SAN FRANCISCO -- Sergio Romo made two of the biggest throws of the Giants’ 2-0 win over the Dodgers on Tuesday night -- one to home plate and one to first base.
Romo entered a 1-0 game with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh and threw a 1-0 slider to Howie Kendrick that induced a harmless comebacker to end the inning. He then returned for the eighth and, with two outs, snapped a throw to first to catch Scott Van Slyke leaving the bag early
"I don’t get too many pickoffs, guys," Romo said afterward.
It was just the second of his major-league career.
It was also the last of four key outs Romo recorded on Tuesday night, the first time he’s pitched more than inning this season. Wanting to stay away from using Jeremy Affeldt, and with Javier Lopez already out of the game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy let Romo start the eighth against Gonzalez -- and stay in to face left-handed Andre Ethier with two outs and Van Slyke on first. Romo was ahead of Ethier, 0-2, when he picked over.
"I came set, normal routine, one second he was there and one second he wasn’t," Romo said. "Got the whole dugout yelling to step off, my teammates were heads-up on it, too. Legitimately I looked and he was there, I looked again and he wasn’t, so I picked off. It was a big out."
Romo entered Tuesday with a 3.97 ERA, up from 2.45 at the end of April. He has stayed tough on right-handed hitters, who are now 4-for-33 against him this season. Left-handed hitters have been more of a challenge -- 5-for-13 going into Tuesday -- yet Bochy stayed with Romo to face two of the tougher ones in the Dodgers’ lineup, as well as the switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal. Only Gonzalez reached.
"If two guys were on, (Affeldt) probably would’ve come in, to be honest," Bochy said. "But he gave us a lot of work, had one day off. But that’s the confidence that I have in Sergio and the job that he’s done for us. So that’s why I stuck with him."
Romo said he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been asked to get four outs (he did so twice last year). But he noticed during the bottom of the seventh nobody warming up in the Giants’ bullpen, meaning he would at least get Gonzalez to start the eighth.
"I do appreciate the confidence," Romo said. "And tonight I was really appreciative and grateful that I was able to reward that confidence and actually get it done."
In two different innings, including a seventh in which the Giants used four pitchers. Tim Hudson started it, Jean Machi faced a batter and got a potential inning-ending ground ball that resulted in one run when Joe Panik’s relay throw went wild, and Javier Lopez came in and uncharacteristically walked both hitters he faced. That loaded the bases for Romo.
"He has one of the best sliders in the game, that’s going to be tough against any right-handed hitters, it doesn’t matter what jersey they’re wearing," Hudson said. "So we like our chances when Romo’s out there against anybody.
"He’s been great for us. He came in a huge spot for us tonight and bailed us out and got us a win."
* Hudson also had an encouraging night, throwing 6 1/3 innings during his first scoreless outing since his first start of the season. In his last outing at AT&T Park, the right-hander had allowed a career-high 15 hits and six runs. The difference Tuesday?
"More than anything he kept the ball down," Bochy said. "Had a good sinker working, mixed it up. But good command, stayed down in the zone, went up when he wanted to, really hit his spots well."
Hudson credited catcher Buster Posey with a good game plan that included working to both corners of the plate. "I think that’s the one thing that’s key for me is pitching side-to-side a little more than I probably have in the past," said Hudson, who recorded his 216th career win, tied for 82nd all-time.
Hudson stranded Joc Pederson after a double to lead off the game and survived a brief scare when Gonzalez hit a high, deep fly ball into Triples Alley in right-center. Hunter Pence ran the ball down, making a tough catch in the swirling wind.
"Every park in major-league baseball that’s probably a homer except for this one," said Hudson. "That’s why I came here."
* Pence played his first game at AT&T Park since last year’s World Series, and admitted afterward that he was "extremely excited."
"He had added adrenaline so to speak," Bochy agreed. "But that’s the way he plays."
Pence was cheered loudly when he took his routine jog out to center field before lineups were announced, and before his first at-bat. He went hitless in four trips to the plate, but his catch on Gonzalez’s drive was a highlight and not an easy play.
"The ball kept carrying, I didn’t think it was going that far," Bochy said. "I thought that Adrian got under it more than he did … It’s a tough play for an outfielder, it gets up there and the wind’s wreaking havoc, but I think Hunter’s as good as anybody around that wall and he made a great catch."
Pence said the wind changes every day at AT&T, so the fact he hadn’t played there at all this season didn’t make the play any more difficult. "Normally it would be a little easier because (the wind) knocks it down," Pence said. "But it was carrying."
Overall, Pence said he was happy to be back in AT&T’s "electric atmosphere."
"I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to come back and grateful for all the excitement," he said. "But it’s about the team, the pitching and the defense today, and some clutch hitting was pretty big. It was good to be a part of that, just playing the game as a team."
* The Giants actually had just one run-scoring hit -- Buster Posey’s two-out single in the third -- but didn’t need anything else. They tacked on a run when Brandon Belt doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the eighth.
It was a much different offensive showing than their three games in Cincinnati. Yet the result was similar, thanks -- as Pence said -- to a strong starting pitching effort and help from the bullpen: The formula for the Giants at home.
"I think they understand that when you leave a small ballpark like Cincinnati, you’re probably not going to have the power that we might’ve shown there or even the success," Bochy said of his players. "I think it’s a little adjustment knowing you’re probably not going to score as many runs. But if you play good baseball, you’re probably not going to give up as many, either."
* Several Giants did credit Dodgers right-hander Carlos Frias with being tough on their lineup. Frias was throwing his fastball in the mid-90s and a cutter at 90-92, while Pence said Frias threw him "a ton of changeups."
"I wasn’t really expecting that," Pence said. "So pretty good pitching, I would say."
The Dodgers have had some injuries in the rotation -- Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu -- but there’s a reason they’re still atop the division at 24-14.
"Their guy was tough, he was pretty nasty," Hudson said. "We had to scrape enough to get by."
* The Giants have now won 17 of their last 25 games overall and 11 of 14 at home. They have Tim Lincecum (3-2, 2.43) going in game two against left-hander Brett Anderson (2-1, 3.50). First pitch at 7:15 p.m.