SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the Giants approached Chad Gaudin in the offseason and asked the flexible right-hander to join his ninth different organization, Gaudin didn't need a hard sell.

"They're the World Series champs," he said. "Watching from afar, it looked special here. It looked fun."

Gaudin is hoping to join in, and through nearly a month of spring training, he has done little to hurt his cause. Gaudin took the ball on short notice Thursday because of Tim Lincecum's blister and threw three shutout innings in his first start of the spring, giving up just two hits while striking out two.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Chad Gaudin (53) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning of their Cactus League game at Scottsdale
San Francisco Giants pitcher Chad Gaudin (53) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning of their Cactus League game at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. San Francisco defeats Los Angeles 4-1. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

The 29-year-old has given up two runs over 81/3 innings this spring and is a strong candidate to make the opening day roster as a long reliever. It's a role Gaudin is very comfortable in.

"I think it's a very important role," he said. "Sometimes it gets overlooked, but it's not an easy test. You can go in there and save the bullpen and eat those innings up, and that's how you win the next two games, or win the next week."

Gaudin could be called upon to fill the role Guillermo Mota had in recent years. Gaudin threw at least three innings on six occasions last year and has made 75 career starts. He has a 4.63 career ERA and has been traded three times and released four times, but the Giants like what they've seen from him this spring.

"He gave us what we were hoping to see," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's throwing well. He's got some pitches to work with and he commands the ball fairly well."

Gaudin likes what he's seen of the Giants, too. He said it's easy to see why the team has won two World Series titles in the past three years.

"This is one of the hardest-working springs I've been around," said Gaudin, whose wife is from Benicia. "Everybody picks everybody up. They work hard on and off the field."

  • Hunter Pence had a pair of run-scoring singles and Brandon Belt had a two-run double, but the Giants lost to the Cleveland Indians 6-4 at Goodyear Ballpark. Brandon Crawford went 2 for 3 and scored twice.

    The Indians broke the game open in the fourth when Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi hit back-to-back homers off of prospect Heath Hembree.

  • Brett Pill missed Thursday's game, saying he "tweaked" his knee. Pill, hitting .273 with two homers this spring, hoped to be back in the lineup Friday. Andres Torres (oblique strain) could pinch hit this weekend, Bochy said, and Tony Abreu (strained quad) is getting close to returning.

    For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.