SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—A veteran hitter from the San Francisco Giants’ recent past ruined the night for a pitcher who should be a big part of their near future.
Ponson (0-1), acquired by the NL West leaders in a trade with Baltimore last week, held Pittsburgh scoreless for the first seven innings. Ponson allowed seven hits and retired 10 straight during one stretch, but the Giants couldn’t give him a lead against Josh Fogg, who also pitched six shutout innings.
Sanders played right field for the Giants during last season’s run to the NL pennant, but the team allowed him to leave in the offseason. He still has plenty of friends in San Francisco, but couldn’t deny his excitement after getting the biggest hit in a pitchers’ duel.
“I’m not going to sit here and lie and say it’s not (great),” Sanders said. “Every time you step in between those lines, you want to do well—but especially against your former team.”
In the eighth, Jason Kendall doubled and Brian Giles walked. Sanders hit Ponson’s 109th pitch over Barry Bonds’ head in left, scoring both runners and snapping the Pirates’ 19-inning scoreless streak.
Ponson then tipped his cap to the Pacific Bell Park crowd after he was removed.
“I was a little nervous in the first inning, but after I got the first guy out, it was back to the same feeling,” Ponson said. “Their pitcher threw a good game against us. I’ll just keep going out there and keep doing what I did today. The fans gave me a big welcome in San Francisco, then gave me a standing ovation. Now I’ll have to wait to pitch here again.”
The Pirates won for just the fourth time in their last 21 games in San Francisco, while the Giants lost at home for just the second time in their last 15. San Francisco is 13-6 since the All-Star break.
Tavarez (1-3) pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the victory, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced. He twirled and punched his fist as the final out was recorded in his first victory since last Aug. 30, when he was a starter with Florida.
Ponson was 14-6 with a 3.77 ERA with Baltimore this season. San Francisco expects long starts and dominant performances from Ponson—and the affable right-hander was everything the Giants expected in his debut.
“He’s got a lot of resources,” San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said. “He’s got a good sinker, he gets double plays, he’s got a good changeup and good command of his fastball. But we didn’t score any runs. … I’ll take a two-run outing every time.”
Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon was impressed by Ponson’s performance.
“I thought his slider was exceptional,” McClendon said. “The only bad slider I saw was the one he left up to Reggie.”
Ponson allowed an extra-base hit in each of his first three innings, but otherwise was in control. He retired 10 straight until getting into trouble in the seventh.
But Fogg matched Ponson’s every pitch, retiring 11 straight after Ray Durham’s leadoff single. He needed just 57 pitches to complete his six innings, allowing three hits and a walk while rebounding from two mediocre starts in which he allowed 11 runs.
“I felt great out there,” Fogg said. “The way I’ve been throwing, I’ll take a no-decision with a team win every day of the week.”
Pittsburgh was forced to pull Fogg for a pinch-hitter after loading the bases in the seventh, but Matt Stairs grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Bonds had a bloop single in the fifth to reach base for the 31st straight game.
Durham returned to the Giants’ lineup after missing three games with a hip injury, but was replaced by Cody Ransom in the third inning after reaggravating his strained right hamstring. Neifi Perez, starting at shortstop while Rich Aurilia is out following an appendectomy, moved to second, and Ransom playedshortstop.
After the game, Pittsburgh scratched RHP Salomon Torres from his scheduled start on Thursday. Torres, who pitched for the Giants from 1993-95, strained his right hamstring while making a leaping catch during batting practice Wednesday. Ryan Vogelsong, a former Giants farmhand, will get the start. … Ransom, recalled from Triple-A Fresno on Monday, was named the Giants’ top minor league player for July after hitting .318 with five homers. … Sanders’ hit snapped an 0-for-14 Pittsburgh slump with runners in scoring position. Sanders has 15 RBIs in his last 12 games. … The Giants (70-43)dropped four games behind Atlanta (74-39) for the majors’ best record.