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Longo's homer prevents history-making loss

@mi_guardado
March 30, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy tinkered with his lineup Friday in the hopes of jolting an offense that was shut down by the Padres on Opening Day. Brandon Belt and Joe Panik sat against San Diego left-hander Joey Lucchesi, while Buster Posey started at first base and Michael

SAN DIEGO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy tinkered with his lineup Friday in the hopes of jolting an offense that was shut down by the Padres on Opening Day.

Brandon Belt and Joe Panik sat against San Diego left-hander Joey Lucchesi, while Buster Posey started at first base and Michael Reed led off. The configuration was different, but the results were largely the same.

The Giants’ meek offense mustered only six hits in a 4-1 loss to the Padres on Friday night at Petco Park. They were in danger of being shut out for the second consecutive game before Evan Longoria launched a solo home run off Phil Maton in the ninth inning to snap the club’s 17-inning scoreless streak to start the season.

Without Longoria’s homer, the Giants would have become the first club in the franchise’s 137-season history to open a year with back-to-back shutout losses.

“It’s sad it took us 17 innings to do it, but hopefully we can get some life out of that,” Longoria said. “We put together a pretty good ninth there. Sometimes you just need a little bit of a spark.”

Longoria’s blast helped jump-start a last-ditch rally for the Giants, who went on to load the bases with one out after Panik singled, Steven Duggar walked and Erik Kratz reached on a hit-by-pitch. But they came away empty-handed after Gerardo Parra and Belt struck out looking against Padres closer Kirby Yates to end the game. The Giants were upset by the called third strikes, as they were both borderline calls by home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale.

“It’s a shame,” Bochy said. “It’s a heck of a job on the guys, battling back after the first game and eight innings of the second game there. You get the tying run on base, and they had the bat taken out of their hands. There was no question that was the case. It was a tough way to go out tonight.”

Longoria, who has gone 3-for-7 over the first two games of the year, has been one of the few Giants hitters to emerge as a threat at the plate thus far. Posey, Belt and Brandon Crawford have opened the season by combining to go 3-for-21, while newcomers Connor Joe and Reed are 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.

Lucchesi held the Giants to just three hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings, helping the Padres set a franchise record with 17 scoreless innings to start the season.

“We’re frustrated, but nobody is panicking,” left-hander Derek Holland said. “It’s just the second game of the season. There’s no need to start throwing up the panic signs. We’re OK. Yeah, hits haven’t gone the way we want them to, but you’ve got to keep plugging away. You can’t let that stuff slow you down.”

Holland gave up three runs on four hits over four innings in his season debut for the Giants. Manuel Margot put San Diego on the board with a two-run single in the second, and Ian Kinsler -- Holland’s former teammate on the Rangers -- padded the lead with a solo shot in the third.

After Kratz drew a two-out walk in the fifth, Bochy sent up Pablo Sandoval to pinch-hit for Holland, who departed after throwing 71 pitches. Sandoval flicked a double down the right-field line to put runners on second and third, but the Giants couldn’t capitalize, as Reed subsequently grounded out to end the threat.

“I’m a little upset just because I didn’t go as long as I wish I could have gone,” Holland said. “But you’ve got to understand that the decision is made and always respect that. We’ll try to get some momentum going. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way in that last inning, but we were right there. Hopefully we’ll take what we picked up from that last bit right there and use that for tomorrow.”

Bergen debuts

Left-hander Travis Bergen made his MLB debut in the sixth inning after being summoned to face Kinsler with runners on first and second and two outs. Bergen, a Rule 5 Draft pick, induced a groundout from Kinsler to end the inning.

“Pretty good hitter there, but I thought he handled himself very well and made a big pitch there at 3-2 to keep it at four runs,” Bochy said. “It’s a nice debut for him.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.