(Reuters) - Veteran starter Jake Peavy shut down the dangerous Washington line-up and the San Francisco Giants won a National League-record ninth consecutive postseason game with a 3-2 road victory in Game One of their best-of-five Divisional Series on Friday.
Peavy, acquired from Boston in July, continued his recent sizzling form to pick up his first career postseason victory in six playoff starts.
He had a no-hitter going through four innings, gave up only two hits and no runs in five and two-thirds innings, and did not allow a Washington batter to second base until the sixth inning.
The Giants held on despite giving up two solo home runs in the seventh inning, including a massive blast by Bryce Harper off reliever Hunter Strickland that landed in the right field upper deck and briefly woke up the subdued home crowd.
Washington starter Stephen Strasburg yielded eight hits, all singles, and two runs in five solid innings but took the loss.
The Nationals had the best regular season record in the National League while the Giants had to win a wildcard game at Pittsburgh to keep their playoff hopes alive.
But the Giants, the 2010 and 2012 World Series champions, do not mind traveling.
“These guys, they have a calmness about them,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy told reporters.
“When you have your backs to the wall as many times as we’ve had in the postseason, that experience is invaluable.
“Our defense helped win that game. Little things add up in a tight ballgame.”
Peavy’s first postseason victory came after a stellar second half of the season.
He endured a poor start in Boston, but found his form after moving to the Giants and had the lowest ERA in the majors from Aug. 13 until the end of the regular season.
“To get this opener, this is big for us,” he said. “Their line-up is really deep. We had to throw the ball just on the plate or just off it for the most part and walk some guys.
“They had some great at-bats which got my pitch count up. I hate I couldn’t finish that (sixth) inning.”
Manager Bochy described Peavy’s performance as a “perfect job”.
”He gave us what we needed, really made pitches when he had to,“ Bochy said. ”He’s really saved us since he came over (from Boston).”
Strasburg, who had a league-leading 242 strikeouts in the regular season, only struck out two, but nor was he taken to the woodshed, giving up mostly grounders that found the holes.
“Stras pitched fine. He gave us a chance (but) Jake was a little bit better,” said Nats manager Matt Williams.
Rookie Joe Panik and first baseman Brandon Belt each had two hits and an RBI for the Giants, while shortstop Brandon Crawford was 3-for-4.
Harper was 2-for-4 for the Nats, while Asdrubal Cabrera also hit a solo homer in the seventh.
Game Two will be in Washington on Saturday.
Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry / Ian Ransom