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04/02/08 4:03 AM ET
Close decision goes against Giants
One-run loss all too familiar as San Francisco falls in ninth
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- The new season continued Tuesday night for the Giants with a defeat that typified the old year. They fell, 3-2, to the Los Angeles Dodgers as Rafael Furcal raced home from second base on pinch-hitter Delwyn Young's two-out, ninth-inning infield single. The decision dropped the Giants to 0-2 for the second year in a row, and everybody knows how the previous one ended. After enduring numerous close defeats during their last-place 2007 season -- including a 39-55 record in one- and two-run decisions and a 4-16 mark when tied after eight innings -- the Giants resolved to eliminate the lapses that led to such disappointments. Pitching and defense became their mantra. They received plenty of the former against the Dodgers, as Matt Cain lasted 5 2/3 shutout innings and relievers Jack Taschner and Tyler Walker worked effectively. But defense, or maybe just plain circumstances, conspired against the Giants in the ninth. Furcal's one-out single to right field opened Los Angeles' uprising against Keiichi Yabu (0-1). Russell Martin walked on a 3-2 pitch, advancing Furcal. After Yabu struck out Andre Ethier, Young, batting for Takashi Saito (1-0), hit a grounder to the right side that second baseman Ray Durham dove for and smothered. Durham bobbled the ball and threw too late to first base to get Young. The fleet Furcal, who never broke stride around third base, slid home ahead of first baseman Rich Aurilia's throw. Giants manager Bruce Bochy was reluctant to second-guess Durham, but wished that the 14-year veteran would have chosen an alternative. "With the game on the line like that, he probably should have come up looking at home," Bochy said. "After he dove for it, he seemed like he thought he still had a play [at first base]. It was a great effort, but we're better off coming up and throwing home." Catcher Bengie Molina helplessly watched everything unfold. Asked if he knew Furcal would charge home, Molina replied, "All the way. There's two outs. Especially with a ball like that, where Ray had to dive for it, I guess everybody in the stadium knew he was going to go. He was too quick." So quick, said Aurilia, that he believed Durham might not have retired Furcal had he thrown home without hesitating. "It's a long throw for him," Aurilia said. "He had to get on his feet, the grass was wet and the ball was probably wet. It was the perfect placement for that type of play." One inning earlier, Durham appeared to hurt his left shoulder as James Loney upended him to break up a double play. Bochy said that Durham would sit out Wednesday's series finale -- "He had a lot of action out there tonight, so he's going to get a day [off]" -- along with center fielder Dave Roberts, who singled in the first inning before striking out twice. Although the Giants need a reversal of fortune to avoid a series sweep, they'd accept the sort of pitching they received Tuesday. Cain allowed only three hits, but left the game after issuing consecutive two-out walks to Andruw Jones and Loney to load the bases and hike his pitch count to 113. Taschner relieved Cain and ended the sixth by striking out pinch-hitter Matt Kemp. "I got deep into counts too many times," said Cain, who walked four and went 3-2 on five batters who didn't draw a free pass. Cain threw Loney four consecutive balls in the sixth after Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa staged a spectacular argument for straying from the coaching box and was ejected, delaying action. Did the interruption upset Cain's concentration or control? "I knew you guys were going to ask that. No, it didn't," Cain said. Bochy, however, took an opposing view: "It was too long of a delay. It probably did affect him a little bit." The delayed start for the Giants' offense continued. They remain without an extra-base hit. Not only did they waste leadoff singles in the first and sixth innings by grounding into double plays, but they also squandered that rarest of rarities -- an infield single by the ponderous Molina to open the second inning, when San Francisco left the bases loaded. The Giants scored twice in the seventh, as Brian Bocock, who stroked his first Major League hit in the second inning, drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Joe Beimel to deliver the team's first run of the season. But Aurilia grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded before the Dodgers pulled even against Brad Hennessey in their half of the seventh on Furcal's two-run single. "I honestly felt like we outplayed them today," said Aurilia, who was self-critical for not delivering in the seventh. "But we didn't get that one key hit or one key sacrifice fly or whatever, and that cost us."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.