Never much of a postseason performer, Jake Peavy sure outpitched Stephen Strasburg in the former No. 1 pick's playoff debut.
Guess that October aura the San Francisco Giants proudly own has rubbed off on Peavy.
The intense right-hander took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, San Francisco's bullpen barely held onto a lead, and the wild-card Giants won their ninth consecutive postseason game by beating Strasburg's Washington Nationals 3-2 on Friday in an NL Division Series opener.
Peavy won the 2007 Cy Young Award but was 0-3 with a 9.27 ERA in five previous starts beyond the regular season. This time, the 33-year-old right-hander threw 5 2-3 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits.
Buster Posey, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt drove in San Francisco's runs.
Game 2 is Saturday, with Washington's Jordan Zimmermann — who threw a no-hitter in the regular-season finale — facing Tim Hudson.
Peavy was lifted after his third walk, then screamed and cursed as he stomped toward the dugout with two runners aboard in the sixth. Reliever Javier Lopez walked his only hitter, loading the bases.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy turned to Hunter Strickland, a rookie with all of seven innings on his major league resume. Calm as a 10-year veteran, Strickland took care of Ian Desmond — 8 for 12 with a grand slam and 17 RBIs with the bases full this season — on four pitches: 99 mph ball, 98 mph swing-and-miss, 99 mph called strike, 100 mph swing-and-miss.
But in the seventh, Strickland allowed Bryce Harper's upper-deck homer to right on a 97 mph fastball and, one out later, Asdrubal Cabrera hit pretty much the same pitch over the wall in right, too, making it 3-2.
Reliever Jeremy Affeldt for the last out in the seventh. The Nationals put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth against Sergio Romo, but he struck out Desmond and got Harper on a grounder.
Santiago Casilla pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, famously was held out of the 2012 playoffs because the Nationals wanted to protect his surgically repaired right elbow. Finally getting his chance on the big stage, he showed up with his best material, hitting 99 mph with his fastball and 91 mph with his changeup in the first inning.
He lasted five-plus innings, allowing eight hits — all singles, all to center or right field — and two runs, one earned. He tied for the NL lead this season with a career-high 242 strikeouts, but only managed two, in part because the Giants rarely missed when they swung.
Peavy, meanwhile, did not top 92 mph, but that didn't matter. He put pitches where he wanted them, often barely over the black edge of the plate.
The first hit he allowed was by Harper in the fifth, a bouncing single off the glove of diving first baseman Belt. As Harper ran through the bag, he yelled, “Let's go!” and looked toward the dugout, pumping his arms. But any notion of a rally there was quickly silenced when Peavy got Wilson Ramos to ground into a first-pitch, 4-6-3 double play, followed by Cabrera's inning-ending foul pop.
There were other examples of the 96-win NL East champion Nationals being jumpier than the wild-card Giants, who won two of the past four World Series titles. Remember, too, the Nationals hadn't played since Sunday, while the Giants beat Pittsburgh in the wild-card game Wednesday.
In the third, for example, Ramos was charged with a passed ball, leading to an unearned run off Strasburg. First baseman Adam LaRoche also made a late throw to second that inning on a play in which the baserunner originally was called out; that was reversed to safe after a replay review.
Giants: OF Michael Morse was left off San Francisco's NLDS roster because he's still dealing with a strained oblique muscle. He could be sent to the instructional league to get some at-bats in hopes of playing later in the postseason.
RHP Hudson (9-13, 3.57 ERA in the regular season) owns a season's worth of starts against the Nationals over his career — mostly for Atlanta — and has gone 18-5 with a 2.35 ERA. Only one current Nationals player, LF Jayson Werth, has a good track record: .386, four homers, 12 RBIs. Zimmermann (14-5, 2.66) allowed two runs in eight innings of a 6-2 win over San Francisco on Aug. 23. Giants RF Hunter Pence is 8 for 20 with two homers against Zimmermann.
Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval's single off Strasburg in the third extended his postseason hitting streak to a club-record 12 games.