About the only good news for the San Francisco Giants on Friday night came well after the Texas Rangers had celebrated at AT&T Park for the first time.
Yes, Pablo Sandoval is coming back to supply some much-needed reinforcement.
Not a moment too soon, either.
Matt Harrison pitched his third career shutout and the Rangers beat short-handed San Francisco 5-0 on Friday night in a rematch of the 2010 World Series that the Giants won in five games. The Giants will option Brett Pill to Triple-A Fresno before Saturday's game to make room on the roster for Sandoval's return.
"We're a little short-handed and we could use another bat in the lineup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "So we think he's ready and that's why we're making the move."
Among other reasons.
Craig Gentry had a career-high five hits — matching the Giants' entire output against Harrison — and Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler homered as Texas earned its first victory in San Francisco's waterfront ballpark after an 0-11 start, including two during the memorable Fall Classic.
Harrison struck out four and walked none to outlast Barry Zito (5-3) in a matchup of left-handers. Harrison (8-3) tied Tampa Bay's David Price for the most wins in the American League.
"I would have to say of all his starts, that's the best, because he completed the game," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "And he completed it the same way he started it."
The Giants, playing without Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey, were shut out for the first time since a 3-0 home loss to the Dodgers on Sept. 10.
Zito gave up four runs, nine hits and two walk in six innings. He also overran second base in the third inning — one of the few times the Giants threatened.
Zito, who was left off the postseason roster two years ago, was touched for two home runs for only the second time this season.
The one bright spot for San Francisco is that Sandoval, rehabbing from surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his left hand, is set to return. The switch-hitting third baseman hasn't played in the majors since May 2 at Miami, but had two home runs in Fresno's 5-4 win over Las Vegas on Friday.
"To have Pablo back in the lineup is going to be a boost to us both on the field and off," Zito said. "Pablo is a sparkplug for us in the clubhouse, too, so that's big."
The Giants beat the Rangers in five games — including the finale in Texas — in 2010 to capture the franchise's first World Series since moving from New York in 1958.
So much has changed in San Francisco since.
The only player in the Giants' starting lineup Friday night who was on that World Series roster was Nate Schierholtz, and he was filling in while Cabrera rested his strained right hamstring. Posey also had the day off to rest, and so many of those other postseason stars — not counting the core pitching trio of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner — are gone or injured.
Texas is the two-time defending AL champion and boasts one of baseball's best lineups.
While ace C.J. Wilson is gone, the hitting had never slowed until lately. The Rangers had lost seven of the last nine games, including three of four this week across the bay to the Oakland Athletics, and scored a total of four runs in those losses at the Coliseum.
The short trip over the Bay Bridge made all the difference.
Kinsler pulled the second pitch of the game over the wall in left for the first of 14 hits by Texas. It was his second leadoff home run this season and No. 22 for his career, a franchise record.
Hamilton hammered a hanging curveball from Zito in the fifth inning into the fifth row in center for his 22nd homer. The 2010 AL MVP hadn't gone deep since May 29 against Seattle.
Gentry doubled home a run in the fourth and had an RBI single in the ninth to push the Rangers ahead 5-0. He had never had more than three hits in a game.
The Rangers had dropped seven straight in the regular season to San Francisco since a 2-0 home win on July, 16, 2001. It was the franchise's longest active losing streak to one opponent.
"All night it felt like we were in the dugout the whole time," Gentry said. "Harry just set the tone for the whole game and pitched great."
NOTES: Further tests on Rangers LHP Derek Holland, placed on the 15-day DL Thursday with a fatigued left shoulder, showed no structural damage. Holland will not throw for at least a week and his focus will be on strength training after a stomach virus caused him to lose 10-15 pounds. ... Combined with Monday's day off, the Rangers will give RHP Yu Darvish an extra two days off before making his next start Friday at home against Houston.
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