SAN DIEGO — In the third inning of the series opener Tuesday, relievers poured out of the bullpens to make the sprint to the plate as Madison Bumgarner and Wil Myers exchanged words. Hopefully the guys in the Giants’ bullpen enjoyed the exercise, because they’ve spent the rest of this series basically just sitting and watching dominance.
A night after Bumgarner threw a complete game, Johnny Cueto did the same, carrying the Giants to a 2-1 win at Petco Park. Hunter Pence provided all the offense with a two-run shot.
The Giants have won seven straight, and they’ll go for a perfect road trip on Thursday evening.
Cueto fell behind in the second when Brett Wallace lined a leadoff double and Alexei Ramirez poked a single to center, but Cueto settled into a groove. He retired 13 of the next 14 and got through the sixth on just 67 pitches. Cueto got two groundouts to start the second before walking Derek Norris. Ramirez hit a lazy fly to end that brief threat.
Pence had long since given Cueto a lead to work with. He got a high 0-2 fastball with a runner on in the fourth and lofted a deep fly to right. Matt Kemp kept drifting and drifting, thinking the ball would surely drop, but it landed several feet beyond the right field fence. The homer was Pence’s seventh.
The Giants didn’t do much else offensively, but that didn’t matter. Cueto put a runner on with two down in the eighth, but on his 102nd pitch he blew 94 mph past Myers.
Kemp struck out to open the ninth, and then Wallace swung through a darting changeup. Melvin Upton Jr. fell behind 0-2 but worked a walk on a series of pitches right off the outside corner. Cueto had enough left in the tank, though, and on his 117th pitch he got a game-ending pop-up.
Starting pitching report: Cueto has pitched at least seven innings in eight of his nine starts. He’s second in the Majors in innings pitched (66 2/3), trailing just Clayton Kershaw (70) who doesn’t really count because he’s some sort of robot.
Bullpen report: It was yet another easy night for these guys. Bochy needs a blowout so he can give each reliever a third of an inning to stay sharp.
At the plate: Brandon Belt was hitless in four at-bats, snapping a streak of 24 consecutive games reaching base.
In the field: Cueto’s best delivery of the night was an off-balance throw he made on Matt Kemp’s grounder in the sixth. Cueto fielded the slow roller as he sprinted toward third, and he spun and fired a strike to first to end the inning.
Attendance: The Padres announced a crowd of 23,518 human beings who did not get press box nachos.
Up next: Jeff Samardzija (5-2, 2.88) goes for the sweep against James Shields (2-5, 3.12).