SAN FRANCISCO -- It's largely been a game of hide-and-seek for Padres pitcher Jason Marquis, who has been attempting to locate some semblance of comfort and consistency to his delivery in recent weeks.
The funny thing is, it took him five innings to find it Wednesday against the Giants, although looks were certainly deceiving with the way the Padres pitcher was cruising along at AT&T Park.
Marquis retired 16 consecutive hitters at one point and allowed one earned run while pitching into the eighth inning as the Padres edged the Giants, 6-3, before a sold-out crowd of 41,871, thus avoiding the sweep in this three-game series.
Marquis' strong start, closer Huston Street's four-out save and two home runs by Jesus Guzman were enough as the Padres extended the misery of Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who fell to 4-11 on the season, though he certainly looked on top of his game early.
"He came out firing. He still had seven strikeouts in four innings," Padres manager Bud Black said of Lincecum, who allowed a first-inning homer to Chase Headley. "He came out establishing the fastball. He's still got a good arm."
But Lincecum looked like he started to tire early, as the Padres got to him for two runs in the fourth as Will Venable -- who struck out in the first and third innings -- jumped on a breaking ball and sent it into center field where Angel Pagan converged on the ball.
Shades of Tuesday when Pagan made a diving grab of a Carlos Quentin ball in the left-center gap that would have knocked in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning? Venable said that he wasn't completely sure Pagan wouldn't catch this ball as well.
"No, I wasn't sure it was going to fall," Venable said. "But I was glad it did."
So were the Padres, who extended the lead to 5-1 when Guzman hit the first of his two home runs in the fifth inning. He later added a solo home run off Brad Penny in the eighth inning.
The home run off Lincecum was on a ball up in the strike zone, similar location to the pitch he singled on in the fourth inning.
"He had been throwing me that pitch [high fastball] ... I was just looking for something up in the zone. I put a good swing on it," Guzman said.
This was the first career multi-home run game for Guzman.
Those runs proved enough for Marquis, who allowed a broken-bat single to leadoff hitter Gregor Blanco and later a run in the inning on a sacrifice fly. But after that, he didn't allow much.
Marquis retired 16 consecutive hitters from the second inning into the seventh inning when he allowed a two-out single in the seventh inning to Pagan.
Marquis allowed one earned on three hits in 7 1/3 innings with one walk and eight strikeouts.
"This was one of the better games I've seen him pitch, and I played with Jason a while in Chicago," said Giants second baseman Ryan Theriot. "He was sinking the fastball and he had a great slider going today."
From Marquis' point of view, he felt like his mechanics were something akin to a mess in recent weeks and even into today's start where he felt his "arm was flopping around."
"I've been searching the last week for my delivery," he said. "It was messing with my release point. But about the fifth inning, I started feeling better."
Marquis worked into the eighth inning, though an error on shortstop Everth Cabrera led to some drama in the inning. The Giants scored twice in the inning, once on a wild pitch by Marquis. The Padres used relievers Joe Thatcher, Luke Gregerson and then finally Street to get out of the inning.
Street came in to face Melky Cabrera with the Padres now nursing a three-run lead and with a runner at third base. Four pitches later, and after getting Cabrera to swing through two changeups, the inning was finally over.
"A couple of National League All-Stars going at it," Black said. "You saw the fastball for a strike and a couple of nice changeups. Melky is a tough out. That was a good matchup of two guys at the top of their game."