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Padres don't look like cellar-dwellers

Padres don't look like cellar-dwellers
SAN DIEGO After his first at-bat Saturday, Padres second baseman David Eckstein walked to the dugout with a mesmerized look on his face. He had just seen six pitches from Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez.

Or, more accurately, he failed to see them.

"Oh, you couldn't tell?" said Eckstein, who struck out. "The fastball is so effortless. I couldn't see any spin. I think that was pretty obvious, wasn't it? He was just electric."

But Sanchez couldn't sustain his focus, and that's a sure way to lose when you're opposing Jake Peavy. Padres backup catcher Henry Blanco hit two home runs and Adrian Gonzalez launched a three-run double off a faltering Sanchez as the Giants lost 6-3 at Petco Park.

The Padres , a universal pick to finish last in the National League West, have beaten the Giants in both meetings to clinch a series victory.

"This is a big series win because that's a great team over there," said Peavy (1-1), who struck out 10 in 81/3 innings. "Their lineup is tougher than people think. And shoot, their pitching? It's the best in the division."

The Giants plan to contend behind their strong rotation, but the first turn was for the worse. The starters combined for a 6.46 ERA and only Matt Cain pitched into the sixth inning.

"That's not going to work, we know it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Once they get going, they'll get in a rhythm. We don't expect this to happen too often "... but we're going to need more innings from our starters."

Sanchez (0-1) appeared on his way to a dominant outing, throwing sliders and fastballs with precision as he struck out five of the first six batters he faced. He threw 22 of 26 pitches for strikes (80 percent) in the first two innings.

But Blanco drilled a pitch to left field leading off the third inning, and Sanchez couldn't find the strike zone after that. Sanchez threw just 28 of his final 70 pitches for strikes (40 percent).

After Blanco's second homer broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth, Sanchez lost it completely as he tried to overthrow.

"You're losing the game. You've got to do more," Sanchez said. "I was angry and I just wanted to get everybody out after that. I lost my release point."

The inning devolved from there. Sanchez issued a one-out walk to Peavy and Scott Hairston followed with an infield single to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who couldn't make a clean stop of the hard hopper.

Eckstein walked to load the bases, although the runners held when Brian Giles flied out to shallow center field. It looked like Sanchez might escape, but Gonzalez crushed a pitch to the deepest part of right-center field.

"It's an area we've talked about," Bochy said of Sanchez. "It's a 2-1 ballgame at that time and we're right in it. That's something he's got to get better at."

What lesson can Sanchez take from this start?

"I've got to get better confidence," he said, "and get those big outs."

Sanchez might have matched Peavy's excellence in the early innings, but the Padres' former Cy Young Award winner knew how to sustain it.

Peavy's effort for a complete game stalled when Randy Winn and Fred Lewis doubled in the ninth. Heath Bell cleaned up the final two outs to record his third save.

"Jonathan will be a great pitcher," Peavy said. "He's got a ton of talent. I don't know how much time he has in the big leagues, but he'll learn. It's different up here. That lineup keeps coming at you."

Contact Andrew Baggarly at 6,Giants 3today: Giants (Tim Lincecum 0-0) at Padres (Chris Young 1-0), 1:05 p.m. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 680-AM

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 12, 2009

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