Despaigne continues dominance of Giants

Cuban rookie cruises through seven; Padres pounce early

Despaigne continues dominance of Giants

SAN DIEGO -- To the untrained eye, it certainly looked as if Padres starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne threw a gem on Friday night against the Giants, allowing two hits over seven innings in a 5-0 victory.

But from the top step of the dugout, Padres manager Bud Black, a former pitcher and pitching coach, always armed with a discerning eye for detail, saw something a little different.

"He threw seven shutout innings ... but there were a lot of 3-2 and 2-0 counts, and the ball-strike ratio wasn't great," Black said. "You can tell they [Giants] were off-balanced. He did enough to keep them thinking all the time."

And, in the end, that was enough for Black and the Padres (72-81), who took the opener of a three-game series from the Giants (84-69) before a crowd of 34,472 at Petco Park.

Despaigne, who made his Major League debut against these same Giants on June 23, walked just one and struck out six while getting nine ground-ball outs. In three starts against San Francisco this season, he allowed one earned run in 20 innings.

"Every time I face a team like the Giants, I know I have to bring my best game," Despaigne said through an interpreter. "This is the third time I've faced them. I have a good idea how to pitch those guys."

While Despaigne (4-7) first impressed and had success in June and early July with a bevy of breaking pitches, grips and arms angles, he's had more success of late relying on fastball command. That was again the case Friday, with a dash of the changeup and breaking ball.

"We kept trying to attack with the fastball and then come back and make a good off-speed pitch," said Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Despaigne's 16 starts in the big leagues have certainly been a mixed bag. He's been good at times and struggled at others. He has a 1.83 ERA at Petco Park and a 5.31 ERA on the road.

"He started off well, he threw a lot of pitches for strikes and then teams started making adjustments and started attacking him instead of him attacking them," Grandal said. "Now, he's executing pitches ... and he's executing his game. From now on, it's them adjusting to him."

The Padres roughed up Giants pitcher Tim Hudson early on, as Alexi Amarista and Cameron Maybin had big hits in a four-run first inning. Amarista had a two-run double, giving him 10 RBIs in his last seven games. Maybin followed with a two-run single.

All told, Hudson (9-12) allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

With the loss, the Giants fell further back of the Dodgers in the National League West. The Dodgers, who clinched a playoff berth on Friday, are 3 1/2 games ahead. The Pirates are now only one game back of the Giants in the NL Wild Card race and hold the tiebreaker for home-field advantage in the one-game showdown.

Now is not the time, manager Bruce Bochy agreed, for the offense to go cold. On Friday, the offense had just three hits, two by Joe Panik.

"We're struggling. There's no question about it," Bochy said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.