Sanchez tagged with hard-luck loss

Sanchez tagged with hard-luck loss

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants' third consecutive one-run defeat wasn't just another in a series. It was a singular performance, as singular as the lone hit they allowed.

That's right. Despite Jonathan Sanchez's excellence, which is fast becoming typical, the Giants lost, 1-0, Tuesday night to the San Diego Padres. It was the Giants' first defeat in 24 one-hit efforts since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy expressed what doubtlessly was on the minds of many observers by saying, "There's no way we should have lost tonight's game."

Bochy was referring mainly to the Giants' persistent floundering on offense that helped generate their ninth loss in their last 11 games at PETCO Park. They went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position to run their three-game total in those situations to 1-for-25.

"This is all on the offense today," first baseman Aubrey Huff said.

Huff also has sensed a sagging attitude among his teammates since Manny Ramirez's two-run, eighth-inning homer Sunday at Los Angeles launched the Giants' losing streak.

"It seems like that took the wind out of a lot of the boys," Huff said. "You can definitely feel it's not as much fun the last three days in the dugout. Have a good time and play baseball. Our guys are squeezing the bat too hard in those situations with [runners on] third base and less than two outs. We just have to relax, enjoy it and want to be in those positions."

Bochy acknowledged that his ballclub is anxious at the plate.

"They're trying, maybe too hard right now," he said. "You get in this rut, you press."

Padres starter Mat Latos (1-1) lasted seven innings and retired the last 12 Giants he faced, but before and after that, they repeatedly squandered scoring opportunities.

Eli Whiteside doubled leading off the third inning but was thrown out trying to advance on Sanchez's sacrifice-bunt attempt. Eugenio Velez's single preceded Edgar Renteria's second double-play grounder of the evening.

Pablo Sandoval lashed his second single to open the fourth inning but was stranded on third base when Padres second baseman David Eckstein dove to snare John Bowker's broken-bat bloop to shallow center field.

Facing reliever Mike Adams, Nate Schierholtz tripled to christen the eighth before Whiteside grounded out, pinch-hitter Bengie Molina popped up and Velez took a called third strike.

Sandoval coaxed a one-out walk from Padres closer Heath Bell in the ninth before Huff singled pinch-runner Andres Torres to third base. But Juan Uribe, who homered off Bell to forge a ninth-inning tie Monday, hit a fly to right field that was too shallow to score Torres. Bell then fanned Bowker on a wicked slider to seal the Padres' fifth victory in a row, which pulled them into a first-place tie with the Giants in the National League West.

Even what went right for the Giants turned out wrong. Chase Headley led off San Diego's fourth inning with its only hit, a clean single to center field, and stole second base. Kyle Blanks lifted a foul popup that Huff caught while tumbling into the first-base photographers' well.

"That's definitely a death trap right there," Huff said.

As Huff struggled to regain his footing and make sure he was still in one piece, Headley tagged up and advanced to third base. That enabled him to score on Scott Hairston's sacrifice fly.

Sanchez (1-1) provided whatever consolation the Giants could derive from this game with his seven sterling innings. He amassed 10 strikeouts, his second consecutive double-digit total.

The left-hander's most fascinating inning was the second, when he walked the bases loaded but escaped by striking out the side.

Sanchez reduced his ERA to 1.86 while maintaining his spell over the Padres, whom he no-hit last July 10. In his last four starts against San Diego, Sanchez has compiled a 1.98 ERA while allowing six hits and striking out 29 in 27 1/3 innings.

"I'm throwing any pitch on any count," Sanchez said, explaining his success. "Before, I'd throw fastballs 90 percent of the time."

Responding to a question from a San Diego-based reporter, Sanchez said that his stuff in this game was similar to the prowess he possessed in his no-hitter. Reminded that he said the same thing after his previous start, when he yielded Pittsburgh three hits in eight shutout innings last Wednesday, Sanchez grinned and said, "Kind of the same game, huh?"

It was indeed kind of the same game, with a fresh, cruel twist or two for the Giants.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.