SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' 6-3 loss Wednesday to the San Diego Padres could have been compared to a bad dream. Buster Posey wasn't in the lineup. Neither was Pablo Sandoval. And Tim Lincecum's ineffectiveness returned.Of course, this wasn't a dream. It was a dreadfully real ballgame in which San Diego out-hit the Giants 11-2 entering the bottom of the eighth inning. Still, the Giants could shrug off this performance as if it were the nightmarish product of an active imagination. Lincecum didn't perform as poorly as his pitching line would indicate. Posey was merely getting a rest. Sandoval's strained left hamstring is potentially troublesome, since it could send the hard-hitting third baseman to the disabled list. But the Giants remain hopeful that Sandoval can heal sufficiently within a few days to avoid his second DL stint of the year. Besides, the Giants have no reason to dwell on this setback, which ended their six-game home winning streak. Following Thursday's scheduled off-day, the National League West leaders will begin a three-game weekend showdown Friday against the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park. "I expect it to be intense," Giants second baseman Ryan Theriot said. "I expect the energy to be through the roof. As a competitor, that's what you want." So the Giants had no reason to let this defeat gnaw at them, though they squandered their eighth opportunity in 11 attempts to complete a sweep in a series of three games or more. Lincecum posted the dreary-looking numbers that have dogged him through most of the season. He allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. But the right-hander also struck out eight, indicating that he possessed decent stuff. "I look more at how he started that game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum, who struck out the side in the first inning. "He looked like he was going to be sharp." "Hopefully this isn't a step backward," said Lincecum, who failed to last five innings for the fifth time this season. The long ball plagued Lincecum. Chase Headley's two-out homer in the first inning ended Lincecum's 15-inning scoreless streak at home. Ex-Giant Jesus Guzman hit a two-run homer in the fifth. What happened in between might have spoiled Lincecum's afternoon most. Will Venable, who struck out in each of his first two at-bats, blooped a two-run, bases-loaded double to left-center field in the fourth inning, snapping a 1-1 tie. Center fielder Angel Pagan nearly caught the ball with a diving backhanded try. "I thought he made a good effort," Bochy said of Pagan. "[The ball] just died. He couldn't quite get to it, that's all." Lincecum said that Venable's hit "kind of made the difference in the game. It was a tough play to make; it was out there in no-man's land where he hit it." Lincecum didn't merely curse his bad luck. Before Venable's hit, he surrendered singles to Guzman and John Baker before walking Everth Cabrera. They occupied the sixth through eighth spots in San Diego's batting order. "I feel like I could have done better against those hitters to get out of that situation instead of leading to a bases-loaded bloop," Lincecum said. Meanwhile, Padres starter Jason Marquis limited the Giants' diluted lineup to three hits in 7 1/3 innings. "This was one of the better games I've seen him pitch, and I played with Jason a while in Chicago," Theriot said. "He was sinking the fastball and he had a great slider going today." After Guzman homered off Brad Penny to christen the eighth inning and record his first career multi-homer game, the Giants trailed 6-1, but brought the potential tying run to the plate after rallying for a pair of unearned runs. San Diego closer Huston Street ended the uprising by striking out Melky Cabrera, whose first-inning sacrifice fly drove in the Giants' first run. "A couple of National League All-Stars going at it," Padres manager Bud Black said admiringly of the Cabrera-Street confrontation. "You saw the fastball for a strike and a couple of nice changeups. Melky is a tough out. That was a good matchup of two guys at the top of their game."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.