad Hand (S, 22, 2.37 ERA) in the ninth.
Southpaw Andrew Suárez (2-4, 4.70 ERA) will face off with righty Jordan Lyles (2-4, 4.46 ERA) in Saturday’s afternoon game against the Friars, the third of a four-game set. The Giants will celebrate the team’s 2002 World Series run in a pre-game ceremony Saturday, and first pitch will be at 1:05 p.m.
Jeff Samardzija (right shoulder tightness) is feeling “great” after pitching 4 innings in his second rehab start Thursday, according to Bochy. He threw 73 pitches and gave up four hits, two runs and a home run, while striking out seven. Bochy said Samardzija may throw one more rehab start before returning to the rotation to build on his pitch count. The team will announce one way or the other on Saturday.