Cold bats doom Zito, Giants vs. Dodgers
San Francisco falls 1 1/2 games behind Padres in NL West
SAN FRANCISCO -- Five Giants pitchers combined to one-hit the Dodgers on Tuesday night, and usually a performance of that caliber is good enough for a victory.Instead, a wild sixth inning featuring a hit batter, two walks and an error on a makeable play was the difference, as Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw outshone San Francisco's collective effort with his first career shutout to beat the Giants, 1-0, at AT&T Park. The 22-year-old Kershaw held the Giants to four hits and struck out four while walking zero, getting through all nine frames on 111 pitches. "Clayton was getting all of his pitches over for strikes," Giants center fielder Cody Ross said. "He was starting guys off with sliders and curveballs and he was getting you to chase. He didn't make too many mistakes; neither did [Giants starter and losing pitcher Barry Zito] or any of our guys. They pitched just as good. We just couldn't figure out a way to push one across." It was the second time this season the Giants have lost a game despite holding the opponent to only one hit, the other time coming April 20 in a 1-0 loss to San Diego. The loss, coupled with the Padres holding off the Rockies for a 7-6 win, dropped the Giants to 1 1/2 games behind San Diego in the National League West and Atlanta in the Wild Card race. "We would take that any day, one run all the way through," Ross said of the effort by the Giants pitching staff. "But today, Clayton was on. You've got to give them credit sometimes." The game's lone run came in the sixth inning when, with one out, Zito hit Reed Johnson on the hand with a fastball, giving the Dodgers just their third baserunner of the game. Zito said he was surprised the pitch -- which he said might have been on the black -- hit Johnson. Johnson moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kershaw, but Zito walked Rafael Furcal on four straight pitches, and Andre Ethier also drew a walk to load the bases. "The walk to Ethier," Zito said afterward, "that's the one I'd want back." Casey Blake followed with a hard chopper up the middle that bounced off the mound and was gloved behind second base by Giants shortstop Juan Uribe. But Uribe fumbled the ball out of his glove on the exchange for the attempted shuffle pass to second baseman Freddy Sanchez and Johnson scored the game's only run. The play was ruled an error, a call with which Uribe said he agreed. "I wouldn't say this was a difficult play. I think of it as an easy play," Uribe said. "An easy ground ball -- [it] gave me a good bounce and I was able to catch the ball, but when I tried to put the ball in my hand, I lost it." Zito exited after the error, throwing 5 2/3 innings, and Giants reliever Santiago Casilla struck out Matt Kemp to escape further damage. Although Zito (8-13) allowed only one hit -- a second-inning single by Kemp -- and Johnson's run was unearned, the lefty suffered a loss in his seventh straight start and a career-high ninth straight decision, tying a mark from March 31-May 17, 2008. On Tuesday, as often has been the case during this stretch, he ran into another hot pitcher. Zito and Kershaw (12-10) kept the bats almost completely silent Tuesday night, as both pitchers faced the minimum 12 batters through the first four innings. The first hit Kershaw allowed came in the fourth, a single by Sanchez, and the left-hander allowed only only three more -- Uribe's fifth-inning single, a sixth-inning ground-rule double by Ross and Sanchez's two-out single in the ninth. "They were swinging at a lot of pitches and I got quick outs," said Kershaw, shaking off the credit. "That's all there was to it. "They're an aggressive team and I kept my pitch count down." In all, Zito still has not won a start since July 16 against the Mets, but said he has felt good in his past two outings. And although Uribe's miscue was the play that will make the highlight reel, it doesn't completely overshadow San Francisco's true issue: Despite going 7-3 on their road trip, the Giants are hitting .210 (77-for-367) in their past 11 games. "We've got to score," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It wasn't pitching or really defense -- we've got to get runs on the board. We got shut out and that's the difference in the game."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.