MLB: Even no-hitter wouldn't have guaranteed a win for Giants' marshmallow lineup
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SAN DIEGO — Imagine the excitement if Jonathan Sanchez had thrown another no-hitter Tuesday night.
Imagine the odds involved, too. He was facing the San Diego Padres for just the second time since he no-hit them on July 10.
But amazingly, on a drizzly night at Petco Park, a no-hitter wouldn't have guaranteed a Giants victory. The Padres squeaked out one single in Sanchez's seven innings and that was enough to beat him. Mat Latos and two relievers frustrated the Giants' soft lineup in a 1-0 loss.
It was the first time in the Giants' San Francisco era that they limited an opponent to one hit and lost.
Sanchez (1-1) struck out 10 and retired the side in five of his seven innings. In his last three starts against the Padres, he has yielded just four hits over 21°innings. Yet he only has one victory to show for it.
Chase Headley lined a leadoff single in the fourth inning, stole his way into scoring position and scored on Scott Hairston's sacrifice fly as the Padres clinched the series and position themselves for a three-game sweep.
The Giants have lost three consecutive and are 1-4 with one remaining on their current road trip. They also allowed the Padres to draw even with them for first place in the NL West.
The shutout was bothersome enough, but the Giants made it excruciating as they stranded runners in scoring position. They outhit the Padres 6-1, but Nate Schierholtz didn't score after hitting a leadoff triple in the eighth inning; Eli Whiteside grounded to third base, pinch hitter Bengie Molina popped up and Eugenio Velez struck out.
The Giants put runners at the corners with one out in the ninth against Padres closer Heath Bell, but Juan Uribe wasn't able to reprise his late-inning heroics. His fly out to right field wasn't deep enough to score pinch runner Andres Torres and John Bowker struck out to end it.
While Sanchez can bring no-hit stuff to the mound on any given night, the rest of his game still needs polishing. As a left-hander, he should have an automatic advantage holding runners. But it continues to be a problem area — and his negligence led to the game's only run.
Headley didn't stay glued to first base for long after his leadoff single. He stole second base easily, then tagged up when first baseman Aubrey Huff flipped over the rail into the photographer's well while catching Kyle Blanks' pop fly. Headley scored on Hairston's sacrifice fly.
The key steal was Headley's third of the game — something no Padres player had done since Dave Roberts in May, 2006. Not to suggest the Padres haven't been an athletic team in recent years, but Roberts is now retired and works in the Padres' front office.
The running game wasn't Sanchez's only shortcoming. He also failed to advance Whiteside after the catcher led off the third inning with a ground-rule double. Given Whiteside's lack of speed, Sanchez had little margin for error on his sacrifice attempt. The bunt was too hard and Latos had no trouble making the play at third. Velez followed with a single, but Edgar Renteria bounced into his second double play in as many at-bats.