Padres 5, Giants 3

The San Diego Padres returned to the place where last season’s

collapse was completed. This time, they found a way to avoid

another meltdown.

Will Venable hit his second home run of the season and the

Padres pounced on Tim Lincecum in a 5-3 victory over the San

Francisco Giants on Monday, getting a small dose of satisfaction

against the defending World Series champions.

The Giants eliminated the Padres from playoff contention on the

final day of the 2010 season at AT&T Park. It was the

culmination of a horrible finish that included a 10-game losing

streak stretching into September.

”It had that same feel, tight game where they’re never out of

it,” Venable said. ”As good and consistent as our bullpen is,

they always get it done against them. It always seems like they get

a couple guys on base and make it interesting.”

San Diego built enough of a cushion to withstand the late


Chase Headley, Orlando Hudson and Ryan Ludwick each had an RBI

off Lincecum (6-7) to chase the Giants’ ace after five innings.

Nick Hundley added an RBI single in the eighth and Venable’s solo

shot came in the ninth.

Clayton Richard (5-9) struck out two and gave up two hits and

three walks in five innings. After two separate four-game losing

streaks this season, the lefty has won three straight.

Heath Bell allowed a run in the ninth and put the potential

tying runs in scoring position with one out. Then he got Andres

Torres to fly out and Aaron Rowand to ground out for his 25th


”It just seems like we play these heart-stoppers all the

time,” Padres manager Bud Black said.

The rally came too late for the Giants.

About the lone bright spot before the ninth was Pablo Sandoval,

who hit a two-run homer into McCovey Cove and finished a triple shy

of the cycle. He also extended his career-high hitting streak to 15

games and has an extra-base hit in nine straight.

The Padres wasted little time against Lincecum on a day he was

hardly at his dominating best.

They put a runner on base in all five innings against the

two-time NL Cy Young Award winner. And the aggressive,

free-swinging approach worked from the opening pitch.

Venable and Jason Bartlett singled to start the first. Venable

scored on Headley’s sacrifice fly to center, and Hudson drove in

Bartlett with a single later in the inning to give San Diego a 2-0


After Bartlett doubled to open the fifth, Ludwick hit an RBI

single to put San Diego ahead 3-0. That was enough to get Giants

manager Bruce Bochy to dig into his bullpen early.

Lincecum allowed three runs on seven hits and has only one win

in his last seven starts. He struck out four and walked two in his

shortest outing since going four innings on June 11, and he’s never

had a losing record this late in the season.

”I didn’t feel like I had a good rhythm or energy,” Lincecum

said. ”But that’s the excuse I seem to give every time. I fell

behind hitters and every pitch seemed difficult instead of

cruising. I didn’t have it from the start. You have to grind

through it. I didn’t grind hard enough. I wasn’t hitting my


”It was a pretty bad outing all the way around.”

Richard was in complete control against the offensively

challenged Giants. He induced double plays in the second and fifth,

and the only time San Francisco reached second base against Richard

came on Sandoval’s two-out double in the first.

Richard left after throwing just 76 pitches through five innings

because of shoulder stiffness, which isn’t expected to affect his

next start. He struck out two and gave up two hits and three walks,

and perhaps the Padres should’ve stuck with him longer.

Sandoval smacked a 2-1 pitch from Ernesto Frieri over the

right-field wall for the first splash shot of the season, trimming

San Diego’s lead to 3-2 and sending kayakers scurrying into the

chilly waters for the ball. The home run was the 56th by a Giants

player into McCovey Cove, with 35 belonging to home run king Barry


NOTES: Headley was ejected in the ninth after he struck out

swinging, leaving his bat at home plate and muttering a few words

to umpire Tim Timmons. … Giants OF Cody Ross was replaced by a

pinch-runner in the sixth inning because of a mild left hamstring

strain. He is day to day. … Padres reliever Joe Thatcher threw

about 25 pitches off the mound for the first time since left

shoulder surgery two months ago. … Padres RHP Aaron Harang

(bruised right foot) was scheduled to begin his rehab stint Monday

night at Class-A Lake Elsinore.

Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: