04/10/08 2:37 AM ET
Germano's lost effort not in vain
Padres encouraged by team play despite falling to Giants
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
"We're playing better than we are," Padres reliever Heath Bell said. "I feel we are a lot better than a .500 team."
But that's exactly where the Padres sit after 10 games. For the second time in as many games, they wasted numerous offensive opportunities, thus wasting a fine performance by pitcher Justin Germano as the Giants scored a run in the ninth inning for a 1-0 victory over the Padres on Wednesday at AT&T Park.
Germano's seven shutout innings weren't forgotten, though they were overlooked after a fitful night offensively, as the Padres (5-5) struck out 12 times and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Bell gave up the winning run in the ninth inning, bringing the Padres' bullpen's loss total to five, as Dan Ortmeier's double over the head of Jim Edmonds in center field knocked in the winning run.
For Ortmeier, who earlier this week decided to give up switch-hitting, it was his first at-bat as a right-handed batter against a right-handed pitcher since his freshman year at the University of Texas-Arlington in 2000.
"I thought that when he hit it, Jimmy was going to go back and catch it on the [warning] track," Bell said of the curveball that stayed up in the strike zone.
Ortmeier's hit brought in the only run of the game, though it's not like the Padres didn't have their chances to score.
The Padres looked to be on the verge of pushing across the first run of the game several times before Ortmeier entered the game in the seventh inning.
The Padres chased Jonathan Sanchez in the seventh inning after Jim Edmonds and Khalil Greene reached base with singles to start the inning. Relief pitcher Merkin Valdez came into the game in time to retire Scott Hairston, who bunted the runners to second and third base.
Josh Bard then lifted a fly ball the other way down the left-field line as Fred Lewis made a running grab, all while trying to prevent himself from stumbling on the bullpen mound. If that wasn't enough, Lewis fired the ball home in time to nab Edmonds at the plate.
"That was a great play," Padres manager Bud Black said. "On the run, where he caught it backhanded below his waist and to throw a two-hopper to the plate ... that was a fantastic play."
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But there was more.
With one out in the eighth inning, Brian Giles reached on a walk and went to second base when Tadahito Iguchi dumped a single into shallow center field. But the inning ended as Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres' hottest hitter, bounced into a 6-4-3 double play.
"Overall, they're [Padres hitters] not happy with the results, but I don't see any sign of frustration," Black said. "These guys are trying like hell. It just didn't happen tonight."
For the second time in as many starts this season, Germano left a start feeling a little bit upstaged -- although not by much -- by the opposing pitcher.
It was Dodgers' newcomer Hiroki Kuroda who handcuffed the Padres to the tune of one run over seven innings on April 4 while Germano allowed one unearned run over six innings. On Wednesday, Sanchez allowed one hit over the first six innings.
Germano tossed seven shutout innings, tying the longest outing of his career. And he was thrifty, needing 83 pitches to get through the seventh. All told, Germano walked just one batter and had three strikeouts.
Germano threw five pitches in the fourth inning and eight in the sixth inning, getting the Giants out in front of his developing changeup and his curveball.
"It's a big part of the game, staying consistent and executing pitches," said Germano, who hasn't allowed a run in 13 innings yet doesn't have a victory to show for it. "I'm confident in all my pitches."