Giants' Petit so close to perfection

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Yusmeiro Petit believes he pitched a perfect game on Friday night, even if the scoreboard would beg to differ.

The 29-year-old came within one strike of the second perfect game in San Francisco Giants history, settling for a one-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

   One batter after pinch-hitter Eric Chavez had dumped a two-out, two-strike single inches in front of a diving Hunter Pence in right field in the top of the ninth inning, Petit retired A.J. Pollock on a grounder to third and threw his hands in the air.

   After having been cut in training camp by the Giants and designated for assignment during the season, his dream of re-establishing himself as a major-league pitcher had come true -- even if it was in the form of a complete game rather than a perfect game.

   "That was my first complete game in the big leagues," he said through interpreter Jose Alguaril. "It felt as good as a perfect game."

   Relying heavily on curveballs and sliders that painted the corners of the plate, Petit took Chavez to a full count with two outs in the top of the ninth before the veteran got just enough of a fastball to drop a single inches from Pence's glove, ending the string of 26 consecutive batters retired.

   Nobody felt worse about that than Pence, who scored all three of the Giants' runs, the third coming on his 19th home run of the season in the eighth inning.

   "I gave it my best effort; it just wasn't enough," said Pence, who made a diving catch in right field to save Tim Lincecum's no-hitter earlier this season. "It felt like one of those dreams when you can't run fast enough. It was a little bit too far."

   Making just his third start since being promoted from Triple-A Fresno on Aug. 23, Petit nearly duplicated the feat of Matt Cain, who pitched the only perfect game in Giants history last season against the Houston Astros on June 13.

   Remaining unbeaten since his call-up, Petit struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.

   "It doesn't get any closer than that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was a beautiful game, a tremendous display of pitching. He was pounding the strike zone all day with quality strikes.

   "I couldn't be happier for him, the way he fought his way back up here. He's sending a message this is where he belongs."

   In beating Arizona for the second time in six days, Petit needed little defensive help. Only two of Arizona's first 26 batters even came close to getting a hit.

   The defensive play of the night came in left field from defensive replacement Juan Perez, who raced forward, dived and backhanded rival pitcher Patrick Corbin's bid for a hit with two outs in the sixth.

   "When Perez made that play, I realized what was going on"" Petit said. "After that, I was more careful with my pitches.

   "I didn't feel nervous at all. I felt the crowd behind me, giving me strength. And the umpire (Phil Cuzzi) was calling a lot of strikes."

   Even though it will go down in history as merely the second lost perfect game on the 27th batter of the 2013 season (it happened to Texas' Yu Darvish as well on April 2), it was a night that Bochy and Pence insisted they'd never forget.

   "You like to have some highlights in a tough season and this is one of them," Bochy said. "He had the fans behind him like a playoff game.

   "We won the game, but you could see the disappointment in the players coming off the field. They really wanted it."

   Pence said, "That was an adrenaline rush. It was amazing to be a part of. It's moments like that when you come to the ballpark, you know something special can happen. That was one of those special moments."

   Chavez had been in a 2-for-20 slump.

   "I had a feeling I was going to pinch-hit at some time during the night, but I had no idea it was going to be with two outs in the top of the ninth," he said. "I had never faced him and he was obviously locked in tonight. You try to give your best at-bat and it worked out."

   Corbin (13-6) was the hard-luck loser for the Diamondbacks. Going the distance for the second time in his last four starts, the All-Star gave up the three runs and eight hits. He walked one and struck out five.

   The loss cost the Diamondbacks a game in the wild-card standings. They now trail the Cincinnati Reds, who beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, by 8 1/2 games.

   NOTES: Petit became the 12th pitcher in major-league history to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning. ... Petit was making his 40th major league start. He had 23 as a member of the Diamondbacks from 2007 to 2009. He was 9-19 with a 5.05 ERA in 45 total appearances for Arizona. ... Diamondbacks SS Chris Owings, one of the franchise's top prospects, made his first major league start. Owings was the Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player this season. Owings also was the PCL Rookie of the Year, making him the second consecutive Diamondbacks player to sweep the two postseason awards. OF Adam Eaton received that distinction in 2012. ... Giants CF Angel Pagan improved his hitting streak to 11 games with a fifth-inning single. ... Giants C/1B Buster Posey sat out his third consecutive game because of continued swelling in the tip of his right ring finger. He hopes to return this weekend.
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