SAN FRANCISCO The Giants finally got the stalwart start they needed from a sagging rotation. They scored a tiebreaking run in the seventh inning after Hunter Pence put down the first sacrifice bunt of his six-year big league career, too.
Most days, that is enough to cue Tony Bennett at AT&T Park.
But the Dodgers are not going away, and the NL West is far from won.
Matt Cains last act was a wild pitch that scored the tying run in the eighth, and the Dodgers battered Jeremy Affeldt in the ninth inning to take a 3-2 victory at AT&T Park on Saturday.
Adrian Gonzalez tripled to the deepest part of right-center field and Hanley Ramirez scored him with a double to nearly the same spot as the Dodgers moved to within 4 games of first place.
Starting pitching report
Cain gave the Giants the kind of quality outing they have lacked of late. For just the second time in 14 games, a Giants starter completed seven innings and Cain was working efficiently enough to go the distance.
He faced one more than the minimum over the first five innings, using double-play grounders to escape the first and second. Then he effectively added and subtracted off his fastball while mixing in a very good curve to induce plenty of weak contact in the air.
But the Dodgers manufactured a run in the sixth after pitcher Chris Capuano reached on a one-out single. Mark Ellis singled to put runners at the corners, and after looking overpowered while falling behind 0-2, Shane Victorino managed to lift a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the score.
The Giants went ahead in the seventh, but Cain couldnt hold the lead in the eighth. He had his share of bad fortune, though, as Juan Riveras leadoff double near the right field stripe bounced out of Hunter Pences glove as he slid in the dirt.
A.J. Ellis sacrificed Rivera to third and Cain, trying to make a perfect pitch to pinch hitter Bobby Abreu, skipped his 3-2 offering past catcher Buster Posey and to the backstop. Cain arrived at the plate at the same time as pinch runner Alex Castellanos, but only inhaled a cloud of dust for his efforts. With the score tied, it was time for Bochy to go to his bullpen.
Cains final line: 7 13 innings, six hits, two runs (both earned), five strikeouts and two wild pitches. He threw 103 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Santiago Casilla was strong again while stranding Abreu in the eighth, but Jeremy Affeldt could not preserve the tie in the ninth. Gonzalez jumped on a first-pitch curveball to hit his first triple of the season, and with the infield playing partially in, Affeldt fell behind Ramirez before throwing a hittable 3-2 fastball.
Affeldt hadnt given up a run in his previous eight appearances.
At the plate
The Giants did well to manufacture their two runs off Chris Capuano, but Pablo Sandoval saw only four pitches in his four at-bats and the Giants couldnt put enough consistent pressure on the left-hander.
The Giants pecked Capuano for a run in the first inning after Marco Scutaro doubled, Pablo Sandoval hit a first-pitch single and Buster Posey lined an RBI hit off the glove of third baseman Luis Cruz.
It wasnt Poseys cleanest hit of the year but an important one, since the Giants cleanup hitter had begun to cool off while hitting .231 in the first six games of September.
The Giants could not bust open a big inning on Capuano, as Hunter Pence lined out to left field and umpire Chad Fairchild ruled that Posey was out on a close play after shortstop Hanley Ramirez bobbled Joaquin Arias grounder before flipping to second base for the force.
Those were the first two of 12 consecutive batters that Capuano retired, and the Giants needed the benefit of a blown call to break that streak in the fifth.
Gregor Blanco laid down a bunt but replays clearly showed that Capuano stepped on the bag first. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly argued to no avail. The bad calls evened out, though, when Blanco tried to go from first to third on Cains sacrifice bunt. Catcher A.J. Ellis alertly sprinted to cover third base and applied a tag on Blanco; umpire Alfonso Marquez called Blanco out even though replays appeared to show he reached the bag before he was tagged. This time, it was Bochys turn to argue a call.
Posey started the Giants tiebreaking rally in the seventh with a wicked double that ate up Cruz and rolled into the left field corner. Hunter Pence followed with a bunt the first sacrifice hit of his six-year major league career and Brandon Belt scored Posey with a line drive that Capuano only managed to knock down. Capuano was able to recover in time to throw out Belt at first base.
The Giants had a chance in the eighth against Ronald Belisario after Scutaro drew a one-out walk, but Sandoval hit into a fielders choice on the first pitch. After Posey drew a two-out walk, Pence struck out to strand two.
The Giants were down to their last strike in the ninth when Blanco hit a surprising double that Castellanos couldnt handle as he crashed into the left field wall. But pinch hitter Hector Sanchez lined out to third base on Brandon Leagues second pitch to end it.
Bochy said prior to the game that the strong sun makes left field tougher to play during day games at AT&T Park, which is part of the reason he started Gregor Blanco against a left-handed pitcher. Blanco demonstrated it, struggling on rubbery legs to catch a pair of fly balls.
The most impressive defensive contributions were made by Posey, who threw out all three Dodgers who attempted to steal against him.
The Giants announced 41,791 paid. And zero Melky Cabrera T-shirts given away.
The Giants play the all-important rubber match of their three-game series with the Dodgers on Sunday, with the first pitch pushed back to 5:06 p.m. (PDT) to accommodate ESPN. Barry Zito (10-8, 4.51) will pitch on his scheduled day against left-hander Clayton Kershaw (12-8, 2.79), whom the Dodgers moved up so he could face the NL West leaders.