PHOENIX -- A victory might have been the lone prize the Giants didn't claim Friday night.They showed sufficient promise during their season-opening, 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks to legitimize their hopes of remaining contenders in the National League West. San Francisco outhit the reigning division champions, 11-7. Tim Lincecum struck out five consecutive batters at one juncture. Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, the batting order's top hitters, launched a comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Buster Posey celebrated his return to regular-season activity with two hits, a figure matched by Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval. The bullpen contributed 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Ultimately, that wasn't enough. Lincecum yielded three first-inning runs on a pair of homers, which forced the Giants to keep scrambling as afternoon turned to evening at Chase Field. San Francisco committed three errors, including one by Posey that helped Arizona score a pair of tiebreaking runs in the sixth. And, as was frequently the case last year, the Giants didn't hit enough in the clutch, going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Lincecum was summarizing his own effort, but he might as well have referred to the entire team when he remarked, "With the exception of that first inning, I settled down pretty well. I was all right, but all right isn't good enough on Opening Day. That's tough to take." The Giants' relative success against D-backs ace Ian Kennedy accounted for much of their frustration. Kennedy dominated the Giants last year, when he finished 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA in five starts against them. He allowed two or fewer runs in each of those games, enhancing his credentials as a 21-game winner. But the Giants couldn't subdue the right-hander when they had a chance, which occurred in the first inning. After Cabrera lashed a one-out double, Sandoval flied out to deep right field on a ball that he seemingly couldn't hit any harder -- except he launched it too skyward. Posey walked before Aubrey Huff flied out to end the threat. Arizona jumped on Lincecum, who made his fourth consecutive Opening Day start, in its half of the first. Chris Young, batting .152 (7-for-46) lifetime against Lincecum, drove a 2-2 pitch into the left-field seats. Two outs later, Paul Goldschmidt, who went 5-for-9 with two homers off Lincecum as a rookie last year, drilled a 3-1 pitch over the left-field barrier for another homer. "I didn't feel like my control was off," Lincecum said. "I just missed location on a couple of pitches and they made me pay for it." Lincecum, who acknowledged being furious with himself, recovered to limit Arizona to one hit in the next four innings. That earned him Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's admiration. "What a competitor [Lincecum] is," Gibson said. "He just has a way about him and he's hard to predict. He's always a challenge. He's as good a competitor as I know." The rest of the Giants also displayed pluck, pulling even on Cabrera's two-run homer in the fifth and Brandon Crawford's run-scoring groundout in the sixth, which followed singles by Huff and Brandon Belt and a sacrifice bunt from Ryan Theriot.
As Posey said, "I think we're the type of offense that's going to have to grind it out."The D-backs proved adept at this skill as Ryan Roberts' two-run double broke a 3-3 tie in their half of the sixth. Justin Upton lashed a ground-rule double to open the inning and moved to third base on Miguel Montero's fly ball. After Goldschmidt walked, Jason Kubel hit a chopper in front of home plate that appeared destined to spin foul. Posey, catching his first meaningful game since he sustained massive left leg injuries last May 25, tried to grab the ball to throw out Kubel but bobbled it for an error. That loaded the bases, which Roberts partially cleared with his liner to left field that scored Upton and Goldschmidt. Giants manager Bruce Bochy found no fault with Posey's attempted play.
"On that ball, you want to keep it fair and get the out," Bochy said. "It just bounced out of his glove."Said Posey, "That was a weird one. It had some kind of funky spin on it and caught the side of my glove. If I could go back, I might try to trap it in my glove." The Giants weren't finished. Spring Training sensation Gregor Blanco drilled a pinch-hit single to open the ninth against D-backs closer J.J. Putz and set up Sandoval's two-out RBI double. Up came Posey, who would have inspired a thousand screenplays with a big, well-placed hit. He connected solidly, but grounded out to shortstop on a 2-0 pitch. "He was throwing a cutter," Posey said of Putz. "It was a decent pitch to hit; it was down a little bit. That's the way it goes sometimes."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.