San Francisco Giants

It’s a ‘battle’ for Chris Heston in Giants’ 9-1 loss

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Chris Heston on the mound in the first inning of their baseball game against the San Diego Padres Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in San Francisco.
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Chris Heston on the mound in the first inning of their baseball game against the San Diego Padres Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in San Francisco. AP

The Giants entered Wednesday’s series finale against the Padres on an unprecedented run of good pitching: For the first time in the San Francisco era, they had thrown three consecutive shutouts while allowing no more than four hits in any of those games.

Both marks fell in a third inning in which the Padres jumped right-hander Chris Heston for five runs on six hits, coasting from there to a 9-1 win at AT&T Park. That snapped a streak of 29 scoreless innings by Giants pitching. Seven consecutive Padres reached base in the inning, some on line drives to the outfield but others on grounders that found their way through the Giants’ infield.

Ground balls are Heston’s specialty, and the right-hander said afterward: "That’s one of those things that comes with a sinker-baller; those ground balls are going to find holes at certain times in games. It was kind of a rough inning there and led to some runs. But you just gotta keep pitching."

Heston did, grinding out two more scoreless innings. But he departed having allowed five runs on 11 hits and three walks in just five innings.

"Some pitches you tip your cap," Heston said, "and some pitches I definitely made some mistakes I need to re-evaluate and get better on."

Heston said he was comfortable working with backup catcher Andrew Susac, who caught him often in the minors, and that the two might not have made the necessary adjustments to the Padres’ hitters in the third inning.

"It was a battle from the start for him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He did battle, though."

* The Giants had their five-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time on the homestand. Bochy summed it up as "an off-day" for the team. By the time Jean Machi entered in the eighth and allowed three runs, much of the announced crowd of 41,060 had left their seats, anyway.

Machi had allowed just one run in his previous 12 outings. But he walked the first two hitters of the eighth before a Jedd Gyorko RBI double, a run-scoring fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly, and departed with two outs in the inning having thrown 31 pitches.

Bochy said he’s "not worried" about Machi -- but he did say he wanted to stay away from Yusmeiro Petit on Wednesday. Petit ended up having to mop up in the ninth inning after Jeremy Affeldt finished the eighth.

* Brandon Belt remains at zero home runs for the season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Belt doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth inning Wednesday, and then two innings later crushed a ball off the furthest archway in right-center, above the 421-foot marker. That is -- Belt probably hit the ball farther than 420 feet, and settled for a triple.

"He smoked that one," Bochy said. "That’s our park. And triples, they work too."

Just not on this day: Belt was stranded both times. The Giants had runners on second and third with one out after his double, but Brandon Crawford popped out and Justin Maxwell struck out. After Belt’s two-out triple in the sixth, Crawford struck out. In all, the Giants went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

"Their guy pitched well," Bochy said of Padres starter Ian Kennedy. "He shut us down."

* Tomorrow’s print story is on Matt Duffy taking advantage of consecutive starts at third base while Casey McGehee gets a break to "catch his breath." Bochy after the game was noncommittal about whether Duffy has earned himself more playing time. That story can be found here.

Duffy, meanwhile, was asked after the game about McGehee and said it’s tough to watch a teammate go through the kind of struggles McGehee is experiencing now. Duffy’s full answer:

"One hundred percent (it’s difficult). We’ve all been there. And he works so hard. Anytime a teammate’s struggling, you don’t want that for anybody. And also, you want what’s best for the team. He’s a very good player, we all know that, we’ve all seen glimpses of it. Anytime somebody’s pressing -- or you’d have to ask him what exactly is going on, but you never want to see that with anybody.

"I think we’re at our best if we’re both producing -- he’s starting and producing, and I’m pinch-hitting and producing. The more guys you have playing well, the better off you are as a team. So both, you feel for him personally and for the team.

"And ultimately it’s just, he’s a good person, and he works hard. When somebody works that hard you’re going to feel for them when things aren’t going their way. If it was a lazy guy or a bad person … but that makes it even harder when somebody’s just a good person."

* Out with the Padres and in with the Marlins. Michael Morse will get his World Series ring on the field Thursday before the opener of a four-game series. One other interesting note: Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will be making his first regular-season appearance at AT&T Park. In his lone game here, the 2007 All-Star Game, he was the MVP.

The pitching probables:

Thursday: RHP Tim Hudson (1-2, 3.78) vs. RHP Dan Haren (3-1, 2.70)

Friday: RHP Tim Lincecum (2-2, 2.40) vs. RHP Jarred Cosart (1-2, 2.97)

Saturday: LHP Madison Bumgarner (3-1, 3.03) vs. RHP David Phelps (1-0, 3.24)

Sunday: RHP Ryan Vogelsong (1-2, 6.84) vs. RHP Mat Latos (1-3, 5.60)

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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