SAN FRANCISCO — Chad Gaudin might just be pitching himself right into a permanent spot in the San Francisco starting rotation.
He certainly pitched the defending World Series champion Giants to an important victory to begin the season's second half against the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, striking out eight in seven scoreless innings to build on his impressive month-long stretch in a 2-0 win Friday night.
"It's huge," Gaudin said. "Any win in our division is huge."
All-Star Buster Posey hit an RBI double, Hunter Pence added a run-scoring single as San Francisco started a key series to open the second half by pulling within 5 1/2 games of the D-backs in the NL West race.
Arizona starter Ian Kennedy (3-7) was denied career win No. 50 yet again in his eighth try.
In his past four starts, Gaudin (4-1) has a 0.77 ERA and allowed only two earned runs in 23 1-3 innings. He has an 11-inning scoreless streak.
"What a great job he did tonight, which we needed," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Gaudin is unbeaten in seven starts since joining the rotation in early June to replace the injured Ryan Vogelsong — and he is making for a tough decision by the Giants' brass when Vogelsong is ready to return next month.
"Obviously I'd like to start and enjoy starting," said Gaudin, so valuable for his versatility.
Not bad for a guy who signed a minor league deal with the Giants and had no guarantee of making the team out of spring training.
"I signed over here to do what I'm doing now," Gaudin said. "It's great. I've put a lot of time and effort and work into having a good craft and pretty much dedicated myself to getting better and staying consistent. It's kind of surprising, but at the same time I kind of expect it out of myself."
Gaudin's only loss came in relief during an extra-inning loss April 24 against Arizona at home.
Gaudin also got a defensive gem from Giants rookie Kensuke Tanaka. The converted infielder made a sliding catch near the foul line in left field, reaching back over his head after overrunning the play to rob Paul Goldschmidt leading off the fourth.
Gaudin tipped his cap to the outfielder.
The Giants are determined to put some steady play together — and Gaudin's stellar outing was a start. The club began a key stretch with 10 games at home in AT&T Park, including Tuesday's doubleheader with the Reds in which Cincinnati is the home team
in the opener to make up a July 4 rainout in Ohio.
Gaudin allowed three hits and didn't walk a batter for the second time in his seven starts.
"Everything he does for us, it's a big lift," closer Sergio Romo said.
Romo, the Giants' fifth reliever, finished the five-hitter for his 22nd save and San Francisco's 10th shutout. Arizona was blanked for just the second time after losing 3-0 to Atlanta on June 28.
"We had no offense going on at all tonight. They just shut us down," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
Santiago Casilla escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. Romo has a 29-game scoreless streak against the D-backs spanning 21 2-3 innings and dating to Sept. 6, 2010.