SAN FRANCISCO -- There wasn't a lot to lament from the pitching side of things over the weekend against the Giants, as Padres pitchers kept the team in every game, allowed a total of nine runs and handed out just two walks, both coming Sunday.
But as a definite sign as to how small the Padres' margin for error has become, not even strong pitching could get them anything more than one victory, as they fell to the Giants, 4-1, before a sold-out crowd at AT&T Park on a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon.
In fact, one solitary walk essentially torpedoed any chance of the Padres (7-16) winning their first series of the season.
With one out in the sixth inning and the Giants (12-10) holding onto a 2-1 lead, Padres pitcher Clayton Richard -- who allowed two runs in the first inning -- got ahead of Buster Posey with two strikes. Posey then fouled off a pitch before looking at four successive balls for a walk.
"You never know how a walk it going to turn out," Padres manager Bud Black said.
That's probably because Black hadn't seen a walk in a while. Before the Posey walk, Padres pitchers had gone 26 consecutive innings and 104 successive batters faced without a walk, going back to a game Thursday against the Nationals.
It's the first time since 2007 the Padres had gone that long without a walk. The last time the Giants had gone three consecutive games without taking a walk was June 4-6, 1976.
But that walk loomed large when, after Brett Pill doubled to send Posey to third base, Joaquin Arias got a pitch up and out over the plate, driving it the other way to right field. The ball kept carrying and a Will Venable leap near the fence proved futile as two runs scored to make it 4-1.
"The Posey at-bat with the walk really hurt us," Richard said. "If we get him, then it's a different inning. The odds are in your favor when you get them to put the ball in play."
The three-run deficit with nine outs left was more than the Padres could overcome, especially with the way they've been hitting -- they scored seven runs in this series -- and with the way Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner (4-1) was pitching.
This start is a far cry from 2011 when Bumgarner went 0-6 to open the season.
"I think that a pitcher's record is a little bit overrated. There are so many factors that you can't control that go into it. But it's nice to have a lot of wins," Bumgarner said. "You don't want to lose."
The Padres got to Bumgarner for a run in the fifth inning on a Chris Denorfia RBI double, but the left-hander was sharp otherwise, as he allowed one run on six hits in 7 2/3 innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
About the only Padres hitter with any success against Bumgarner is Denorfia, who had two hits, giving him nine -- the most any Major League player has against the Giants left-hander.
"He threw a lot of strikes but we missed some pitches and we didn't get on base enough," said Padres first baseman Jesus Guzman, who had a one-out double in the second inning but was left stranded at third base.
"It's frustrating. It's sad. We're trying to put everything together but we can't."
While the Padres' hitting and defense has been spotty during this vexing start, the pitching has mostly been strong. Richard (1-3) lamented his slow start Sunday, when he allowed a leadoff single to Angel Pagan and then threw away a pickoff throw that allowed Pagan to advance to third base.
Melky Cabrera, the second batter of the game, then hit a fly ball to Venable for sacrifice fly. Pablo Sandoval, who had his 20-game hitting streak snapped Saturday, jumped on a pitch out and over the plate, sending it into the left-field seats.
"I failed to execute a pitch," Richard said.
Richard retired 14 of the next 16 hitters he faced and pitched through the seventh inning, allowing the four runs on eight hits. He got 11 ground-ball outs.
"The ball-strike ratio wasn't great early but then he started throwing a lot of strikes after that," Black said. "And he got his grounders. But the big hit was the [triple] in a key situation."