Heston shows poise in win on ring day

Rookie pitcher turns in third straight strong start, beats D-backs again

Heston shows poise in win on ring day

SAN FRANCISCO -- On a day that was largely devoted to commemorating accomplishments, Chris Heston forged a historic trail of his own.

Heston lasted 7 2/3 innings to help the Giants defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-1, and end an eight-game losing streak. Moreover, he set a standard that has eluded literally hundreds of his predecessors.

Heston became the first Giants rookie dating back to 1914 to begin a season with three consecutive starts of at least six innings and one or fewer earned runs allowed, according to STATS LLC. The right-hander sealed this feat with Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, who participated in the pregame 2014 World Series ring ceremony, among the onlookers at AT&T Park.

Moreover, Heston's outing was the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Madison Bumgarner worked eight innings on July 6, 2010, at Milwaukee.

Heston has maintained this consistency while weathering the pressure of appearing in two high-profile games -- Monday's home opener and Saturday's ring extravaganza. He explained that he sustained his concentration by simplifying his approach.

"I was just trying to stick to the game plan, and once the game starts, all that [hoopla] is over with," said Heston, who recorded another personal best by striking out six D-backs.

Heston dominates the D-backs

Heston, who appeared in three games for the Giants last year, may have received a pregame assist by being the first player to receive his ring. This allowed him to focus himself mentally and physically for the task at hand throughout the rest of the ceremony.

Heston admitted he felt slightly confused after picking up his ring, since he was first in line.

"What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go?" he wondered.

Fortunately for the Giants, Heston found his sanctuary on the mound. Allowing David Peralta's fourth-inning leadoff homer was his lone serious lapse. Heston permitted only three runners to reach scoring position, leaving the bases loaded in the second inning and stranding Paul Goldschmidt after the D-backs slugger hit a two-out, sixth-inning double.

Obviously, facing the D-backs just two starts ago didn't overexpose Heston to them.

"You get a feel for what these guys want to do," Heston said, adding that his reliance in catcher Buster Posey's pitch selection helped him thrive.

"He's a four-pitch guy with command," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, referring to Heston's fastball, sinker, curveball and changeup. "That really works."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.