Padres 5, Giants 3

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—The San Diego Padres are on their way to the best month in franchise history, and their impeccable relievers have been a big reason for it.

The Giants can only dream of such relief.

Phil Nevin hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, and the Padres rallied against San Francisco’s beleaguered bullpen for a 5-3 victory Saturday.

The Giants acquired right-hander LaTroy Hawkins from the Chicago Cubs before the game in a three-player trade, but the veteran wasn’t in town to prevent another late-inning collapse by San Francisco’s staff.

Meanwhile, San Diego’s bullpen put on another show as the Padres won their 19th game in May, tying the franchise record for victories in a month.

Rudy Seanez (3-0) struck out the side in the seventh on 13 pitches. Scott Linebrink pitched a perfect eighth to extend his scoreless streak to 11 2-3 innings. Trevor Hoffman allowed his first run in May, but struck out Michael Tucker with two runners on for his 12th straight save.

Both clubs are aware relief pitching is a big strength for San Diego—and a big liability for the Giants.

“We talked about it in the dugout,” said Nevin, who broke his second-place tie with Dave Winfield on the franchise’s career homers list. “You like our chances with our bullpen going against anybody else’s. Not to say anything bad about their bullpen, but we’ve had some great performances out of those guys all year.”

In the eighth, Jeff Fassero (1-2) allowed Geoff Blum’s one-out single and walked Brian Giles. Closer Tyler Walker relieved, but Nevin hit a full-count pitch deep into the left-field stands for his eighth homer of the season—just his second since May 1.

Hawkins will be the Giants’ eighth-inning setup man, and he can’t arrive soon enough for Walker.

“It was supposed to be a slider down and away, and I left it up over the plate,” Walker said. “It’s tough to swallow right now. It was the right call, but a bad pitch.”

Ramon Hernandez homered and had three hits for the Padres, who trailed 2-1 in the seventh before tying it on Xavier Nady’s RBI groundout against starter Noah Lowry.

Hoffman allowed Mike Matheny’s RBI single in the ninth but earned his 12th straight save since April 30 and his 15th in 17 opportunities overall.

“We get a lead like that with a couple of innings left, and we feel like it’s our game,” said rookie Tim Stauffer, who allowed six hits and two walks in another solid start for San Diego. “Coming out of a game with a lead, you know you’re probably going to get the win.”

Moises Alou homered and drove in two runs for the Giants, who lost their third straight following a four-game winning streak. The first-place Padres have taken five of seven from their upstate rivals this season.

Alou drove in Omar Vizquel with a first-inning single, then homered to left in the fourth. It was the third homer in four games for the veteran slugger.

Lowry dominated the first six innings, though he needed 101 pitches to do it. Only Hernandez hit him hard, with a long fly in the second and his sixth homer of the season in the fourth.

But in the seventh, Hernandez singled, advanced to third on Khalil Greene’s double and scored on Nady’s groundout. Lowry yielded five hits and struck out five in seven innings.

Stauffer hasn’t won in three starts since his debut May 11, but he recovered from a rocky first inning and eventually retired seven of his last eight batters.

The Giants traded right-handers Jerome Williams and David Aardsma for Hawkins, who struggled with consistency, fan derision and media criticism in Chicago. He’ll be Walker’s top setup man in San Francisco.

“This is all going to change (Sunday),” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “We’ll have a guy to pitch the eighth inning, and I can use Walker in the ninth.”


Hoffman, who got his 408th career save, has converted 12 straight save opportunities overall. … Seanez needed just 13 pitches to strike out the side. … Stauffer’s pop fly in the third inning landed for a single when the wind blew it out of Vizquel’s reach. … With gorgeous weather and a holiday crowd, the Giants had their sixth sellout of the season.

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