SAN DIEGO -- Johnny Cueto continued his mastery of the Padres with seven strong innings in Sunday's series finale. And, this time, the Giants bullpen made sure a late lead held up.
New closer Mark Melancon slammed the door on a 5-3 victory Sunday afternoon, after Cueto limited the Padres to two runs on five hits while striking out seven. Of San Francisco's five losses, four featured blown leads, and things got dicey late after the Giants jumped in front, 5-0. But Melancon got Wil Myers to bounce into a game-ending double play, securing the Giants' second win.
For the Giants, who finished 2-5 on their two-city, season-opening trip, the transition from the sixth to the seventh inning was a key juncture. Cueto threw 28 pitches while allowing two runs in the sixth inning, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy figured he was done. But Cueto asked Bochy to let him stay in the game, and the result was a scoreless seventh.
"Johnny knows himself," Bochy said. "I trust these starters. They let me know when they're done or if they have some gas left. He's one of the elite pitchers in the game."
Padres left-hander Clayton Richard was done in by a three-run third in which he allowed back-to-back home runs to Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. Otherwise, Richard was mostly solid over six innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits.
Even the two home run balls weren't poorly placed pitches. Richard got Pence leaning onto his front foot with a two-strike breaking ball below the zone. Pence somehow managed to hit it out anyway. Then, Posey took a sinker at the knees and sent it to the opposite field for his first home run of the season.
"[Richard] was better than the line's going to read, for sure," said Padres manager Andy Green. "You occasionally have to look at the opposition and think, 'Wow, they really hit two pretty good pitches out of the ballpark today.'"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Out of left field: Entering play Sunday, Giants left fielders had been held hitless through the first six games of the season. Chris Marrero changed that with an RBI knock in the second inning, giving San Francisco an early lead. His single plated Posey, and the ensuing throwing error by Padres right fielder Hunter Renfroe allowed Brandon Crawford to score as well.
Said Marrero of his ice-breaking hit, "That's baseball. What can you do? Things just take a little while to come."
Wil power: A year ago, Myers set the single-season record for homers at Petco Park with 18. He notched his first home dinger (second overall) when he turned on a Cueto fastball in the sixth and put it into the first level of the Western Metal Building. The Padres loaded the bases later in the frame, but Cueto escaped by getting Erick Aybar to pop to third.
"He's a very talented player. That's kind of what he does. He makes you scratch your head." -- Richard on Pence's home run
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: San Francisco will play its 60th home opener and 18th at AT&T Park on Monday by hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won three out of four from the Giants last week. Left-hander Matt Moore will start for the Giants in the 1:35 p.m. PT encounter.
Padres: The Padres head to Colorado on Monday for a reunion with former skipper Bud Black, who currently helms the Rockies. First pitch is slated for 5:40 p.m. PT. Right-hander Trevor Cahill was expected to start, but he was placed on the disabled list Sunday with a lower back strain. Jarred Cosart will replace him.