SAN FRANCISCO -- Entering a stretch of the season in which they face seven straight All-Star pitchers, the Mets knew their margin for error would be practically nonexistent.
That proved to be true with two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum on the mound Saturday night in AT&T Park, and the Mets' inability to turn key double plays came back to haunt them. San Francisco scored all three of its runs on failed double-play attempts, and the Giants prevailed, 3-1, over the Mets.
The first missed double-play opportunity came in the bottom of the first after left-hander Chris Capuano walked Aaron Rowand to load the bases. Nate Schierholtz dropped an RBI single just past second base. Shortstop Ruben Tejada missed the tag on a sliding Pat Burrell and threw the ball late to first baseman Lucas Duda, allowing one run to score.
The Mets followed that up by whiffing on another double-play attempt. Aubrey Huff bounced one up the middle, and Justin Turner made the throw to Tejada to force out Schierholtz. But Tejada once again couldn't connect with Duda to record the final out of the inning, allowing Pablo Sandoval to score and give the Giants a 2-1 lead.
"We didn't turn a double play. That was the biggest difference. We turn a double play, we're out of the inning," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "After we didn't turn a play, [Capuano] made good enough pitches to get out of it and get out of the jam, and I thought he threw the ball very good. They shouldn't have scored."
Lincecum pitched well, but the Mets had plenty of chances against the All-Star right-hander. In each of his six innings, Lincecum recorded the first two outs before allowing at least one baserunner -- mostly on walks. The Mets took advantage in the first, scoring one run on consecutive doubles by Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy, but failed to do so the rest of the way.
"This is the way they're going to be," Collins said. "They're going to be 2-1 and 3-2, and we can't make errors. Not that we made errors, but we've got to get outs when they're obtainable."
They even had a chance in the ninth, when Tejada drew a walk off reliever Javier Lopez, setting up right-hander Sergio Romo to face pinch-hitter Scott Hairston, the hero of Friday night's 5-2 win. But Romo threw Hairston three straight sliders, striking him out to end the game.
"He's a good hitter, especially against us. His track record obviously speaks for itself," Romo said. "But I wasn't really worried about that. I was worried about getting the job done."
While the Mets were failing to capitalize on their opportunities, Capuano didn't give the Giants many past the first inning. The lefty pitched three perfect frames before walking Lincecum and running into a little trouble in the fifth, working his way out of a jam with runners on the corners. Capuano finished after six innings with four hits, four walks and five strikeouts, the sixth time out of his last seven outings he has recorded a quality start.
The two runs in the first inning did bring about the end of one streak for Capuano, however. It was the only time the left-hander allowed a run in the opening frame through 16 starts this season -- the longest such streak in the Majors before it came to an end Saturday night. Capuano said he was aware of the streak but wasn't thinking about it on the mound, nor did he blame the lack of successful double plays for the loss.
"I don't care if they make a great diving play or boot balls or whatever. I still need to keep making pitches," Capuano said. "A lot of them were in-between plays. They weren't exactly tailor-made, and that happens sometimes."
The Giants tacked on an insurance run in the seventh against right-hander Bobby Parnell. Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada knocked consecutive singles, with Rowand hustling to third on Tejada's base hit. Sandoval, who extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a first-inning double, then plated Rowand with an RBI fielder's choice -- yet another failed double-play attempt.
While their defensive efforts left quite a bit to be desired Saturday night, the Mets weren't much better at the plate. Their four doubles were their only hits on the night.
"It would have been a tough struggle anyway," Collins said. "When you're facing those quality pitchers, those guys step it up when guys are in scoring position, and they're tough to score on. We were fortunate, really, to get one in the first."
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.