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SD@SF: Bass is brilliant in tough loss to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- It only made sense that the most honest and flattering praise that Bud Black had for pitcher Anthony Bass on Saturday sounded much like the commendation the Padres manager has offered on numerous occasions for Bass' counterpart, Tim Lincecum.

"He pitched a lot like I have seen the other guy pitch," said Black, comparing his 24-year-old right-hander with seven career Major League starts to Lincecum, who has won two National League Cy Young Awards before the age of 27.

"Every pitch was made with a purpose."

But not every pitch was met with success, though Bass' night started well as he retired the first 17 hitters that he faced before the Giants got to him for two runs in the seventh inning, on their way to a 2-1 victory before a sold-out crowd of 42,375 at AT&T Park.

This was the first time the Padres had a pitcher take a no-hitter into the sixth inning of a game since Mat Latos did so against the Giants, also at AT&T Park, on May 14, 2010. In that game, Eli Whiteside broke up the no-hitter. The Padres still don't have a no-hitter in franchise history.

For a while Saturday, some in the visiting dugout thought that might change.

"Incredible," said Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso, shaking his head. "It's sad we couldn't get him a win."

The Padres (7-15) certainly felt as if they were in position to do so in the seventh inning, clinging to a 1-0 lead after Lincecum got the first home hit of the game on an infield single with two outs in the sixth.

With two outs in the seventh and Melky Cabrera on second base after a double, Nate Schierholtz hit a ball into the hole between first and second base.

Second baseman Orlando Hudson, ranging far to his left, grabbed the ball in short right field, before he quickly steadied himself for a throw to first base. Alonso lunged toward Hudson and reached for the throw as the ball beat Schierholtz to the base. But first-base umpire Chris Conroy ruled that Alonso had come off the bag and ruled Schierholtz safe.

The Padres, to a man, thought -- and saw it -- differently.

"He said I didn't touch the bag, that I had my foot in the dirt and not on the bag," Alonso said. "But for me, it's the normal stride I've taken a million times."

Instead of being out of the inning, Bass (1-3) had to face Brandon Belt, who jumped on a changeup up in the strike zone, sending it the other way into the gap in left-center field as Cabrera and Schierholtz both scored for a 2-1 lead.

"It was a close call, a bang-bang play," Black said. "From our standpoint, it looked like Yonder was on the bag."

Conroy's call and this outcome, another loss for the Padres, didn't take the shine off Bass' performance, mostly because Black wouldn't let it.

"That was awesome. He pitched his tail off," Black said. "What a great game. The fastball was good, the slider, the changeup. He located in all counts. What a great lift for him, knowing that he can pitch in a game like that."

On Friday, Black talked about Bass needing to be better with pitch efficiency, especially coming off of a start where he walked five in six innings against the Phillies. On Saturday, Bass pounded the strike zone.

"Their kid threw a great game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was one of those matchups between two good pitchers. He was throwing hard and hitting his spots. He didn't walk anybody and he kept us off balance."

Pitch efficiency? Bass threw 28 pitches to get the first nine outs. He was at 52 pitches after five innings. All told, the right-hander allowed the two runs on six hits with no walks to go with a career-high eight strikeouts in eight innings, needing 90 pitches to get there.

"Going into the eighth inning says a lot. The pitch count was where it should be," Bass said. "I felt like I had command of both sides of the plate."

Lincecum (2-2) did much of the same, allowing one unearned run on three hits with four walks and five strikeouts in eight innings and 121 pitches. He allowed a sacrifice fly to Nick Hundley in the third inning for the Padres' only run. Santiago Casilla got three outs for his third save of the season in the game the Padres envisioned ending much differently.

"It's pretty obvious that call was missed," Hundley said. "A close game like that, two great arms on the mound and it's a shame to have it decided like that."

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