Pence rewards stellar Cueto with walk-off win

Pence rewards stellar Cueto with walk-off win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pinch-hitter Hunter Pence's two-out fly ball fell between a pair of San Diego Padres fielders for a ninth-inning double Monday, driving in the game's lone run as the Giants and Johnny Cueto prevailed, 1-0. It was San Francisco's 11th victory in 12 games.

Brandon Belt began the Giants' winning rally by leading off the ninth inning with a bloop single to center field off Brad Hand, San Diego's second reliever. Hand struck out Brandon Crawford and coaxed Gregor Blanco's popup. Pence, who has been sidelined since Friday with a hamstring injury, lifted a catchable-looking fly to shallow right field. But with the Padres playing no-doubles defense, Kemp couldn't make up the ground, and the ball fell between him and Alexi Amarista, before bouncing away to end the game. Afterward, Kemp refused to use the wind as an excuse.

Giants rally for walk-off win

"That's my fault," said Kemp. "There's really not much to say other than it should've been caught. And that's not Amarista's ball, that's my ball. It's easier for me coming in to get the ball than him going back. I take all the fault for that."

Cueto retired 23 of the first 24 hitters he faced, lapsing only when Kemp drilled a two-out, fourth-inning single. The Padres put runners on the corners with two outs in the eighth inning when Cueto hit Alexei Ramirez with a pitch and yielded Amarista's single. Cueto escaped further trouble by slipping a 91 mph fastball over the inside corner past Yangervis Solarte for a called third strike.

Cueto (7-1) became the first Giant to win at least seven games in his first 10 starts of the season since Jason Schmidt in 2004. He also became the first Giants pitcher to record three complete games against the same opponent in one season since Atlee Hammaker did so against the Cubs in 1983. Cueto has blanked the Padres twice while allowing them one run in 27 innings.

Cueto's excellence has not surprised Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

"If you look at his history, the guy's had a nice career. A great career," Bochy said. "He's got great savvy out there, along with great stuff."

Cueto's two-hit shutout

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Gold Glover strikes: San Diego's Derek Norris can't be blamed if he sees Crawford in his sleep. The Giants shortstop twice made slick stops on grounders deep in the hole -- once to his left and once to his right -- to throw out Norris at first base. In Norris' last at-bat, he connected solidly again but hit the ball a step or two away from third baseman Matt Duffy, resulting in another groundout.

Crawford's backhanded stop

Dealin' Drew: Drew Pomeranz has been a revelation for the Padres, and that didn't stop Monday, as he tossed seven shutout frames to bring his May ERA to 0.87 in five starts. Pomeranz also helped save the Padres' bullpen, which needed six pitchers to go 12 innings on Sunday. More >

"That's my goal anyways, to get deeper into these games, and especially so tonight with that long game yesterday," Pomeranz said. "I did pretty good. I was trying to keep us in good position to win the game. We just couldn't get anything off Cueto again."

Pomeranz escapes trouble in 7th

All it takes is one: The Giants have recorded back-to-back 1-0 victories for the first time since Aug. 27, 1980 at Montreal and Aug. 29, 1980 at New York. This accentuates that their offense has sputtered in recent weeks. San Francisco has scored five or fewer runs in 16 consecutive games. Yet the Giants are a Major League-best 16-6 in May, largely because the starting rotation's ERA for the month is 2.63.

"We haven't played up to our standards," Belt said. "We've faced a lot of good pitchers in the last couple of weeks."

Left-side, strong side: The left side of the Padres' infield turned in a highlight-reel Monday night. Third baseman Brett Wallace made a very impressive over-the-shoulder catch against leadoff man Denard Span in the first. Three innings later, Ramirez topped him with a brilliant barehanded grab-and-throw on a slow Buster Posey grounder. Wil Myers finished the play with a slick pick at first base.

Then, in the eighth, shortly after Ramirez had been hit hard in the wrist by a Cueto fastball, he made the best play of the night, spinning and throwing to first base to retire Denard Span -- and to reassure the Padres his wrist was OK.

"It caught him pretty flush in the wrist, the guy doesn't have a lot of meat on his bones -- he's a skinny guy," said Padres manager Andy Green. "But he stayed in the game, made an unbelievable play up the middle."

Ramirez fields and spins for out

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With a 1.70 ERA, Pomeranz has the third lowest mark by a Padres starter through nine starts in a season. He trails only Randy Jones in 1975 (1.54) and Jake Peavy in 2007 (1.64).

WHAT'S NEXT
Padres: Andrew Cashner comes off the disabled list Tuesday, and he'll take the hill for the first time since sustaining a right-hamstring strain while running the bases on May 8 against the Mets. Cashner struggled in his lone start against San Francisco this season, but he'll get a chance for redemption Tuesday, with first pitch set for 7:15 p.m. PT.

Giants: Like most of San Francisco's starters, Jeff Samardzija has excelled lately. Samardzija, who will get the ball in Tuesday's 7:15 p.m. PT rematch against the Padres, has recorded a 3-1 record with a 1.42 ERA in his last four starts. The right-hander has defeated San Diego twice this season, including last Thursday in an eight-inning effort at Petco Park.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.