Cueto persists before bullpen comes through

Okert hurls 1 2/3 perfect innings; Law notches save as Melancon rests

Cueto persists before bullpen comes through

LOS ANGELES -- Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto revealed that the blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand has bothered him significantly more than he initially admitted.

Speaking through his interpreter, Erwin Higueros, Cueto related that the blister flared up early in Monday night's opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But Cueto insisted on staying in the game and ultimately earned the decision in San Francisco's 4-3 victory, allowing all of the Dodgers' runs in seven innings while limiting them to two hits in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"If I can't pitch," said Cueto (4-1), "they're going to have to take me out on one of those gurneys."

Cueto, who can opt out of his six-year, $130 million contract after this season, said that the blister has been "nagging" him for more than a month. "It doesn't want to go away," he said.

Cueto initially mentioned the blister publicly after pitching against the A's in a Bay Bridge Series exhibition on March 30 but insisted at the time that it was nothing serious.

Monday night, Cueto said the blister started bothering him around the third inning. That actually was when he reached peak effectiveness, retiring 13 batters in a row from the end of the second inning through the sixth.

Cueto's solid start

Cueto labored through a rough seventh inning, but survived, allowing a run and stranding two runners as Andrew Toles grounded out on a full-count pitch.

With left-handed-batting Corey Seager leading off the eighth, manager Bruce Bochy summoned Steven Okert, the lone lefty in the Giants' bullpen. The rookie retired not only Seager but also the next four Dodgers, including left-handed batters Adrian Gonzalez and Cody Bellinger.

Bochy knew Okert was capable of such an effort. Last Sept. 20 at Dodger Stadium, Okert yielded one hit and struck out three in another 1 2/3-inning outing to help the Giants win, 2-0.

Okert fans Grandal

Okert remained modest.

"Anybody in the 'pen could have gone out there," he said. "We have a great group of pitchers. It just happened to be me tonight."

It happened to be Derek Law who relieved Okert and notched the save by recording the final out, since Bochy deemed Mark Melancon unavailable after the closer appeared in four of the previous five games.

"I took it out of his hands," Bochy said.

With the game in his hands, Law ended matters in dramatic fashion by striking out Yasiel Puig.

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.