LOS ANGELES -- No matter how Thursday night's season opener unfolded, this would be a game like no other for the Giants.They indeed delivered an unusual performance, but not the kind that befitted a reigning champion. Launching the defense of the first World Series title in the franchise's 53 seasons in San Francisco, the Giants committed three errors, including two in the sixth inning that generated an unearned run and helped propel the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-1 triumph. This taut, tense contest recalled numerous games the Giants played during their charmed 2010 season. But the balance tipped in the Dodgers' favor after catcher Buster Posey's awry throw with the bases loaded broke a scoreless tie. Inelegant as Posey's peg looked, it reflected the approach that made the Giants successful. "I want these guys being aggressive," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I don't want them being afraid to make a mistake. That's the way you play. You play to win." Right-hander Tim Lincecum observed that winning the World Series shouldn't be just an achievement for the Giants. It should be a state of mind. "That's not something we're trying to rest on," Lincecum said. "We're trying to use it as a springboard." This purposeful attitude wasn't enough for the Giants, who moved only one runner into scoring position through eight innings against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and reliever Hong-Chih Kuo. Pat Burrell homered off Jonathan Broxton -- shades of last July 31 -- with one out in the ninth, but that had been offset by James Loney's eighth-inning RBI double off Santiago Casilla. Brandon Belt, San Francisco's celebrated first-base prospect making his Major League debut, grounded a second-inning infield single in his first plate appearance. Belt also worked Broxton to a 2-2 count before hitting a soft liner to third baseman Juan Uribe, the ex-Giant, for the game's final out.
"The intensity level was definitely up there," Belt said of his ninth-inning adventure. "I just tried to go up there and breathe and treat it like every other at-bat."The early-evening combination of glare and shadows at Dodger Stadium helped Lincecum and Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw thrive during their seven-inning stints. Lincecum surrendered five hits and stranded eight baserunners, including five in scoring position. Kershaw allowed only one Giant past first base while yielding four hits and striking out nine. But light and shade had nothing to do with what transpired in the Dodgers' half of the sixth. With one out, Matt Kemp walked on a 3-2 pitch that dipped just a little low. Kemp might have swung at it in other circumstances, but not this time.
"It was one of those where it's hard to tell if it's going to be in the zone or not," said Lincecum, acknowledging that the pitch was a ball. "He made a good read on it."Loney tapped a grounder to shortstop Miguel Tejada, who was playing his first game as a Giant. The 14th-year veteran's relay to second base darted wide and into right field. Kemp moved to third base while Loney stayed at first.
"The ball slipped from my hand a little bit," Tejada said. "There's no excuse. It's an error."
Lincecum proceeded to hit Uribe with a fastball to load the bases. Then Posey, after blocking an 0-1 pitch in the dirt, tried to pick off Kemp. But Posey's throw eluded third baseman Pablo Sandoval and rolled into left-field foul territory as Kemp scored."I thought, especially with the ball in the dirt, I might have had a chance of catching him there with his head down," Posey said. "I just made a bad throw. It's that simple." Sandoval expected the throw; surprise was not a factor.
"I saw [Posey's] reaction," Sandoval said.
Posey and Sandoval agreed that Kemp, as he returned to third base, unintentionally blocked Sandoval from grabbing the ball. Even while impeded by Kemp, Sandoval still managed to get part of his glove on the throw.As is often the case in one-run decisions, this one featured multiple what-ifs. Tejada said he wouldn't dwell on the one involving him. "Anything that I would do today, it's done," said Tejada, one of the last Giants to leave the clubhouse. "It wouldn't make any difference for the rest of the season, even if I had hit three home runs. I wish we could have won today. That's more important."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.