The Giants ignored these factors to record their fifth victory in six games. They limited Los Angeles to five hits, received 3 1/3 perfect innings from the bullpen and benefited from Pedro Feliz's tiebreaking, two-run single in the sixth inning, which gave him 17 RBIs in his last 18 games. The combination was enough to beat Dodgers starter Brad Penny, who entered the game with a formidable 13-1 record, and buoy the Giants' belief that they can escape last place in the National League West.
"Our purpose is to win games," said Noah Lowry (12-7), who became the NL's second left-hander to win 12 games. "You never know what can happen. You can't ever give up hope, right? You have to battle until the very end, until somebody tells us you're mathematically out of it."
The Giants also still felt stung by the three-game sweep the Dodgers dealt them at AT&T Park immediately after the All-Star break.
"A lot of people in this room didn't like [that]," pinch-hitting specialist Mark Sweeney said. "That's part of taking some pride in your job."
Lowry focused on his job despite the departure of Morris, the rotation's senior member in terms of age and experience.
"It's almost like a death," Lowry said. Nevertheless, he added, "That's the nature of the business. ... Once you finally hit the mound, it's more of a comfort zone."
Lowry rarely looked comfortable. He left the bases loaded in the first inning by coaxing James Loney's popup. He stranded two more in the fifth when Luis Gonzalez flied out to deep right-center field. In between, the Dodgers scored in the second inning on Ramon Martinez's single, Penny's sacrifice bunt and Rafael Furcal's RBI single.
But the Giants pulled even in the third as Dave Roberts walked, Randy Winn doubled for his first of four hits and Ray Durham hit a sacrifice fly.
San Francisco forged ahead in the sixth as Penny, who walked five, began the inning by issuing free passes to Bonds and Ryan Klesko. Bengie Molina's single loaded the bases before Feliz singled up the middle to deliver Bonds and Klesko.
"I can't say enough about the job he's done," manager Bruce Bochy said of Feliz, who's batting .333 (22-for-66) in his last 18 games. "He's so consistent."
But Lowry needed help protecting the lead in the Dodgers' half of the inning, bequeathing a two-on, two-out jam to Kevin Correia. Throwing nothing but sliders to Olmedo Saenz, the right-hander worked the count full before slipping a fastball past the pinch-hitter for a called third strike. Correia proceeded to strike out Furcal and Juan Pierre, the first two Dodgers he faced in the seventh.
"Kevin really stepped up," Bochy said. "The game's on the line with a great pinch-hitter and he made some great pitches there."
So did Steve Kline, who sailed through the eighth, and Brad Hennessey, who worked the ninth for his ninth save.
"In my opinion, they were the difference in the game," Lowry said of San Francisco's relievers.
As a result, the Giants still believe that they can make a difference in the division, particularly if they thrive against their opponents on this journey.
"We've got L.A.; we've got San Diego," Lowry said. "You can never roll over and quit. I thought we did a good job of that today. We showed a lot of heart. It was a good start to the road trip."