SAN FRANCISCO -- The gulf separating this season's Giants from their archrivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, never seemed greater than it did Friday night. The site was AT&T Park, where San Francisco typically thrives. The scene looked promising for the Giants, who sent 13-game winner Matt Cain to the mound. The club's promotional minds tried to unearth some happy mojo by honoring Brian Johnson, whose 12th-inning homer defeated the Dodgers in a classic September 1997 game. None of this mattered. Los Angeles simply overmatched and overwhelmed the Giants with a 10-3 victory that made a mockery of their postseason bid. San Francisco's deficit in the National League West grew to 7 1/2 games behind first-place Los Angeles. The Giants also fell 5 1/2 games behind the Wild Card-leading Colorado Rockies, whose ninth-inning rally at San Diego fueled their 10th victory in 11 games since they were last tied with San Francisco.
This wasn't supposed to happen to the Giants, who figured to keep reaping the benefits of playing at home. But they've lost four of their last five games, including three of four on this homestand. Cain (13-5), who allowed four runs in six innings, admitted that "it's hard to say there's probably not" some genuine disappointment permeating the Giants' clubhouse. "I know I'm hugely disappointed with today," said Cain, who remained winless (0-7) in 13 career starts against the Dodgers. "I feel like I let my guys down, knowing that this was a big opener for us tonight and a big weekend." The schedule allows the Giants to cling to hope, since they play their next eight games against Los Angeles and Colorado. As Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of the Giants before the game, "Where they are, that's where you want to be right now. I'm not saying they wouldn't rather be closer. If you win games, you deserve it. If you don't win games, you don't deserve to be there." Said Cain, "I think if we start thinking about what we did the past couple of days or tonight, that's going to carry over through the weekend and next week. We can't do that." From the Giants' perspective, the evening was momentous in one respect: Manager Bruce Bochy made a seven-player substitution in the eighth inning that installed Buster Posey, the organization's brightest position-player prospect, behind the plate for his Major League debut. Posey, San Francisco's No. 1 selection in last year's First-Year Player Draft, caught two innings without incident and struck out in his only at-bat -- though he worked the count against Hiroki Kuroda to 2-2, displaying patience many Giants lack. "It's probably a feeling I know I'll never have again," Posey said of his debut. Asked how he felt when Bochy called on him, Posey said, "My heart started beating a little bit. I tried to get loose and just enjoy it." Despite taking a tentative swing at a Kuroda fastball for strike three, Posey also relished his initial plate appearance. "I don't know if you can dream up a first at-bat much better than that, other than getting a knock," he said. That's partly because the remnants of the paid crowd of 39,212, displaying admirable attentiveness, showered Posey with a standing ovation as he entered the right-handed batter's box. "The crowd was great," the 22-year-old Posey said. "They made it fun for me. I'll cherish that for sure." Otherwise, the game was so noncompetitive that Giants partisans never had the chance to muster a decent "Beat L.A." chant. James Loney delivered a two-out, two-run, first-inning double for the Dodgers, who outhit the Giants 13-2 before the bottom of the eighth inning. Those two hits came in the second inning, when Bengie Molina singled and Juan Uribe doubled him to third. But San Francisco squeezed only one run from that threat. "You'd like to think you're going to find a way to get another run there," Bochy said. "That changes the game a little bit." The Dodgers settled matters with a five-run seventh against relievers Merkin Valdez and Bob Howry that included an RBI single by Casey Blake, who belted a two-run homer one inning earlier, and a two-run double from Russell Martin. That forced the Giants to begin focusing on Saturday. "We've fallen back here. We know it," Bochy said. "It's up to us to be resilient, be tough about this and bounce back."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.