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SD@SF: Despaigne pitches seven scoreless in MLB debut

Before facing San Diego rookie Odrisamer Despaigne in his Major League debut last month, the Giants didn't know what they'd see. Three hours later, they didn't know what they hadn't seen from Despaigne.

"At this point in the year, we've seen practically everything. But he was just on," right fielder Hunter Pence said after seven scoreless innings from Despaigne. "He was locating [well], he had the ball moving in a lot of different directions, he had a lot of different pitches. He threw me pretty much everything. I saw an extremely slow curveball, I saw a slider, I saw a cutter, I saw a sinker, I saw a sidearm sinker. He didn't really leave too much over the plate."

Despaigne, a 27-year-old Cuban who signed a Minor League deal in May, threw seven scoreless innings against the Giants in his big league debut June 23. Six days later, he allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings in a win over the D-backs.

Yes, the sample size is small, but Despaigne -- no ordinary rookie based on his international resume -- has found success with a dizzying array of pitches, grips and arm angles. He's offering teammates, coaches and fans a look not often found around the game.

"He's so unique," said Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley of Despaigne, who has patterned a lot of what he does after idol and fellow countryman Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.

What he's done, so far, is flummox the opposition.

"We didn't know what kind of pitcher he was," said Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco, who went 1-for-3 off Despaigne. "We didn't know how his screwball or his changeup were. We didn't even know he had a cutter until the first time I faced the guy. We got to give him credit. He kept us a step off balance and located his pitches."

Perhaps the not-so-long-ago experience with facing Despaigne will prove beneficial for the Giants in their second go-around with him Saturday. He's facing them at a good time, though, as the Giants' offense has struggled mightily in the last month.

Attempting to quell the Padres' offense will be Tim Hudson, who's been the Giants' Mr. Reliable this season, though he's lost his last three starts.

Padres: About that Ross shutout
Tyson Ross' first shutout Wednesday against the Reds was the second by a Padres pitcher this season, as Andrew Cashner went the distance without allowing a run -- and just one hit -- April 11 against the Tigers.

As for Ross, he became the fifth pitcher in franchise history to throw a shutout during which he struck out nine or more and walked none. Kevin Jarvis was the last Padres pitcher to accomplish this feat (April 26, 2001). The other Padres pitchers to do so are Eric Show, Tim Lollar and Clay Kirby.

However, Ross did become the first pitcher in club history to throw a shutout, allow three or fewer hits, strike out nine or more and walk none. Ross finished with a season-high 120 pitches, but manager Bud Black had no qualms about letting him finish this one.

"I think today was a game where I think he really smelled the finish line," said Black. "We've talked about that, Tyson and I, that there was going to come a time for this game. We talked just briefly after the eighth and there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to go back out there and put a zero up."

Giants: Hudson takes the mound
With the Giants' offense struggling, it's a good time for Hudson to make his next start.

He has the Majors' 10th-lowest ERA (2.59) and has thrown at least seven innings in 11 of his 15 starts. The Giants are 10-5 in those 15 starts, but they've lost each of his last three outings.

The last defeat wasn't his fault, though. Hudson allowed just two earned runs on five hits on eight innings against the Reds. He was shelled for 11 runs in his prior two starts, but had given up four or more runs in a start just once in his first 13 outings.

Hudson is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 21 1/3 innings during three career starts against the Padres.

Worth noting
• Before being called up to the Majors, Despaigne posted a 1-3 record and 6.03 ERA in seven Double-A and Triple-A appearances since he joined the Padres organization in early May.

• Saturday is the second of a three-game series. The Giants have lost six of their last seven series.

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