Sanchez strikes out career-high 10 as Giants win in Baker's return

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jonathan Sanchez dominated Cincinnati in Dusty Baker's Bay Area return as manager of the Reds.

Sanchez pitched into the ninth and matched his career high with 10 strikeouts, outdueling Reds ace Aaron Harang and keeping Ken Griffey Jr. at 597 career home runs in the San Francisco Giants' 3-1 victory Friday night.

Sanchez (2-1) retired 16 straight during one stretch and won his second straight start after going winless in his first three outings of 2008. That spoiled Baker's first game back since he was skipper of the Cubs two years ago.

"He was locating that fastball low and away then he was throwing in that T-zone up top where it really looked like a strike but wasn't a strike when you swung at it," Baker said. "Can't take anything away from him. He threw an outstanding game and so did Aaron."

It was the second 10-strikeout game for the left-hander, who also did so April 9 at San Diego. Sanchez gave up a pinch-hit home run in the ninth to Brandon Phillips and received a visit by pitching coach Dave Righetti before allowing a single to Ryan Freel. Cincinnati's fourth hit of the night chased Sanchez, and Brian Wilson finished for his eighth save in nine chances.

Sanchez is finally a full-time starter, and he is relishing the role. His two double-digit strikeout games are the most by a Giants' lefty in one season since Shawn Estes did it three times in 1998.

"I'm where I belong. I belong as a starter," Sanchez said. "I never change anything. I just go out there and compete. I feel relaxed."

Bengie Molina doubled in the Giants' go-ahead run in the fourth and added a sacrifice fly in the eighth, when San Francisco scored its first insurance run on an error. Molina began the day leading the majors in RBIs by a catcher and now has 16.

San Francisco won for the fifth time in seven games and third in a row. The Reds have not won the opening game of a series all season, going 0-9.

"They scored those two runs in the eighth and that hurt big time," Baker said. "We were trying to get Aaron the victory. He certainly deserved it. Too good a game to lose."

Both starters faced the minimum through three, each allowing one hit but also getting a double play on a cool, breezy night in the Giants' waterfront ballpark.

Sanchez gave up a leadoff single to Freel to start the game, struck out the side all swinging in the third and didn't allow another hit until Harang's two-out double in the sixth.

The Reds squandered a scoring opportunity with two outs in the seventh after Edwin Encarnacion walked, stole second and went to third on shortstop Brian Bocock's fielding error. But Sanchez got Adam Dunn to fly out to shallow center.

"The pitching we're going against -- (Greg) Maddux, Chris Young and Harang -- you need your starters to go out there and put up zeros," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They responded."

For the first time this year, Harang (1-3) went seven or more innings and lost. He struck out eight and walked one intentionally in 7 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and three runs -- two earned.

The Reds lost for the 11th time in 14 games and sit in last place in the NL Central.

"It's still painful," Harang said of losing while pitching well. "You do have to give the other guy credit. It was one of those definite pitcher's games where one mistake can cause everything to tumble out."

Baker, still sporting his signature toothpick, received a warm welcome in the city where he managed the team for 10 seasons from 1993 through San Francisco's World Series season in 2002 before taking over as manager of the Cubs.

"I don't care where you're from, home is home," Baker said before the game, with 9-year-old son Darren following his dad everywhere. He was expecting more than 30 family and friends for each game here.

This is Cincinnati's first road trip since Walt Jocketty took over as general manager Wednesday in place of the fired Wayne Krivsky. The Reds began their second 10-day, nine-game trek of the season that also takes them through St. Louis and Atlanta.

Griffey's milestone 600th homer might happen away from Great American Ball Park. The slugger hit his 200th, 300th, 400th and 500th homers came in road games. He went 0-for-4 Friday.

Giants rookie Emmanuel Burriss, called up last Sunday, leaned over the dugout rail and watched in awe as Griffey took his cuts in batting practice.

"The first thing when I got called up, I checked the schedule to see if we would be playing him," Burriss said with a grin.

Encarnacion, batting cleanup for the first time this season, had his career-best hitting streak snapped at 14. He stole his first base of the year.

Game notes
Baker gave the slumping Phillips most of the day off to gather his thoughts. Phillips was batting 6-for-38 (.158) over his previous 10 games before hitting the first pinch-hit homer of his career. ... Giants RF Randy Winn sat out his second straight game with stiffness in his neck. ... San Francisco has doubled in 22 straight games.