SAN FRANCISCO--The San Francisco Giants just wanted a back-of-the-rotation starter when they dealt for Jake Peavy last month. The veteran has been much more than that, and on Saturday he gave them yet another magical night at AT&T Park.
Peavy fell five outs short of a no-hitter but did more than enough to clinch a 3-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, his third victory in seven starts for the Giants, who won their fifth straight game and have taken a series from a winning team for the first time in three months.
Peavy has a 2.66 ERA since coming over from Boston on July 26. He walked three Brewers and hit one but didn't give up a hit until Mark Reynolds poked a broken-bat flare into right field with one down in the eighth.
Peavy was perfect through the first 61/3 innings of his second start with the Giants, and he had the same repertoire humming Saturday. He struck out two in the first and got Aramis Ramirez to lead off the second, becoming the fifth active pitcher to reach 2,000 career strikeouts. Peavy reached the mark three days after teammate Tim Hudson.
The 33-year-old struck out the side in the third, but the Brewers finally got a runner on when Carlos Gomez drew a walk leading off the fourth. Gomez was thrown out by Buster Posey while trying to steal second, and Peavy got a strikeout and ground out to end the inning.
Ramirez opened the fifth with a sharp grounder deep into the hole between short and third, but Brandon Crawford stretched out to glove it as he reached the outfield grass. Crawford spun and made a perfect throw to first as his momentum took him into left field, getting Peavy his 13th out.
Peavy followed the highlight play with three consecutive fly outs before walking Jean Segura with one out in the sixth. After a sacrifice and another walk, Peavy got MVP candidate Jonathan Lucroy to ground into a fielder's choice. Through six, Peavy had thrown 84 pitches.
Manager Bruce Bochy always has his eye on the hits column of the scoreboard, and he started maneuvering as Peavy came back out for the seventh. Travis Ishikawa was put at first base in place of Michael Morse, who is not a strong defender but helped give Peavy a 3-0 lead to work with. After back-to-back singles by Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence in the fourth, Morse crushed a double to the wall in center, scoring both. Morse tagged up on Gregor Blanco's high fly to center and raced home on Crawford's single to right.
Peavy's dominance was made more impressive by the lineup he was facing, one full of All-Stars and power hitters. Ryan Braun flied out to center to start the seventh, but Peavy put another runner on when an inside pitch nicked Ramirez. Once again, he was saved by Crawford.
The shortstop has had a rough stretch at the plate and some uncharacteristic errors in the field, but the play he made to end the seventh was one of the best of his highlight-heavy career. Scooter Gennett smoked a changeup up the middle, but Crawford sprawled out and gloved it about a dozen feet to the left of the second base bag. Crawford doesn't like to flip balls directly out of his glove, but with a no-hitter on the line, he made a perfect glove-flip to second baseman Joe Panik, who threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
Peavy screamed as he bounced off the mound having thrown 99 pitches, 26 shy of his career-high. For the first time in his 13 years as a big league pitcher, Peavy was through seven no-hit innings.
A year ago, Pablo Sandoval likely would have joined Morse on the bench. But Sandoval's commitment to conditioning has turned him into one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball, and he made a strong throw from far behind the bag to get the first out of the eighth.
Peavy got two strikes on Reynolds, but a fastball that was supposed to be down and away cut up toward the heart of the plate. Reynolds didn't get a good hack off but managed to punch Peavy's 108th pitch into shallow right field. Peavy got one more strikeout before departing to a standing ovation from a sellout crowd that chanted his last name. He tipped his cap as he headed for the dugout steps, his bid for history washed away.
The Giants improved to 73-62 and took a series from a team over .500 for the first time since May 29-June 1, when they won three of four in St. Louis.
(c)2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services