SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite a sixth-inning strategy disaster that made the night a lot harder than it should have been, Angel Pagan's walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the ninth inning salvaged a 3-2 Giants victory over San Diego Padres at AT&T Park on Friday.
Gregor Blanco opened the bottom of the ninth with a bloop single to left, but a poor bunt by pinch-hitter Andres Torres allowed Padres reliever Luke Gregerson to force Blanco at second. Torres stole second, however, and then easily scored when Pagan ripped a 2-0 pitch down the right-field line.
"It was one of those situations where I wanted to be the guy," said Pagan, who had gone 0 for 3 in his previous three at-bats, all with runners in scoring position.
Pagan's clutch hit concluded a weird night in which the Giants had numerous opportunities to break open the game, none better than in the bottom of the sixth when Brandon Belt and Blanco opened with singles and starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner pulled back a sacrifice bunt attempt and slapped the ball past hard-charging Padres third baseman Chase Headley.
But in what manager Bruce Bochy believed to be a bad bit of luck, the Padres were running the wheel play for a possible bunt, and Bumgarner's grounder went straight to shortstop Everth Cabrera as he was moving over to cover third. Cabrera tagged Belt and threw to second to force Blanco. If not for an errant throw to first by second baseman Jedd Gyorko, Bumgarner might have been out, as well, for a triple play.
"Actually, Bum did a great job there," Bochy said. "With the play they're running, there's probably a good chance he bunts into a double play. He did what you're supposed to do, he smoked the ball, but he just happened to hit right at (Cabrera). That's just bad luck."
"That's what we practice and that's where you want to hit it, usually," he said. "Every time I've ever seen it hit there, it's been a hit."
The strategic misfortune could have been a deflating turn of events, particularly after Bumgarner didn't come back to pitch the seventh. He'd protected a 2-1 lead until two outs in the top of the sixth when Headley hit a solo homer.
"Looking back, it probably wasn't the best pitch to throw to him, and I shook to it, too," said Bumgarner, who allowed four hits and struck out 10. "Buster (Posey) didn't want to call it, so that's on me there."
Compared with other starts of late by the Giants rotation, particularly in Milwaukee where they lost three in a row, Bumgarner threw a certified gem even though he wound up with a no-decision.
He got stalwart bullpen support from Jose Mijares, George Kontos and Santiago Casilla, who combined to give up just one hit over three innings. Casilla (2-1) got the win with four straight outs, one to end the eighth and a 1-2-3 ninth.
Bumgarner didn't mind that he was denied a chance to go 4-0 as long as the Giants pulled out the game.
"We had a rough road trip so it was nice to come home and battle and get a win," he said.
The Padres struck first in the opening inning when leadoff man Chris Denorfia punched a double down the right-field line, advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a Headley sacrifice fly.
The Giants tied it in the bottom half. Pagan opened with a single against Edinson Vasquez, and Marco Scutaro walked. After Pablo Sandoval's ground out moved the runners up, Posey hit a sacrifice fly.
In the third, Posey walked with two outs, and Hunter Pence drilled an RBI double down the left-field line.
Now, after a 2-for-18 road trip that produced just one RBI, the Giants' struggling N.L. MVP faced the daunting task of finding his stroke at AT&T Park.
But typical Posey, he remained undaunted. Despite a .213 average with no homers and five RBIs through the team's first 16 games, there was no look of concern heading into Friday's game.
"I haven't been squaring it up at the rate I'd like," he said. "But I've been feeling better at the plate the last couple of games.
"That's the name of the game, waiting to get that mistake pitch and fighting the tough ones off."
San Diego (Clayton Richard 0-1) at Giants (Tim Lincecum 1-0), 6:05 p.m. CSNBA