The SF Giants, of late, have had trouble taking leads over their opponents, and the rare times they've had the advantage their foe seemed to have an answer.
To prevent a late comeback by the host San Diego Padres on Saturday afternoon, all the Giants needed for a win was Carlos Rodon. For every pitch.
Rodon was masterful in possibly his best outing in the Orange and Black, throwing his first complete game of the season and striking out 12 Padres while throwing just 112 pitches. He allowed three hits and walked two, giving up just one run as the Giants took a 3-1 victory.
Despite Rodon's domination, the outcome was in doubt for much of the game. After both teams scored a run in the second, Rodon and Padres starter Yu Darvish matched goose eggs until Darvish exited after the seventh.
The winning rally came in the eighth against reliever Luis Garcia. With one out, Joc Pederson drew a walk. Up next was Wilmer Flores, and he ripped a ball over the left field wall for his 10th home run of the season.
Rodon shut the door in the final innings
Given the lead, Rodon pitched a perfect eighth inning and retired the first two of the ninth before issuing a four-pitch walk to bring the potential tying run to the plate. With Camilo Doval warming in the bullpen there was a question as to whether manager Gabe Kapler would pull Rodon, but he stayed with the veteran southpaw and was rewarded with a three-pitch strikeout of Jorge Alfaro to end the game.
The Giants, mired in a streak of three games where they were hitless through at least three innings each time, changed course and got to work in the second against Darvish. Brandon Belt led off the inning with a double, and a walk and single loaded the bases. Brandon Crawford knocked in the game's first run on a sacrifice fly, but that was all San Francisco could tally despite having the bases loaded and no outs.
The only run Rodon allowed probably should not have scored, even though it went as an earned run in the books. The Padres loaded the bases themselves in the home half of the second with one out, and Belt, normally sure-handed, attempted to back-hand a one-hop smash but it kicked off his glove and into the air. Had Belt made the play it's possible he could have started an inning-ending double play, but the error allowed a run to score. The Giants did get out of the inning on a twin killing against the next batter.
The Giants, unable to gain ground in the NL West thanks to Los Angeles beating the Chicago Cubs, will finish their four-game set with San Diego on Sunday afternoon.