Giants edged in first meeting with LA

Giants edged in first meeting with LA

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants could rationalize away Friday night's 2-1 setback to the Los Angeles Dodgers by telling themselves that they'll win many more games than they'll lose with this kind of effort.

That didn't necessarily make this defeat any easier to absorb.

"That was a game we probably did let get away," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "But we have to put it behind us."

San Francisco juxtaposed skills with flaws in a frustrating mix. The Giants turned three double plays, yet poor defense gave Los Angeles the game's first run. The Giants outhit Los Angeles, 12-8, but had three runners thrown out on the bases.

The Giants set the evening's pattern quickly. Omar Vizquel singled with one out in the first inning, but was caught trying to steal second base with Barry Bonds at bat. One inning later, Ray Durham singled leading off and also came up short on a steal attempt as Ryan Klesko struck out. The next batter, Bengie Molina, doubled.

In the fifth inning, Pedro Feliz was thrown out at home with nobody out. But Vizquel insisted that the Giants must maintain this aggressive approach.

"You can't sit back and wait for things to happen," he said. "You have to push the envelope and try to make something happen. That's one of the reasons I sometimes question myself for going to second when Barry Bonds is hitting. If I get thrown out, it looks bad. But I can't stop and wait for him to hit a home run. If I think that I get a good jump and I can go, I'm gonna go.

"There's going to be situations where you have to shut down the game and let Barry hit. But early in the game, I don't see any reason why we have to wait for something."

An AT&T Park regular-season record crowd of 43,146 gathered to watch the renewal of this storied rivalry. They were treated to a taut affair that began to unravel in the fifth inning, when the Dodgers dissolved a scoreless tie with an unearned run.

Noah Lowry, who worked seven effective innings, left the mound to field Matt Kemp's leadoff comebacker. Lowry fired a low, wide throw past first base, sending Kemp to second.

"He was moving down the line a lot quicker than I thought and I rushed my throw," Lowry said. "I probably should have held onto it."

Kemp moved to third when Lowry fired a wild pitch with his next delivery. But Kemp was trapped down the third-base line when Wilson Betemit, the next hitter, grounded to third baseman Feliz. Yet the Giants couldn't capitalize on the break. Feliz pump-faked once, then, as Kemp ran home, made a hasty one-hop throw that catcher Molina struggled to handle. Kemp skirted Molina to touch the plate.

"I stopped to throw because I saw him trying to go back to third," Feliz said, explaining why he didn't throw to Molina immediately.

Feliz was involved in another play at the plate in the bottom of the inning. He drilled a leadoff single and headed home on Randy Winn's double into the left-field corner. Aware that left fielder Luis Gonzalez no longer has a powerful arm -- Durham beat his throw for a double in the fourth inning -- Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery sent Feliz home. The throws from Gonzalez and shortstop Ramon Martinez caught up with Feliz.

"It was close," Feliz said. "They made a couple of good relays."

"It's always a tough call down in the corner and [the Dodgers] executed it perfectly," Bochy said, defending Flannery. "That's just one part of the game. We can look at a lot of things."

After Los Angeles added a run in the sixth on Nomar Garciaparra's one-out double and Jeff Kent's single, the Giants didn't threaten until the eighth, when pinch-hitter Rich Aurilia doubled to left-center field leading off. After Joe Beimel relieved starter Brad Penny, Aurilia moved to third on Dave Roberts' sacrifice bunt and scored on Vizquel's groundout. Gonzalez's two-base error on Bonds' fly ball and an intentional walk to Durham prolonged the inning until Klesko struck out on three pitches.

Pinch-hitting for Klesko, a left-handed batter, against the left-handed Beimel might have been an alternative. Bochy didn't address this or any other specific instance, but he indicated that he second-guessed himself on more than one occasion -- reflecting the game's excruciating nature for the Giants.

"I look at myself in this game, too, believe me," Bochy said. "It's such a fine line there. I could have done something different, too."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.