SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence didn't make good contact on Brad Hand's 0-2 slider in the bottom of the 11th inning on Sunday. But he made enough contact, and the Giants walked off the Padres in a 3-2 victory at AT&T Park.
Pence's slow roller up the first-base line snuck past Eric Hosmer and into right field, and Buster Posey scampered home with the game-winning run. It spoiled an impressive day for two rookie pitchers -- lefty starter Eric Lauer, who pitched six innings of one-run ball, and righty reliever Robert Stock, who pitched a scoreless 10th in his MLB debut.
"That's just the luck of the draw right there," Hosmer said. "You don't expect a right-handed hitter to hit a ball like that down the first-base line -- especially directly down the line. It just didn't go our way."
To some extent, Hand's demise was his own doing. He surrendered a one-out double to Andrew McCutchen. Then, after Posey was intentionally walked, he plunked Brandon Crawford in the shoulder with his first pitch. That set the stage for Pence.
"It was a pretty decent pitch," said Hand, who has now allowed five runs in his last four outings. "It looked like it was right on the dirt, and he just poked something down the line. It's a tough one."
Pence's game-winner robbed Stock of his first career win. Ten seasons ago, the Cardinals drafted Stock as a catcher. He spent time in the Minor Leagues for four organizations and even played one season with the New Jersey Jackals in independent ball. He moved to the mound after three professional seasons.
At long last, on Sunday afternoon, Stock climbed the big league mound -- and he dazzled in his debut. The hard-throwing 28-year-old was excellent in the 10th, working around a misplay by Hosmer and striking out two Giants while stranding the would-be winning run on third base. It wasn't exactly a soft landing spot, yet Stock thrived under the pressure.
"That's way more fun," he said. "That's the type of situation I was pitching in in Triple-A, so it's not as much of a change. It's just: Game's on the line -- go get people out."
He did just that. And despite a fastball that sat at 97-98 mph, Stock went to his slider in the most critical moments. He threw it seven times and recorded three swings-and-misses and two strikes looking.
"The Padres' bullpen is amazing," Stock said. "If I can come be a part of it and hand the ball off to the next guy, good things will happen."
Generally speaking, that may be true. Not on Sunday. An inning later, Cory Spangenberg poked a two-out RBI single through the right side, putting the Padres on top. It wouldn't be enough.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Back at the top: The Padres entered the season with plans for Manuel Margot to lead off on a regular basis. But after some early-season struggles, Margot hadn't graced the top spot in their batting order since May 14. With Travis Jankowski nursing some left-quad tightness, manager Andy Green moved Margot into the No. 1 spot in the order, and he was rewarded instantly, when Margot walloped the Padres' first leadoff homer of the season.
Posey gets a pass: Green had a decision to make in the 11th inning following McCutchen's one-out double. With an open base, he opted to walk Posey and let Hand attack the left-handed-hitting Crawford. It was an all-or-nothing play. When Green put the winning run on first base, he gave the Padres a better chance to escape unscathed. He also gave them a better chance to lose the game in that inning. Green was OK with that tradeoff, given that his bullpen was taxed for nine innings on Saturday when starter Jordan Lyles was scratched.
"The context we find ourselves in right there, with our bullpen pretty much done, Brad is our last guy we can really go to," Green said. "... You're trying to leverage every opportunity to end the game right there."
• Lyles placed on DL with sore elbow
Entering June, it was entirely fair to be skeptical of Lauer's standing as a big league pitcher. The rookie left-hander saw his ERA jump to 7.67 following a dreadful start on Memorial Day against the Marlins. He wasn't yet two years removed from being drafted and he turned 23 later that week.
At the time, further Minor League seasoning seemed not only prudent, but somewhat inevitable. Instead, the Padres asked Lauer to work out the kinks in the Majors. And he's done exactly that.
Lauer continued to quiet those skeptics on Sunday, allowing only a sixth-inning homer to Giants center fielder Gorkys Hernandez. He's now allowed seven earned runs in his last five starts combined, and he owns a June ERA of 2.28.
"I've been much more satisfied with the pitch mix, as far as anything in any count and any location," Lauer said.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With the go-ahead run on second base in the eighth inning, McCutchen lofted a fly ball into foul territory. Hunter Renfroe ranged toward the line -- and the bullpen mounds in the right-field corner -- and made a brilliant running catch before tumbling into the stands. He lost his hat in the crowd. He didn't lose the baseball.
HE SAID IT
"I only had a moment once I was officially out of the game. While you're out there, it's just like any other game. But then [pitching coach Darren] Balsley comes up and says, 'Good job, Robert, you're done.' You go, 'Wow. That just happened.'" -- Stock, on his debut
Rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi returned from the disabled list on Wednesday and didn't make it out of the second inning in a rough outing against Oakland. But perhaps most important, he felt no ill effects of the right hip strain that landed him on the DL last month. He'll look to bounce back against Texas in the opener of a three-game set at 5:05 p.m. PT in Arlington. The Rangers counter with Cole Hamels.