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SF@SD: Headley walks with the bases loaded

SAN DIEGO -- It actually took longer Tuesday for Padres third baseman Chase Headley to work his way through a critical at-bat against Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner than it did for him to explain afterward why it was so important in the first place.

After seeing all of two pitches in his first at-bat against Bumgarner, Headley took a much different approach to his at-bat in the third inning, especially after watching his teammate Ryan Ludwick survive an at-bat for a 10-pitch walk.

"I watched a lot of that with [former teammate David] Eckstein when he was here ... how we would sacrifice some at-bats just to grind on the pitcher and to try and make him work hard," Headley said.

"It's not something that's always talked about, but it's important. You've got to work as a unit, one through nine. It's not always about getting that big hit."

It certainly helps, though it can't be argued that the Padres' best swings in their 3-1 home-opening win over the Giants before a sold-out crowd at PETCO Park were the ones they didn't take.

It was the eight-pitch walk that Headley coaxed from Bumgarner in the third inning -- an at-bat that saw him pass on two very close pitches -- that forced in the go-ahead run as the Padres scored all three of their runs in the inning, with Bumgarner laboring greatly, burning through 41 pitches.

"That third inning was the turning point of the game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

There was more to it than that, as Padres pitcher Aaron Harang -- a San Diego native who played his high school and college baseball here -- allowed one run over six innings in his debut before an appreciative crowd that saw him wiggle out of two tight jams.

But, to be sure, this game turned during a fitful inning for Bumgarner (0-1) and a fruitful one for the Padres (3-1), who for already the second time in this young season displayed enough restraint at the plate to lead to a big inning.

"The thing that we saw in Spring Training was quality at-bats, taking balls and swinging at strikes," San Diego manager Bud Black said, noting a victory in St. Louis on Saturday that saw the Padres take eight walks.

In that third inning, Nick Hundley singled for the first of his three hits -- he's hitting .533 in four games -- and moved to second on a sacrifice by Harang. Bumgarner walked leadoff hitter Jason Bartlett, the first of three walks in the inning.

Orlando Hudson then punched a single to right field that loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by Jorge Cantu tied the score at 1. Bumgarner then got ahead of Ludwick with two strikes and then simply couldn't get him out. Ludwick fouled off four pitches before walking.

Headley, having witnessed what Ludwick did and, seemingly, the effect it was having on Bumgarner, chose the patient route as well. He spit on a 2-2 curveball and walked to give the Padres a 2-1 lead. The third run of the inning came on a Chris Denorfia infield single that Bumgarner mishandled.

"You have to give the Padres credit for fouling off a bunch of good pitches, working deep in the count, working some walks," said Giants catcher Buster Posey.

Harang (1-0) made those runs stand up, although he had his share of anxious moments along the way.

Harang allowed a run in the first inning and then in the third inning allowed a double to former Padre Miguel Tejada and a single to Bumgarner. But with runners on the corners, Harang stuck out Andres Torres and fired a 92 mph fastball on the outside corner to the No. 2 hitter, Freddy Sanchez, for the second out of the inning.

Harang then ended the threat by getting Posey for the final out on a comebacker to the mound for the third out.

In the sixth inning, Harang's last, he allowed a pair of two-out singles to Posey and Pablo Sandoval. That brought up Pat Burrell. Harang, approaching the finish line, gathered himself before going after the Giants left fielder.

"You know that Burrell is trying to get his arms extended, and that's when he can hurt you," Harang said.

Harang and Hundley worked Burrell on sliders away and then a fastball in on the hands and a fastball up in the zone. Before Harang's 94th and final pitch of the night, Hundley ran to the mound.

"I just wanted to make sure he was on the same page as I was," Hundley said, smiling.

They were.

Harang came back with a slider away that Burrell swung through for the final out as Harang headed to the dugout with the lead preserved and the bullpen trio of Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and Heath Bell ready to close out the final three innings.

"I thought the slider he threw to Burrell was the best slider he threw all day," Hundley said. "Today ... it was fun for me to catch him." Comments