SAN DIEGO -- While it may have come as a surprise that Odrisamer Despaigne found himself in a game Thursday, it probably didn't merit much incredulity that the Padres pitcher spent most of the day tying the Giants in knots with his multitude of pitches and arm angles.
When starting pitcher Ian Kennedy left the game with a strained left hamstring in the third inning, the Padres turned to their long reliever, Despaigne, who then retired all 14 batters he faced, while keeping his team close in a game that eventually went to the Giants, 1-0, in 12 innings.
"He was great," said Padres catcher Derek Norris. "That's a tough spot to be in. But he kept them off the scoreboard and kept us in the game."
Despaigne, who wasn't available after the game, lost the race for the team's fifth starter job to Brandon Morrow, who makes his Padres debut on Friday. Despaigne went to the bullpen, as the team's long man, capable of working several innings in a pinch, and with a resilient arm to bounce back quickly.
He worked 4 2/3 scoreless innings and didn't allow a hit or a walk, a new team record for perfect innings of relief in a game, surpassing the perfect 4 1/3 scoreless innings Jason Middlebrooks tossed on May 11, 2002 in Atlanta.
In 24 2/3 career innings against the Giants, dating back to last season when he made his Major League debut at AT&T Park, Despaigne has allowed one earned run.
"That's why he's here. His place on the club is for circumstances like that. Every team needs a long man for the emergency or the extra innings. He came up big. He didn't give up a hit and took the game into the eighth inning for us. That was great pitching by Despi," said Padres manager Bud Black.
Black said that if Kennedy's hamstring strain requires a 15-day stint on the disabled list, Despaigne would slide into Kennedy's place in the rotation, which would come up again on Tuesday against the D-backs.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.