SAN DIEGO — After backup catcher Hector Sanchez hit another big home run for the San Diego Padres, a Wally Pipp joke began making the rounds in the dugout, aimed at Austin Hedges.
Hedges isn't in danger of losing his job, and probably will back behind the plate as soon as Monday night. But Sanchez more than proved his reliability when he hit a three-run homer in the Padres' 7-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.
Corey Spangenberg also hit a three-run shot off Jeff Samardzija as the Padres took two of three in a matchup of two baseball's worst teams.
Pipp, of course, took a day off for the New York Yankees in 1925 and Lou Gehrig began his streak of playing in 2,130 consecutive games, the big league record until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in 1995.
Hedges, who sat for two games as a precaution after getting hit in the facemask with a foul ball Friday night, "is pretty safe," manager Andy Green said.
"The good news is he was sensitive to it, so that means he has some mental clarity," Green said. "So I think he'll be out there soon."
Sanchez hit a no-doubt, two-run walk-off homer with one out in the ninth inning of Saturday night's 5-3 win.
His homer Sunday bounced off the top of the short wall in right-centre with one out in the first. Spangenberg's shot went to straightaway centre with one out in the third.
It was the fifth homer for Sanchez, who has only nine hits this season, and the sixth for Spangenberg.
What does Green like best about Sanchez's at-bats?
"Home runs. I'm partial to those. You score every time you hit one," the skipper said. "He competes. He always takes aggressive passes. If he strikes out, or doesn't have a great at-bat, it's not because he got cheated. He took some good swings today. Two really good games to have him out there."
Sanchez, who played with the Giants for portions of the 2011-15 seasons, said he works hard to be ready when called on.
"That's what you're looking for, is an opportunity to help your team win," Sanchez said. "Bad thing Hedges is hurt, but you have to be there to help your team. You have to be ready in case that kind of stuff happens."
Hedges said he probably could have pinch-hit Sunday, if needed.
He's impressed with Sanchez.
"He's been outstanding," Hedges said. "He does a really good job with our pitchers. He's a leader back there. He calls a really good game and obviously he's a great hitter, too. He's been playing really, really well."
The Giants remain mired in last place in the NL West and Samardzija (4-11) is tied with Colorado's Tyler Chatwood for the most losses in the NL. He allowed seven runs on nine hits in six innings while striking out eight and walking none.
"I think it's more of a momentum thing than a talent-personnel thing," Samardzija said of the team's woes.
"Listen, every day's a chance to play big league baseball. So I think no matter what the situation is in the season, or if things are going good or bad, every day you go out there you get a chance to play this game," he said. "You don't take it for granted. You leave everything out there every day, every opportunity you get to play this game. You don't know how long it's going to go for. You go out and give it all."
Spangenberg also tripled in the third and scored on Erick Aybar's double.
San Francisco scored its run off Trevor Cahill (4-3) on consecutive doubles by Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford in the second. Cahill went 6 2/3 innings to get his first win since May 8. He spent a month and a half on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.
Giants: 1B Brandon Belt was scratched a few hours before first pitch with a sprained left wrist, forcing Bruce Bochy to juggle his lineup. Buster Posey moved from catcher to first base, Nick Hundley caught and Hunter Pence moved from No. 6 in the order to third.
Padres: Before the game, Green said Hedges does not have a concussion but is suffering from "general haze."
Giants: San Francisco returns home to open a three-game series against Cleveland on Monday night, when LHP Matt Moore (3-9, 6.04) is scheduled to start against Josh Tomlin (5-9, 5.90).
Padres: RHP Luis Perdomo (4-4, 4.54) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at Colorado. The Rockies are set to counter with RHP German Marquez (6-4, 4.36).
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