SAN DIEGO — The play ended in a chorus of boos, fans pelting objects on to the field and John Brebbia standing on the mound waiting to throw the next pitch. Somehow, some way, the red-bearded fellow was still preserving a lead.
For fans who have tuned in all season and might have forgotten: that is what stellar defense can do. It can change the tide of the game so quickly, so dramatically that it provokes visceral reactions from a sold-out ballpark.
The decibel level inside Petco Park hardly changed as the Monday night crowd of 40,686 shifted from raucously cheering Ha-Seong Kim’s game-tying double off Brebbia to vociferously booing as crew chief Larry Vanover announced over the loudspeakers that Gabe Kapler’s highest-stakes challenge this season had been ruled successful.
The perfectly executed relay from Luis González, in the furthest reaches of the left-field corner, to shortstop Brandon Crawford and, finally, to catcher Joey Bart preserved one of Alex Wood’s strongest starts of the season and paved the way to a 1-0 win over the Padres in the opener of this three-game series.
Bart laid the tag on Brandon Drury and immediately signaled toward the Giants dugout to challenge the call when home plate umpire Sean Barber initially ruled Drury safe. Freeze frames in the replay — it was that close — showed Bart applying the tag as Drury’s hand hovered over home plate.
The play came on the first batter Brebbia faced after relieving Wood, who blanked the Padres for 6⅓ innings in his fourth-longest start of the season.
The win was the Giants’ first in 12 games against the National League West — snapping a franchise-long losing streak to divisional opponents — gave them their first three-game winning streak since the All-Star break and pulled them within 5.5 games of San Diego in the NL wild card race.
Camilo Doval shut the door in the ninth by retiring Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Josh Bell in order.
Scoreboard for the Soto era in San Diego: Giants 1, Padres 0.
After the Padres were swept by the Dodgers this past weekend, their new slugger declared: “Don’t be surprised if you see all these guys going off next series.” Fact check: questionable, at least in Monday’s opener.
Wood limited San Diego to three hits before leaving the game with one out in the seventh. One of those knocks snuck past J.D. Davis at third base on a check swing by Soto. The other was a 338-foot single by Manny Machado. And the third, a solid line drive to left by Brandon Drury with one down in the seventh, brought manager Gabe Kapler out with the hook.
The Giants had no shortage of scoring opportunities, despite the pretty line put up by Padres starter Blake Snell (eight strikeouts, one run allowed in 5⅔ innings). While Wood didn’t allow a Padre to advance past first base, the Giants had runners in scoring position with no outs twice in the first four innings.
Thairo Estrada delivered the only run out of the two prime chances with a sac fly in the fourth that followed three straight line-drive singles to lead off the inning. Evan Longoria, in his first game back from the injured list, started the rally and scored on Estrada’s sac fly.
Estrada also lined a single to center, stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch in the ninth. But the potential insurance run was left standing 90 feet away, as one of eight runners the Giants stranded Monday.
Bart, with a single and a walk, joined Estrada as the only Giants to reach base multiple times and extended his hitting streak to a season-high five games. Since returning from Triple-A last month, Bart has raised his average from .156 to .214.