SAN DIEGO -- The Giants took the first step toward putting their rocky first half behind them Friday night. Buster Posey's seventh-inning moonshot proved to be the difference, as San Francisco held on for a tense 5-4 victory over the Padres at Petco Park.
The game wasn't without some late drama, however. After entering the ninth with a two-run lead, Giants closer Sam Dyson allowed three hits before plunking Cory Spangenberg to put the tying and winning runs in scoring position. He ran the count full on Jabari Blash, who flied to right field, ending the game.
"He's got a calmness about him that I like," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Dyson, who has recorded the Giants' last four saves while closer Mark Melancon recovers from a forearm injury.
After falling behind in the fourth inning as Johnny Cueto wrapped up his shortest start since 2015, the Giants plated two in the sixth, including the go-ahead run on Denard Span's two-out single. An inning later, Posey padded the lead by smashing a Ryan Buchter fastball off the batter's eye in center field, a Statcast™-projected 422 feet.
The Giants' bullpen took care of the rest with five solid frames to bail out Cueto, who labored more than his final line indicated. He ran his pitch count to 82 as he allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out five in four innings. The right-hander said after the game he was affected by "hot spots" on three fingers on his right hand and he might have to take some time off.
Meanwhile, Padres left-hander Clayton Richard coughed up four runs on 11 hits, bringing his National League-leading total to 142. He allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings, exiting in the sixth after some hard-luck grounders became singles.
"It was a tough one," said Richard. "Clearly, when you have a lead going into the later innings, you expect to come away on top. Wasn't able to do that, so that's disappointing."
Giants left fielder Gorkys Hernandez did the bulk of the damage against Padres pitching, setting a career high with four hits. The bottom three hitters in San Francisco's order -- Hernandez, Joe Panik and Cueto -- combined to go 7-for-10 with a run scored and an RBI.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nickled and dimed: The Giants' sixth-inning rally wasn't exactly a loud one. Joe Panik loaded the bases by topping a grounder to short, slow enough that Erick Aybar had no play anywhere. Pinch-hitter Miguel Gomez followed with a game-tying sacrifice fly, before Span sneaked a chopper through the right side to give the Giants the lead and chase Richard. According to Statcast™, both singles had a hit probability of less than 10 percent.
"He doesn't get punchouts very often," Padres manager Andy Green said of Richard. "That's not his game. It's ground balls, which means we've got to have really good range in the field if he's going to be an effective pitcher. We've got to bounce off bags and make plays for him."
A Blash bash: Prior to the game, the Padres recalled Blash, as Hunter Renfroe hit the disabled list with a neck strain. Since June 1, Blash had posted a 1.111 OPS for Triple-A El Paso, and he stayed red-hot, smashing an RBI double in his first at-bat. He would score on Aybar's single, tying the game, 2-2, in the second inning. Blash finished the day 2-for-4 with a walk.
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Cueto's 82 pitches were his fewest since he threw 76 on Aug. 8 last year in a five-inning start against Miami. He hasn't lasted four innings or fewer since Sept. 6, 2015, when he tossed three frames against the White Sox as a member of the Royals.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW Eduardo Nunez doubled to open the third, then strayed a bit too far off the bag a couple of pitches later, prompting a throw from Padres catcher Austin Hedges. Nunez was initially ruled out for coming off the base as he attempted to scamper back. But replays showed that Nunez's foot never left the bag, and the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: All eyes will be on Madison Bumgarner on Saturday as the left-hander, whose season was interrupted by a dirt-bike accident, makes his first start since April 19 in a 5:40 p.m. PT rematch against the Padres. The four-time All-Star likely will be limited to approximately 100 pitches as he makes his fifth start of the season.
Padres:Jhoulys Chacin will be looking to start his second half in the same way he finished the first. The veteran right-hander has posted a 2.44 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of June. He'll face the Giants Saturday, with first pitch slated for 5:40 p.m. PT.