Bell timed Emmanuel Burriss' chopper perfectly, grabbing it with his right hand and firing it to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for the second out of the ninth inning. Bell struck out Rich Aurilia to finish the perfect inning, earning his 11th save in as many chances and helping the Padres to their fifth straight win.
"That was awesome," said third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who makes his share of barehanded plays. "Zero to 10, I'm going to rate that a 10. Fast runner, do-or-die play, he's either got to barehand it and try to get him out, or if he gloves it, I think he's safe. Great play."
Said manager Bud Black: "I'm a tough judge of defense. I give that a 9.75. Let me say that was a hell of a play."
Bell has thrown 17 scoreless innings to start the season, making him one of two qualifying relievers posting a 0.00 ERA. Texas' Frank Francisco is the other.
San Diego won with just four hits, the biggest Kouzmanoff's homer.
With so little offense, Bell's play stood out even more in a matchup between the two lowest-scoring teams in the NL.
"I thought to myself, 'I'm going to have to barehand this and I can't even wind up. I have to pick it and throw it,'" Bell said. "I was like, 'Here we go,' hoping that as soon as I caught it, it didn't bounce out of my hand or I throw it down the line, so I just caught it and flinged it over there and threw a strike to Adrian.
"Eckstein told me he like jumped 20 feet in the air," Bell said, referring to second baseman David Eckstein. "So I'm waiting to see that on TV. I'm not going to watch my play, I'm just going to watch behind me. I want to see Eck jump."
San Francisco lost for the sixth time in seven games to drop one game under .500. The Padres also beat the Giants 2-1 on Tuesday night, spoiling Barry Zito's complete game.
"I don't have much to say," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who was ejected in the bottom of the eighth after arguing a call at first base. "Same game, very similar to last night. We're just not getting that hit. We're just real cold right now with the bats."
Bochy moved Aaron Rowand into the leadoff spot in an attempt to shake up the slumping Giants. Rowand had three of San Francisco's six hits but was stranded each time. He is the fifth player the Giants have tried in the leadoff spot.
"You get your leadoff hitting swinging like that and get one run, it's tough," Bochy said. "We found out one run is not going to work."
Right-hander Chad Gaudin (1-3) won for the first time in five starts for San Diego. He was signed to a minor league contract on April 12 after being released by the Chicago Cubs. After two starts for Triple-A Portland, he had a no-decision in his Padres debut, then lost three straight starts.
Gaudin allowed one run and five hits in six innings, walked four and struck out three.
Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez (1-4) took the loss despite allowing two runs and two hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked three.
This was the first time in 16 games the Giants lost after scoring the first run.
San Francisco gave Sanchez a 1-0 lead when Burriss singled in Randy Winn with two outs in the second. Winn had two hits to improve to 17 for 40 (.425) in his last 10 games, with 11 runs and eight RBIs.
Kouzmanoff homered into the seats in left on the first pitch of the fourth, his third.
Padres ace Jake Peavy will start Friday night against the Cubs on his normal four days' rest. He had been given the option of getting an additional day of rest and starting Saturday night. Josh Geer will start Saturday. ... Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who lives in Del Mar during the offseason, was at the game with some friends and got to hang out in the Giants' dugout during batting practice. The Chico native said he pitched his senior year of high school before playing football at Cal.