Padres narrowly nipped by Giants
Three-error inning looms large in San Diego loss
SAN FRANCISCO -- Mark Sweeney was on top of the world before Tuesday's game even began, knowing he was making his first start of the season at first base. He hit the stratosphere after his second-inning homer gave the Padres the first lead.By the seventh inning, it all came crashing down to earth for Sweeney. In the end, the Padres were on the losing side of a 6-5 seesaw battle with the Giants, and Sweeney couldn't possibly see the homer through the frustrating haze of the two errors he committed in the seventh. "I feel bad for the people that did their jobs. I took us away from a ballgame we really should have won," Sweeney said. The game wasn't over, however, when the Giants scored three in the seventh after Sweeney's two gaffes. Within moments, Phil Nevin had picked up Sweeney with a huge pinch-homer to tie the game in the eighth. Nevin, who didn't start with Sweeney getting the nod at first, entered the eighth-inning plate appearance 1-for-10 against Armando Benitez (1-1). But he belted a 1-2 pitch high into the night sky and deep to left field for his fourth homer of the season and first pinch-homer since 1999, tying the game at 5. But then the Giants got in the last shot on the Padres when J.T. Snow doubled home a run in the bottom half of the inning against reliever Akinori Otsuka (0-2). Having seen Sweeney struggle through the seventh in the field, Nevin knew his teammate and friend was hurting but offered more than just a two-run homer's worth of support. "Nobody in here would have a problem if he's out there again in a tight situation at the end of a game," Nevin said. "We wouldn't have been in that situation in the first place if not for his homer." The loss dropped the Padres to 1-4 on the current road trip and raised the sense of frustration in the team's clubhouse. "This is a tough one, especially when you get a big home run like Nevin's to tie it," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We made a mistake there, and it came back to haunt us." The mistakes actually came in triplicate in the seventh. Catcher Ramon Hernandez was charged with an error in the seventh as well, marking the first time the Padres had three errors in an inning since Aug. 2, 2002, vs. Cincinnati. The rough inning began when Sweeney couldn't handle Omar Vizquel's liner, and moments later Sweeney's throw pulled shortstop Geoff Blum off the bag on a potential double-play ball. Both Vizquel and Snow would score on Pedro Feliz's liner to center off Scott Linebrink, and the Giants scored their third run on a fielder's choice in part because Moises Alou had taken third on Hernandez's error. The jam-shot hit by Vizquel was one Nevin said is tough to handle, especially for someone who's not a regular. "He's a damn good first baseman, we all know that," Nevin said of Sweeney. "The timing was just bad tonight." Sweeney, meanwhile, came away from this game thinking there were two plays that he didn't make, period. "Those are plays I've got to make," Sweeney said. "They're not asking me to go out and make Gold Glove plays, but I'm expected to make those plays. I work hard at it, but I just didn't do it tonight." Sweeney was the Padres' first hero of the night, drilling a solo homer in the second inning off Giants starter Jason Schmidt to give the Padres the first lead. The Giants tied it in the third and took the lead in the fifth against Padres starter Adam Eaton, but the Padres tied it on a Hernandez solo shot in the sixth and took a 3-2 advantage when Ryan Klesko doubled home Brian Giles in the seventh. After Nevin's homer tied it, Otsuka allowed an infield single on a broken bat to pinch-hitter Jason Ellison -- "That's just bad luck," Bochy said. Ellison stole second, moved to third on a groundout and then scored with two out when Snow finished off a 4-for-5 night with his second double, this one to right. The Padres got the tying runner in scoring position against Benitez in the ninth when Adam Hyzdu singled and stole second. The Giants' closer got a win out of his blown save when he got Blum to hit a ball to Snow at first, with Benitez suffering a strained hamstring as he ran to the bag for the final out. With that, the Padres absorbed another tough loss among more than they'd like to count this year. "Losses are losses," Nevin said. "It doesn't matter. We haven't had a good road trip. To salvage it, we could have won these three here. "But Arizona's behind us now, and this game's going to be behind us. We come out here and play a good game like we should [Wednesday], and we can still take the series."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.