SAN DIEGO – Justin Maxwell came into spring training as a non-roster invitee. But, after a terrific Cactus League, he earned a spot on the 25-man roster. On Thursday, Maxwell delivered his first clutch hit of his Giants’ tenure with a two-out single to center in the top of the 12th inning that scored Brandon Crawford with the winning run as San Francisco defeated San Diego 1-0 at Petco Park.
Before his game-winning hit could happen, San Francisco needed to get a runner into scoring position. Crawford obliged by reaching second when Padre shortstop Clint Barmes mishandled a pop-up in shallow left field. Barmes appeared to pull up as left fielder Justin Upton came racing in.
Santiago Casilla came in and locked up the win in the bottom of the 12th by retiring San Diego in order. It was Casilla’s third save of the season.
The Giants are now 3-1 while the Padres fall to 1-3.
While the game was essentially decided as a result of an error, pitching and defense were on display most of the afternoon.
Right-hander Tim Hudson gave San Francisco a second-straight strong start following rookie Chris Heston‘s performance against Arizona on Wednesday.
The 39-year-old veteran worked 6.1 innings, allowing five hits while walking five and striking out one. The five walks were uncharacteristic for a Hudson start, but the Giants’ defense bailed him out by turning several key double plays.
He escaped his first bit of trouble during the bottom of the second inning.
Juston Upton led off the second with a drive to left-center field that hit the fence. Hudson was able to get the first out of the inning by striking out Will Middlebrooks, who struck out three times. Up next for the Padres was first baseman Yonder Alonso, who reached first base after Hudson uncorked a wild pitch on ball four. Upton moved over to third on the wild pitch and San Diego had the first real threat of the game.
But Hudson wriggled out of trouble by getting Jedd Gyorko to ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
The Padres again started to mount a rally during the bottom of the fifth inning. Middlebrooks and Alonso each singled to start the frame, bring Gyorko up with another chance to drive in a run. The Padre second baseman drilled a ball up the middle that Crawford dove to stop. The talented San Francisco defender flipped the ball with his mitt to Joe Panik, who was able to relay the throw to Jaoquin Arias in time to end the inning. Crawford’s play was one of two that probably saved the game for San Francisco.
While the double play gave the Giants two outs, San Diego still had a chance to score as Middlebrooks advanced to third on the play. Alexis Amarista came to the plate, but San Francisco would not give him an opportunity to record an RBI as he was walked intentionally. With runners on the corners, San Francisco felt better about their chances with Hudson facing Padre pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, who was in the game after San Diego starter Ian Kennedy exited with a left hamstring injury.
Once again Hudson and the Giants escaped trouble as Despaigne grounded back to the pitchers mound to end the inning.
San Diego again mounted a threat in the bottom of the sixth inning as Wil Myers singled to center to start the frame. After Derek Norris flew out to right, Matt Kemp walked to give the Padres runners on first and second with one out and Upton coming to the plate.
Hudson used his sinking two-seam fastball to get Upton to hit a ground ball to Casey McGehee at third. But unlike the second inning, the Giants could not turn the inning-ending double play and San Diego had runners on third and first with two outs.
San Francisco escaped the inning as Middlebrooks lifted a soft fly ball out to Gregor Blanco in right.
Hudson and the Giants were living on the edge for the third-straight inning as the bottom of the seventh began with Hudson walking Alonso. Gyorko popped out for the first out before Amarista singled to left. Alonso raced around to third base on the hit as he was running on a 3-2 count.
Knowing that one run could be the difference in the game, San Diego Manager Bud Black pinch-hit for Despaigne, who had held the Giants in check since relieving Kennedy.
Black tabbed Yangervis Solarte to be the pinch hitter while Giants’ Manager Bruce Bochy countered by calling upon left-hander Jeremy Affeldt out of the bullpen. Affeldt, who has been a key component in the Giants winning three out of the last five World Series, induced Solarte into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Entering the eighth inning, the Giants had to be pleased to see Despaigne no longer in the game, though, San Francisco now faced Padre setup man Jaoquin Benoit.
Blanco promptly welcomed Benoit to the game by lacing a single to right field. Arias sacrificed Blanco to second and pinch hitter Matt Duffy followed with a walk and the Giants were in business. But Benoit settled down, ending the inning on an Aoki fly ball to right and a Panik pop-up to Middlebrooks.
The ninth inning saw fireworks as San Francisco prepared to face Padres’ closer Craig Kimbrel, who is nearly unhittable. To compound matters, Angel Pagan and Norris got into a battle of words at home plate after Pagan’s gum landed in Norris’ catcher’s box. In an attempt to send a message and defend his catcher, Kimbrel buzzed Pagan’s tower with a 97 MPH heather.
But, Pagan had the last word, drilling a Kimbrel fastball to center field for a leadoff triple.
With their best scoring chance in front of them, all San Francisco needed was a deep fly ball or a little bloop single to bring in the first run of the game. But Kimbrel did what he does best, shutting the door by sending the game to extra innings after inducing McGehee into s 6-4-3 double play.
San Diego had a chance to pick up a walk-off win during the bottom of the ninth inning against right-hander Jean Machi. Upton was able to reach first on a McGehee error. After a Middlebrooks strikeout, Upton reached second base on Alonso’s soft grounder to Crawford. Up came Gyorko with a chance to win the game, but Crawford made his second game-saving play, going deep into the hole at short to keep a ball from reaching left, which would have probably scored Upton from second.
Instead, of watching the Padres celebrate a win, the Giants had a chance to head into extra innings.
With Amarista scheduled to bat, Bochy called on Javier Lopez from the bullpen. Black countered with Barmes, who hit a sharp grounder to Crawford, which the Giants shortstop easily handled before throwing on to first for the out.
Neither team really threatened again until the Giants finally broke through in the top of the 12th against San Diego reliever Nick Vincent (0-1).
George Kontos picked up the win for the Giants, working 1.2 innings of one hit ball. He also recorded two strikeouts.
The Giants and Padres meet today at 10:10 p.m. EST. Tim Lincecum will toe the slab for San Francisco while San Diego will counter win Brandon Morrow.
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