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Cueto dazzles as Giants fall, avoid being no-hit

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

PHOENIX -- Having participated in two superb pitching performances Tuesday, the Giants tried to focus on the long-term ramifications of one, while downplaying the short-term effects of the other.

They reveled in Johnny Cueto's two-hit, 11-strikeout effort in seven innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. But they declined to crow about Arizona's Patrick Corbin, whose complete-game one-hitter proved to be the dominant force in the Giants' 1-0 defeat.

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PHOENIX -- Having participated in two superb pitching performances Tuesday, the Giants tried to focus on the long-term ramifications of one, while downplaying the short-term effects of the other.

They reveled in Johnny Cueto's two-hit, 11-strikeout effort in seven innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. But they declined to crow about Arizona's Patrick Corbin, whose complete-game one-hitter proved to be the dominant force in the Giants' 1-0 defeat.

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As dominant as Corbin looked, particularly while he no-hit the Giants for 7 2/3 innings, each out he recorded prolonged the futility of San Francisco's offense. The Giants have scored one or fewer runs in nine games this season, the most in the Major Leagues. San Francisco's disappointing .158 batting average with runners in scoring position entering the night remained constant, primarily because Corbin didn't allow a Giant to stray as far as second base.

The Giants tried to content themselves with Cueto' magnificence in his first start since April 4. Shortly afterward, a sprained left ankle sent him to the disabled list. But the injury was never considered serious, as Cueto demonstrated against the D-backs. He struck out at least one batter in every inning, and was never seriously threatened.

"I tried to do my own thing," Cueto said. "The changeup was my go-to pitch, but everything else was working just fine."

Video: SF@ARI: Cueto K's Peralta swinging in the 1st inning

First baseman Brandon Belt had an on-field view of Cueto's evening, talking after the game about his performance.

"If we get ballgames out of Johnny like we did tonight, he's going to win us a lot of baseball games," he said. "It's just unfortunate that the other guy pitched a great ballgame, too."

Belt nagged Corbin all night. He nearly recorded the Giants' first hit in the third inning, long before no-hit thoughts danced in everybody's heads. The ball couldn't quite escape the overshifted infield, however, and third baseman Daniel Descalso made the play.

Video: SF@ARI: Descalso lays out for a diving stop in shift

The D-backs shifted for Belt again in the eighth inning, but their infielders could do nothing with the check-swing grounder up the third-base line.

"It happens sometimes," Belt said. "The shift takes a lot of hits away, but every now and then, it'll give one back."

The Giants' inability to score left opportunity in the D-backs' hands. They capitalized on the chance to break the scoreless tie, as David Peralta grounded a single to center field off Giants left-hander Tony Watson with two outs in their half of the eighth to score Jarrod Dyson.

Video: SF@ARI: Peralta's single opens the scoring in the 8th

According to STATS, the last time the Giants went hitless for at least 7 2/3 innings in a game without being no-hit, was on Sept. 4, 1995, against the Expos. Carlos Perez threw 6 2/3 innings and Gil Heredia added an inning, before Glenallen Hill singled. 

STATS also pointed out that the Giants hadn't gone hitless for at least 7 2/3 innings against a single pitcher without actually being no-hit since Aug. 20, 1986, against the Phillies, when Don Carman befuddled them. Bob Brenly doubled to lead off the ninth inning.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In a sense, the fact that Watson yielded a run was monumental. He entered the game unscored upon in 6 2/3 innings spanning six appearances. He had allowed opponents four hits in 24 at-bats (good for a .167 average). Watson was nearly perfect, yet there was no way that could last.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Credit the Giants for striving to win until the very end. Pinch-hitter Nick Hundley drove Corbin's final delivery to left field, where it briefly appeared that Peralta would miss the ball. That would have resulted in at least a double for Hundley. But Peralta turned to adjust his route, and made the grab.

Video: SF@ARI: Corbin induces lineout, one-hits Giants

THEY SAID IT
"He was making his slider look like his fastball. I think if you can do that, you're going to be tough every night." -- Belt, on Corbin.

UP NEXT
The Giants resume their series vs. the D-backs on Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. PT as right-hander Chris Stratton opposes Arizona lefty Robbie Ray, who is fast becoming a Giant-killer. Ray is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his last four starts against San Francisco.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

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