SAN DIEGO — Thanks to Johnny Cueto and a power-packed day from the heart of the lineup, the Giants avoided the sweep.
Cueto went seven strong and the Giants hit two early homers, beating the Padres 5-3. They lost season-opening series in Phoenix and San Diego, but won both of Cueto’s starts, finishing 2-5 on the trip. Mark Melancon closed the week with his first save as a Giant.
Facing left-hander Clayton Richard, the right-handers in the lineup tried to take the tension out of the game early on. Chris Marrero’s first hit as a Giant drove Buster Posey in and an error on the play made it 2-0. Hunter Pence hit a two-run blast to left in the third inning and Posey made it back-to-back jacks when he went the opposite way.
Cueto worked around two singles in the first and then retired 14 of 15. The streak ended with a walk of Travis Jankowski in the sixth and Will Myers took advantage of an elevated fastball, crushing a two-run shot off the Western Metal Supply Co. building. A bizarre infield single, walk and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases as Cory Gearrin warmed up in the bullpen. But Cueto got Erick Aybar to pop up to third, ending the threat.
Cueto threw 109 pitches, and the Padres immediately inched closer once he got the handshake from Bruce Bochy. Yangervis Solarte greeted Derek Law in the eighth with a solo homer and Ryan Schimpf drew a walk, but Law got out of the inning without further damage.
Melancon was going to pitch no matter the score Sunday, as he had been off since Opening Day. He put two runners on, but Myers bounced into a game-ending double play.
Starting pitching report: Cueto muscled through some late trouble, finishing with just two runs allowed in seven innings. He struck out seven, walked three, and hit one.
Bullpen report: Moves on the field often tell you more than answers off of it. Cueto hit for himself to lead off the seventh, even though he had thrown 95 pitches and had his roughest inning in the sixth. Tells you a lot about the trust in the bullpen’s ability to hold leads.
At the plate: Marrero’s single to right was the first hit of the season by a Giants left fielder. The trio — Marrero, Jarrett Parker, a little bit of Aaron Hill — had started 0-for-22.
In the field: Nothing all that noteworthy happened either way.
Attendance: The Padres packed the house again. That was the biggest surprise of the road trip.
Up next: Matt Moore pitched the last home game of 2016. He gets the home opener, against Taijuan Walker and the Diamondbacks.