Giants' bullpen holds on in 5-4 win over Dodgers
SAN FRANCISCO – Bearded closer Brian Wilson jogged to the mound as the sellout crowd roared. He then struck out the side for his first save, and just like that things seemed back to normal for the San Francisco Giants.
At least for a night anyway. The reigning World Series champions won by a single run, a familiar practice for this bunch, and Wilson was his reliable old self.
Aaron Rowand tripled leading off the seventh and scored the go-ahead run moments later on a wild pitch, and the Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 on Tuesday night when Wilson sealed the deal without any extra drama.
"That's the Wilson everybody wants to see," ace Tim Lincecum said.
"We've got Wilson back," Pablo Sandoval said. "That was the Wilson we know."
Last year's majors saves leader with 48, Wilson started the season on the disabled list and had allowed five total runs in his first two appearances since being activated — giving him a 33.75 ERA entering his outing Tuesday. He lowered that number to 19.29 with the 1-2-3, 14-pitch ninth.
"I pitched three outs today, didn't get in trouble, which is good," Wilson said. "I was staying ahead in the count for the most part, trying to pump the strike zone and trying not to beat myself, get behind in the count, walk guys. I'm going to get beat. They're going to have to beat me."
Rowand, filling in for injured center fielder Andres Torres, added an RBI single in the fifth. The triple was his fifth in the regular season in five years.
Jeremy Affeldt (1-0) earned the win despite allowing pinch-hitter Marcus Thames' tying homer to start the top of the seventh.
Blake Hawksworth (1-1) took the loss.
On a raw, windy night that began with strong early showings by Lincecum and Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley, San Francisco generated just enough offense against Los Angeles' bullpen. The Giants beat the Dodgers for the second time in five tries so far this year.
The highlight for the hard-throwing Lincecum in his home debut came on defense. He stopped Andre Ethier's hard grounder to start the sixth with a fancy play. The ball came off his glove and landed between the mound and second base. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner chased it down with a nifty sliding, spinning move and fired to first while on both knees.
He then allowed back-to-back singles to Matt Kemp and James Loney before plunking 2010 teammate Juan Uribe for the second time this year to load the bases. Lincecum's night was done after he hit Uribe. Uribe pointed at his left shoulder area and signaled with two fingers to plate umpire Sam Holbrook that it was the second time Lincecum hit him this year.
The ball carried on a crisp night in which the Dodgers wore hooded sweat shirts during batting practice, with the wind whipping to right-center at 21 to 27 mph. First-pitch temperature was 55 degrees.
In the seventh, Thames hit an off-speed pitch from Affeldt and sent it about halfway up the left-field bleachers for his sixth career pinch-hit homer. It was his first since June 8, 2009, against the White Sox in Chicago while with the Tigers.
But the Giants got it right back in the bottom half when Rowand started a rally with his triple.
San Francisco (5-6) bounced back after falling 6-1 to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in Monday's series opener.
Sandoval doubled in the fourth to pull the Giants to 3-2, driving a low pitch down the first-base line. First baseman Loney had moved back about 10 feet on the 3-2 pitch to guard against the ball down the line, but lunged toward second and couldn't recover.
"My thinking in that situation is I know Pablo is a very aggressive hitter and I didn't have to throw my breaking ball for a strike there on a 3-2 pitch," Billingsley said. "I just wanted to have something around the zone, something to maybe get a ground ball somewhere or a swing and a miss. That's the way the game is. Things don't go the way you want to and you can't do anything about it."
Both starting pitchers faced the minimum through three with just one baserunner, then each had to throw 32 pitches to get through the fourth. Lincecum had made 49 pitches through the first three innings but wound up with 115 in 5 1-3 innings.
The Dodgers played without two key members of their infield. Shortstop and leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal was placed on the 15-day disabled list after he broke his left thumb while sliding headfirst into third base on a steal during Monday night's 6-1 win.
While he won't need surgery, Furcal is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Jamey Carroll will pick up much of the load at shortstop and Uribe also will get time there. Buster Posey's RBI single in the fifth glanced off the glove of a lunging Carroll.
Third baseman Casey Blake missed his third straight start with a deep thigh bruise on his left leg that happened when San Diego baserunner Chase Headley's knee got him in a collision Saturday. He hopes to be back for Wednesday's series finale.
Giants rookie Brandon Belt snapped an 0-for-11 funk with his single leading off the fifth. It was just his second hit of the homestand and sixth in 37 at-bats overall.
NOTES: Hawksworth's wild pitch was only the second of his career in 80 overall appearances. ... 1B Belt took flyballs in RF for the second straight day and manager Bruce Bochy is considering switching him out there for a game soon and bringing Aubrey Huff in to play 1B. Belt's fourth-inning error was the Giants' 10th in 11 games. ... The Giants raised nearly $70,000 to help longtime fan Bryan Stow, who was severely beaten outside Dodger Stadium on March 31. ... The Giants sold out their fifth straight home game to start the year and 15th in a row dating to last Oct. 1 for the opener of a season-ending series vs. San Diego.