"Definitely one of those nights," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "We haven't had one of these in quite a while this year. Felipe's stuff was as good as it was the last time, but he didn't have good location. The breaking ball wasn't as good as it was before. Probably got too many pitches in the zone and didn't hit his spots very well. Seems like they knew what was coming."
With the loss, the Astros (38-40) squandered a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time since April 7 and saw their six-game winning streak against the Giants snapped.
Houston managed only four singles and didn't have a runner reach third base. Ryan Sadowski (2-0), making his second career start for the Giants, pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed three hits and struck out four.
The most runs the Astros had allowed in a single game prior to Friday was 12, a mark the Giants had surpassed by the third inning.
"It's tough when you haven't faced a guy before, but you can't use that as an excuse," Astros third baseman Geoff Blum said. "We're professionals, we have plenty of videotape and scouting reports and things like that, and obviously in the game you can make adjustments. He obviously made adjustments quicker than we did and did a good job keeping us off the board and got plenty of run support."
The Giants pounced on Paulino for three runs (two earned) in the first inning, including a two-run homer by third baseman Pablo Sandoval. San Francisco added six more in the second to take a 9-0 lead, highlighted by a three-run homer by Travis Ishikawa that was initially ruled a double before the umpires corrected the call after using video replay.
The Giants bashed out 15 hits, including seven for extra bases.
"We know that we're down by nine, but we still have to keep the same approach we've had during the game," Blum said. "We had scored a lot of runs the last couple of games, so I don't think that any of us really wanted to push any harder than we needed to or panic too much. I still think we wanted to have some good [at-bats] and do the best we could when we got a pitch to hit."
Paulino remains an enigma, having been unable to put together consecutive strong starts. He held Detroit to three hits and one run and struck out nine batters in his previous start June 27 in Houston.
"I think it was a bad night for me," Paulino said. "I would make a good pitch and they hit it well, and they hit everything I threw today. I don't want to think about it. I went to look at video; I see I would make a good pitch and they hit it. I don't know what I'm going to do."
Cooper summoned reliever Jeff Fulchino in the third inning and he promptly gave up four more runs to give San Francisco a 13-0 lead, but the manager credited Fulchino for saving his bullpen. The right-hander threw a career-high five innings in relief and didn't allow a run after the third.
"He's done a lot of that this year," Cooper said. "Not just in this ballgame, but even in the games when it meant a whole lot and games were close, he still saved our staff because he pitched well for us. Even in that last inning when he went out, he said, 'Don't worry, I'm OK.' That showed me a lot right there."
The Astros didn't get a hit against Sadowski until a one-out single by Lance Berkman in the fourth. In the seventh inning, Cooper sent pinch-hitters to the plate for leading RBI men Berkman and Carlos Lee, throwing in the towel to Sadowski and the Giants.
"He knows how to pitch," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He works on both sides of the plate, he can sink it, he has great poise. He knows what he is doing, and he is taking advantage of this opportunity."