SAN DIEGO -- Things are going just swimmingly for the Shark -- and the rest of the Giants' pitching staff, for that matter.
Jeff Samardzija retired the last 19 batters he faced Thursday night as the Giants ran their winning streak to eight games with a 3-1 victory over the Padres. In doing so, San Francisco put a bow on its first undefeated road trip of at least seven games since 1913. Samardzija struck out eight, while allowing one run on three hits over eight frames -- bringing his May ERA to 1.42.
"I feel like it took me just a little bit to get going," said Samardzija, who yielded his lone run in the second inning. "I was leaving the ball in the middle of the plate. I made a minor adjustment and got a little more extension."
Brandon Crawford homered and Joe Panik had four hits to spark the San Francisco offense against Padres starter James Shields, who allowed three runs on nine hits over 6 ⅔ innings. Shields has now recorded at least six frames in all nine of his starts this season. But the Padres have scored a total of 15 runs in those games and are 2-7 when Shields gets the ball.
The Giants have beaten the Padres in all six meetings this season and secured their first sweep in the East Village since August 2006.
"Any time you get swept, it's tough to swallow," Shields said. "We got outplayed this whole series. We got outpitched. We need to clean that up, bottom line. I'm not making any excuses. We just need to get better."
"This one was tough all the way around, from an offensive standpoint," said Padres first baseman Wil Myers, who went 0-for-3. "I thought we threw the ball really well this series. Our offense really didn't do much."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Crawford in the clutch: Whether there's a runner aboard or the bases are empty, the Giants shortstop bears down in the late innings. Crawford's seventh-inning home run helped hoist his batting average in the seventh inning or later to .327 (16-for-49) with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs.
Crawford attributed the bulk of San Francisco's success to its starting pitching. The Giants scored only 24 runs in the trip's seven games.
"To be able to put up just a couple of runs and get a win is huge," he said.
In defense of Duffy: Giants third baseman Matt Duffy is mired in his second pronounced batting slump of the season, having gone hitless in his last 20 at-bats. But he didn't allow his hitting woes to affect his defense, as he made three sure-handed stops of challenging grounders.
Double returns: Alexi Amarista (right hamstring) and Jon Jay (right shoulder) returned to the starting lineup Thursday after dealing with injuries. Both had an impact right away, doubling in their first at-bats. In Amarista's case, his sharp second-inning grounder into the right-field corner plated the Padres' run.
That first step … It's a doozy:Matt Kemp's fourth-inning error on Matt Duffy's blooper will be scrutinized most for the ball popping out of Kemp's glove. But the Padres right fielder did himself no favors with a poor first step that turned a seemingly routine play into a tricky one. Duffy would come around to score an unearned run three batters later when Hunter Pence bounced a seven-hopper up the middle.
"I made the pitch," Shields said of the Pence at-bat. "And he just kind of found the hole."
"He did a good job. I'm honestly to the point where I'm pretty much done tipping my cap to other pitchers though. We've got to have better at-bats." -- Padres manager Andy Green on Samardzija
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Kelby Tomlinson pinch-hit for Samardzija in the bottom of the eighth, it ended the Giants' chance of becoming the first team since the 2004 Twins to win a three-game series with three complete games. For Minnesota, Brad Radke, Johan Santana and Kyle Lohse all went the distance against the Royals from July 5-7.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: Many observers will envision a potential postseason matchup as the Giants open a three-game series against the Cubs on Friday at 7:15 p.m. PT. The contest will launch a six-game homestand for the Giants, who own an 11-10 record at AT&T Park. Jake Peavy starts for the Giants against reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.
Padres: With Andrew Cashner due back from the DL next week, Christian Friedrich could very well be pitching to maintain his spot in the starting rotation when the Padres host the Dodgers at 7:40 p.m. PT Friday. Friedrich allowed a run on four hits in six innings in his Padres debut last Friday.