With one out and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig standing on third base following a triple, the Giants brought their infield in hoping to prevent Puig from scoring on a ground ball – in the first inning. It didn’t work, as Adrian Gonzalez lined a 2-2 pitch from Tim Lincecum into right field for an RBI single, but it did indicate the Giants felt it prudent to keep things close against Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke.
Greinke delivered on what looked like a potential pitchers’ duel, hurling seven scoreless innings while striking out 10. But Lincecum and the Giants did not, surrendering 15 hits, including six for extra bases, and losing 8-1 in the opener of a highly anticipated series at AT&T Park between the National League West’s top two teams.
Reportedly with an eye on this series, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly set up his rotation out of the All-Star break so his top three starters – Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu – would face the Giants this weekend. Bruce Bochy opted not to follow suit, but Friday still pitted Greinke against the Giants’ hottest pitcher in Lincecum, who had won four of his last five starts and hadn’t allowed a run at home in 27 innings.
That streak ended three batters in on Gonzalez’s single to score Puig. Lincecum matched zeroes with Greinke after that until the fifth inning, when he allowed five consecutive hits and was taken out with the Dodgers leading 4-0. Juan Gutierrez came on and surrendered a two-out, two-run triple to Matt Kemp, closing the book on Lincecum at nine hits (tying his season high) and six runs – two more than he’d allowed in his previous five starts.
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“I kind of went away from my pitch plan a little bit,” Lincecum said of the fifth inning. “Started trying to overpower guys with fastballs and left some up in the zone.”
By that point, Lincecum was also working with a different catcher than he started with. Hector Sanchez left the game after taking a foul tip off the mask in the third inning, and Bochy said afterward that Sanchez suffered a “mild concussion.”
“He’s going to miss some time … How long I can’t say,” said Bochy, who added he was going to meet with general manager Brian Sabean about a potential roster move.
Lincecum’s main tormentor was Puig, who also doubled in the third inning and laced an RBI triple into the right-center field gap in the fifth. Puig then tripled to nearly the same spot in the sixth off Gutierrez, becoming the first player since Denard Span in 2010 to hit three triples in a game and helping the Dodgers tie their franchise record with five in the game – a feat they last achieved in 1921.
Greinke, meanwhile, allowed four singles over seven innings while beating the Giants for the third time this season. He reached double-digit strikeouts for the fourth time with four of them coming in the third inning, when Hunter Pence swung at strike three in the dirt and reached as the ball got past catcher A.J. Ellis.
The biggest, though, may have come an inning later. After Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse hit back-to-back one-out singles, Greinke struck Brandon Crawford out looking before inducing an inning-ending fielder’s choice from Dan Uggla. The Giants did not put multiple runners on again until the ninth, when Tyler Colvin’s two-out RBI single spared them from being shut out.
It was a meek showing by the most recent iteration of the Giants’ lineup, which featured Uggla making his debut at second base. Uggla, who signed a minor-league deal earlier this week, was called up Friday with infielder Tony Abreu as the Giants put both Marco Scutaro and Ehire Adrianza on the 15-day disabled list.
Uggla went hitless in two at-bats against Greinke before Abreu replaced him on a double-switch in the fifth. Before the game, Bochy said Uggla will be the team’s everyday second baseman for now.
The Giants had intended to give Uggla more at-bats in the minors before calling him up, but Adrianza reaggravated a hamstring strain Thursday and it has become increasingly clear that Scutaro’s back isn’t allowing him to play regularly. “We like taking a look at players that have a track record, and he has an outstanding track record,” Bochy said.
Uggla hit 31 or more homers with at least 82 RBIs every season from 2007-11, but batted .179 in 136 games in 2013 and was hitting .162 this year for the Braves before they released him this month. To clear spots on the 40-man roster for Uggla and Abreu, the Giants designated infielder Nick Noonan and pitcher Jose De Paula for assignment.