SAN FRANCISCO — All-Star second baseman Freddy Sanchez waited four days to make his San Francisco Giants debut so his sore left knee could get some extra rest.
It was well worth it.
Sanchez had two hits and two RBIs in his first game in a Giants uniform, Barry Zito made his third straight strong start and San Francisco beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 on Sunday.
“Obviously it’s a different type of feeling any time you get traded and are playing in your first game,” said Sanchez, who was acquired from Pittsburgh two days before the trade deadline last week. “It felt like it’s been forever since I had an at-bat so it felt a little different up there. But everyone’s made me feel at home and that feels good.”
Batting in the No. 2 spot, Sanchez singled in his first at-bat then added a two-run double in the sixth when San Francisco scored three times off Phillies’ starter Cole Hamels to break the game open.
Aaron Rowand and Eugenio Velez had two hits apiece for the Giants, who won three of four against the defending World Series champs. San Francisco’s lone loss in the series was on Friday when reigning AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, picked up in a late trade from Cleveland last week, pitched a four-hitter in a 5-1 Philadelphia win.
“Other than that, it was great to show this team and show the league that we’re a threat to be taken seriously,” said Zito, whose team remained tied with Colorado for the NL wild card lead.
Jimmy Rollins homered and had two hits for the Phillies, who still own the second-best record in the National League despite going 6-5 over their last 11 games.
Philadelphia stranded only four baserunners but two of them were in scoring position, which has been a trouble spot for the Phillies as of late.
“Hitting with runners in scoring position is something (where) you’ve got to bear down and know what you can do and how to do it,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “With a man on third base … you’ve got to get that one guy in first and think about moving the runners up and playing the game the right way. If you don’t do that, then it’s hard to do.”
The Giants traded one of their best pitching prospects in the minors to get Sanchez from the Pirates, San Francisco’s second big trade in a three-day span. The team also traded for first baseman Ryan Garko last Monday.
Garko had a day off Saturday but has played in every game since the trade. He had a single and scored in four at-bats in the finale with Philadelphia.
Sanchez, though, did not play for his new team until Sunday.
He made an error while trying to field a ball barehanded, which allowed Philadelphia to score an unearned run off Zito in the fourth. But Sanchez, who won the 2006 NL batting title, made up for it with his double to right-center that scored Zito and Velez. Sanchez then scored when Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard fielded Pablo Sandoval’s infield single and flipped it over the head of pitcher Cole Hamels, who was covering first.
“Those are the situations you want to be in, game on the line, guys on base, two outs,” Sanchez said. “You’re not going to get the job done every time but when you do it feels good, especially after making an error.”
Hamels (7-6) gave up all seven runs and lost for the first time since July 1. It was his first loss in five career starts against San Francisco.
Zito (7-10) went six innings, giving up three runs with five strikeouts. He didn’t walk a batter for the fifth time this season.
“Early in the season he had trouble getting the ball where he wanted, but he settled down and pitched some really nice games,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We just had some trouble getting run support for him. He is a different pitcher now and his stuff has definitely picked up.”
Four San Francisco relievers combined to finish the game, with Bob Howry working a perfect ninth.
Rollins hit his 11th homer of the season in the fourth but Philadelphia’s offense continued to come up short. The Phillies led 3-1 when Carlos Ruiz singled in Eric Bruntlett in the fifth but the Giants took control with three runs in the bottom of the fifth and three more in the sixth.
Notes: The Giants went 6-1 on the homestand. … Garko hit in the cleanup spot for San Francisco while normal No. 4 hitter Bengie Molina rested. … The game was sold out for the second straight day and the 11th time this season at AT&T Park.