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Josh Johnson encouraged by first start back from DL, though Blue Jays lose 2-1 to Giants

Josh Johnson came off the disabled list and hung tough in a duel with Tim Lincecum, showing little rust after being sidelined for six weeks with triceps inflammation in his pitching arm.

Johnson didn't get much help from the hitters aside from Edwin Encarnacion's first-inning home run in a 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, even on a night when Melky Cabrera had a pair of singles while being booed at every opportunity by his former fans.

When manager John Gibbons checked on Johnson at one point, he told Gibbons he was still feeling strong.

"It felt good to be out there and go to battle with these guys. Unfortunately I made a couple of mistakes I can't take back," Johnson said. "I felt great. I finally found a rhythm. That was huge."

The Blue Jays snapped a three-game losing streak with Sunday's win at San Diego, but dropped their seventh in 11 overall Tuesday and ninth of 13 on the road.

Johnson (0-2) was impressive in his fifth start of the year and first since being sidelined April 22 with right triceps inflammation. He struck out six in seven innings and didn't walk a batter, but dropped to 0-4 in eight career starts against the Giants in his seventh straight road defeat and fifth consecutive loss overall.

"We missed him," Gibbons said of Johnson. "You watch a performance like that, that's what Josh Johnson is. And then Lincecum, we got on the board in the first and he did a heck of a job of shutting us down."

Lincecum ended a three-start losing streak and Andres Torres hit a two-run homer in the second that held up. Lincecum (4-5) allowed Encarnacion's 17th homer, then retired the next 14 Blue Jays in order.

Cabrera had two hits in his return to AT&T Park with Toronto for the first time since his 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test last Aug. 15.

Cabrera apologized to the Giants and their fans during a dugout news conference before the game. He was eligible to return for the NL championship series, but the Giants decided in late September to keep him off the postseason roster the entire way.

Cabrera, the 2012 All-Star game MVP who produced a 51-hit May last year, received his World Series ring when the Giants visited Toronto last month.

He was booed — with no sign of the "Melk Men" who used to cheer him — by the sellout crowd of 41,981 each time he stepped into the batter's box.

"They have their reasons to do what they did. I just play my game," Cabrera said.

Cabrera went 2 for 4 with a leadoff single in the first and another base hit in the sixth but flied out with the tying run at first for the first out in the ninth.

"A guy like that, when you're getting boos, you know it's for a reason," Lincecum said. "He was a good player for us, and now he's not, so you're going to hear that here."

The Blue Jays missed a chance in the sixth. With Johnson aboard on a walk and at second following Cabrera's single, Jose Bautista hit into his second double play of the game with a liner to Pablo Sandoval at third base. Sandoval fired to second and Marco Scutaro made the play but dropped the ball as he tumbled forward, bringing Gibbons out to argue.

"He thought he was on the bag and he had it," Gibbons said. "I just didn't think he ever had possession of it. It happened so fast and everything was kind of out of control. The third out, they're not going to get together and check that. That's the way it goes."

Lincecum, knocked out of his only other start against the Blue Jays after 3 2-3 innings in 2007, pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Jeremy Affeldt pitched the eighth and Sergio Romo finished for his 16th save in 18 chances to end the 2-hour, 16-minute game. It was the Giants' fastest game of the year.

The Blue Jays hope Johnson's first start back will be something for the pitcher to build on — and he was clearly encouraged.

"Whenever you find your rhythm, everything just kind of happens," Johnson said. "It's been a while since I found that and felt that way. I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. It was nice."

NOTES: Toronto also activated OF Rajai Davis from the DL and he grounded into an inning-ending double play as a pinch-hitter in the eighth against his former team. Fellow ex-Giant Mark DeRosa had a pinch-hit single. ... The Blue Jays are 5-5 vs. the NL West and fell to 1-6 all-time at AT&T Park. ... An MRI on injured Toronto pitcher Ramon Ortiz's right elbow showed no significant damage after the 40-year-old righty was hurt Sunday at San Diego. ... The Giants beat the Blue Jays for just the second time in the last seven meetings after struggling with the bouncy turf in Toronto in ugly 10-6 and 11-3 losses May 14-15.