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Melancon perseveres to get first Giants save

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN DIEGO -- As Mark Melancon discussed his first save as a Giant in Petco Park's visitors' clubhouse, the baseball that the right-hander threw for the game-ending double play sat on a dressing-stall shelf behind him.

The Giants would have preferred to take their 5-3 victory Sunday over the San Diego Padres in stride. But after beginning the season 1-5, they weren't about to take anything for granted. So it was understandable that Melancon, despite amassing the most saves in the Major Leagues in the previous two seasons, wanted a memento of the occasion.

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SAN DIEGO -- As Mark Melancon discussed his first save as a Giant in Petco Park's visitors' clubhouse, the baseball that the right-hander threw for the game-ending double play sat on a dressing-stall shelf behind him.

The Giants would have preferred to take their 5-3 victory Sunday over the San Diego Padres in stride. But after beginning the season 1-5, they weren't about to take anything for granted. So it was understandable that Melancon, despite amassing the most saves in the Major Leagues in the previous two seasons, wanted a memento of the occasion.

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"God willing, hopefully it's one of many," Melancon said.

The closer was referring to the ball, not the double play. However, the Giants wouldn't mind if Melancon generated plenty of the latter, too.

Known for his ability to induce ground balls, Melancon did just that with Manuel Margot on first base, one out in the ninth inning and Wil Myers batting. Myers happened to hit a home run in his preceding at-bat three innings earlier. Another long ball would tie the score and besmirch Melancon's resume with his second blown save in as many opportunities.

Melancon chatted with catcher Buster Posey; they agreed to start Myers with a pitch high and tight. Melancon almost went to extremes in following instructions, since his pitch nearly hit Myers. Then came a routine ground ball to second baseman Aaron Hill, who started the 4-6-3 game-ender.

"It got a little scary there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I guess you could say that he made a pitch when he had to."

The Padres ratcheted up the tension in the eighth when Yangervis Solarte clobbered a leadoff home run off Derek Law, one of the Giants' leading candidates for the still-undetermined setup role. Law walked the next batter, Ryan Schimpf, but recovered to record the next three outs.

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"I thought he bounced back well," Posey said. "The ball that was hit out was not a bad pitch. It may have been on the plate but it was down. To settle in and get three outs was nice to see."

In came Melancon one inning later to maintain order.

Said Melancon, "We're going to go through this stretch at some point during the year. You just don't want to do it at the beginning of the year. But it's inevitable -- 162 games, you're going to lose four or five in a row."

Melancon hadn't pitched since squandering a save opportunity in last Sunday's season opener at Arizona, but he kept his arm limber by throwing on the side. However, inactivity didn't bother the four-year, $62 million free-agent acquisition. What truly bugged Melancon was, "We were losing. Today was about getting that win at all costs. I think we can build off of today."

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.

San Francisco Giants, Mark Melancon