AT&T PARK — When the San Francisco Giants last saw the San Diego Padres, the Giants were the kings of the National League West and the owners of the best record in baseball.
It was the first series of the second half — a series the Padres swept, highlighted by a Santiago Casilla balk-off in the middle game — that sent the Giants tumbling face first into a post All-Star break slide in which they’ve posted the worst record in baseball.
The losing streak to the Padres — who are sporting the third-worst record in the NL — extended to four games on Monday night, as the Giants had no answers for journeyman Paul Clemens, who carried a 5.44 ERA into the game.
The 4-0 loss also extended the Giants’ deficit in the division to four games after the Los Angeles Dodgers topped the New York Yankees, 8-2, earlier in the night. With both the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals losing, the Giants remained 1.5 games ahead of the former and two games ahead of the latter in the wild-card standings.
Jeff Samardzija, who entered the contest with a 2.45 ERA in his last six starts, allowed four earned runs in his six innings of work. Half of those runs came in the top of the sixth when former Giants’ backstop Hector Sanchez hooked a two-run blast just inside the foul pole atop the brick arcade in right field.
“The one pitch that I know he’d like to get back is the one that went for the home run,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “That was a two-strike hanger that got away from him.”
The home run was the 24th that Samardzija has served up in his 29 starts, but just the second he’s allowed in his last seven outings.
“Obviously, the two-run homer put a sour taste in my mouth with the way things were going,” Samardzija said. ”Unfortunately, [it was] a splitter that was a little up in the zone.”
After Samardzija breezed through the first three innings on 45 pitches, the Padres claimed a 1-0 advantage in the top of the fourth — thanks in part to some suspect defending from Angel Pagan.
The left fielder played what should have been a single into a leadoff triple sliding across the grass as Luis Sardinas’ looping line drive bounced past him and rolled all the way to the wall. Yangervis Solarte promptly stepped to the plate and grounded an RBI single up the middle.
An inning later, Solarte was also batting when the visitors doubled their advantage. With the bases loaded, the Padres first baseman hit a slow grounder to Joe Panik, who nearly started an inning-ending double play.
Against Clemens, who blanked the Giants across five innings of three-hit ball, the best chance came in the third.
Crawford and Pence strung together back-to-back one-out singles before Brandon Belt hit a shallow fly ball to left and Panik grounded out to second after a wild pitch had allowed both runners to advance.
The Giants also failed to capitalize on a one-out double from Samardzija in the fifth. Denard Span followed the starter by popping out to second and Pagan struck out looking.
“You’ve got to get a hit with runners on base,” Bochy said. “That was not there tonight. We had some pretty good hitters up there, too. We just couldn’t get that big hit to get us rolling.”
In four innings against the Padres’ pen, the Giants didn’t get any runners past first base.
The closest the team came to sparking a rally was in the bottom of the eighth when Pence skied a towering fly ball to the warning track in left-center field, which for a moment, looked like it might go for a two-run homer.
“Sure, it looks bad to go out and get shut out when you go home the first day,” Bochy said. “But we’re staying behind these guys.”