Rewind: Giants vs. Padres, Game #1

The San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres, entering Monday night's series opener tied at 3½ games behind the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, began a pivotal four-game series with a tense battle for sole possession of second place.

Southpaw Kirk Rueter, with good career numbers against the Padres, squared off against San Diego's young star Jake Peavy, who had allowed just one earned run to the Giants in 21 innings pitched against them this season.

Both pitchers were sharp through the early part of the game, working in and out of jams. The Giants put runners at the corners in their half of the second inning, but failed to score. The Padres – with a bunt single, a walk, and help from Giants' shortstop Deivi Cruz, who booted what looked to be a double play ball – loaded the bases against Rueter with one out in the third. However, hopes of a hometown rally were promptly squashed, as Phil Nevin immediately fell into an 0-2 hole before grounding into an inning-ending double play.

After four scoreless in San Diego, the Padres finally broke through with two runs in the fifth. Rueter walked Peavy to open the inning, a mistake that came back to haunt him when his 3-2 fastball to Khalil Greene ended up in the left field bleachers. Greene's sixth home run of the year gave San Diego a temporary 2-0 lead.

Their advantage didn't last long, however. Peavy took a no-hitter into the sixth, but found his third shot at the Giants' lineup significantly more difficult than either of his first two. After Ray Durham was ejected from the game for arguing a called third strike from home plate umpire Mark Wegner , Michael Tucker lined a clean single into right field to break up the no-hit bid for Peavy. Edgardo Alfonzo followed Tucker's base hit with a ground-rule double that bounced up into the seats in the left field corner, putting runners at the corners with one out. Padres' manager Bruce Bochy elected to walk Barry Bonds intentionally to load the bases for JT Snow, who entered Monday's game with outstanding career numbers against Peavy. Snow continued his success, singling sharply back up the middle and into center field for a run-scoring single. With one run in and the bases still loaded, AJ Pierzynski kept the rally going with an RBI single of his own, tying the game at two apiece. The bases remained loaded for Marquis Grissom, and Bochy decided that it was time to pull his young, imploding starter. The call was made to the bullpen for right-hander Scott Linebrink, and a good call it proved to be, as he struck out Grissom on three pitches before retiring Cruz for the last out of the inning.

And so the Giants and Padres entered the late inning tied at two, and San Francisco failed to score in the top of the seventh. Felix Rodriguez, who came on in relief of Rueter to retire the last batter of the sixth inning, did not fare as well in the last of the seventh. After walking Ryan Klesko on four straight balls, he surrendered a single to Phil Nevin and found himself with a runner on either side. With left-handed slugger Brian Giles looming on deck, Felipe Alou went to the bullpen and called on lefty specialist Scott Eyre. Eyre got Giles to fly out to center field, but the ball was deep enough to score Klesko, who tagged up at third base to score the go-ahead run for the Padres.

Down by a run going into the eighth, the Giants looked to rally with Bonds leading off the inning. Predictably, he walked – and, with Snow at the bat, stole second – but the middle of the Giants' order could not bring him in, and the score remained 3-2 in favor of the Padres.

Struggling reliever Matt Herges provided quality relief for San Francisco in the home half of the eighth, keeping the deficit at a run with an economic 1-2-3 inning.

However, the Giants' fortunes did not look good to begin the ninth inning. When the haunting chords of AC/DC's "Hell's Bell's" began to echo through Petco Park, a new round of ‘Trevor Time' began in San Diego and the imposing presence of lights-out closer Trevor Hoffman was enough to silence the San Francisco bats. Neither a duo of pinch hitters nor the Giants' crafty, slappy Neifi Perez could execute against Hoffman as the Giants went down without a fight in the ninth to fall to third place in the National League West.

SFDugout's Player of the Game: Kirk Rueter deserved a much better fate in a game in which he pitched 5 2/3 innings of gutsy baseball. He has been looking more and more like the Kirk Rueter of old, and Monday night continued to show promise with a courageous 105-pitch effort. He pitched in and out of self-constructed jams and around defensive miscues, making quality pitches when most crucial and, despite allowing ample baserunners, giving up only two runs.



Stephanie Moy is a diehard Giants fan, born and raised in the city by the bay. She welcomes comments, questions, criticism and praise at a_hole_in_the_bucket@hotmail.com.

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