SAN FRANCISCO – Literally, and perhaps figuratively, the Giants got caught looking ahead Saturday night.
They were playing on the 16th of 17 consecutive days without a break, which will come on Monday when they fly to Denver. This is a flagging team.
But looking ahead hurt them in a literal sense, too. A Brandon Hicks drive near the top of the right field arcade, which missed going out by the width of a few bricks, got shrunk from a homer to a double to a 1-3 putout in the second inning.
The Marlins challenged that Hicks, who was watching the flight of the ball, missed first base. Someone in New York must’ve had an angle that was more definitive than anything on the Giants’ or Marlins’ telecasts, because Hicks was called out and the Giants were off base the rest of the night in a 5-0 loss at AT&T Park.
Tom Koehler and three relievers handed the Giants their third shutout loss of the season.
The Marlins also guaranteed they would do no worse than split this four-game series after entering a major league worst 5-16 on the road with losses in all six of their series away from Marlins Park.
Starting pitching report
Tim Lincecum hung a mess o’breaking balls, he fell behind hitters, he walked the pitcher to start one and he allowed a run-scoring rally to bloom in another when he issued a pair of two-out walks.
It was a minor miracle, then, that Lincecum (3-3) met the minimum standards for a quality start. He gave up three runs in six innings, mostly because he found a way to strand runners in each of his final five frames.
The pair of two-out walks hurt him in the second inning when Adeiny Hechevarria slapped a hanging breaking ball to right field for an RBI single. Hunter Pence made a strong throw to the plate but it was a smidge up the line, and catcher Hector Sanchez’s diving attempt at a swipe tag missed Jarrod Saltalamacchia as he scored from second base.
It was a 1-0 game into the sixth inning, when Casey McGehee hit a leadoff double and Garrett Jones followed with his triple that barely escaped Pagan’s diving attempt in center field. Saltalamacchia followed with a sacrifice fly.
Lincecum did manage to contain Giancarlo Stanton, who struck out in the first inning when he couldn’t check his swing on a high fastball. Stanton struck for a two-out triple in the third but was stranded.
Lincecum threw 112 pitches and didn’t have the same command of his fastball and harder curve that he used to strike out 11 in his previous start against the Atlanta Braves.
David Huff served up a solo shot to Stanton in the seventh inning.
At the plate
The Giants did not muster many opportunities against Koehler, who was 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his four home starts but hadn’t won on the road before Saturday night.
Perhaps AT&T Park is as comfortable as South Florida for Koehler, even if the weather is a bit crisper here. Last year, he beat the Giants at AT&T Park when he held them to a run on three hits in seven innings.
The Giants had their shot in the second inning when Hector Sanchez drew a leadoff walk and went to third on Hicks’ apparent double high off the bricks above the No.1 archway. But instead of runners at second and third with one out, the Marlins won their challenge and Hicks was called out for missing first base (scored as a 1-3 putout).
Hunter Pence hit a two-out triple in the third inning but Pablo Sandoval struck out. The Giants didn’t get another runner into scoring position against Koehler, who yielded just four hits and two walks while striking out seven in seven innings.
Sandoval did manage to extend his hitting streak to seven games when he singled in the first inning.
The Giants also managed to load the bases in the ninth before Tyler Colvin struck out. At least they forced the Marlins to use closer Steve Cishek for a second consecutive day, and you never know if that might make a difference in Sunday’s series finale.
Pence was charged with a two-base error in right field in the ninth when he dropped Hechevarria’s fly ball while trying to make a running basket catch. Jeff Baker followed with an RBI single to left field off Huff.
It was just the second unearned run charged to the Giants in the last 11 games.
The Giants announced 41,619 paid on Fedora night. Nobody scored three goals so the Giants will have to buy all new hats to give away next year.
Have a safe and fun Bay to Breakers, everyone.
The Giants and Marlins wrap up their four-game series on Sunday at AT&T Park. Ryan Vogelsong (1-2, 4.22 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Jacob Turner (0-1, 6.75). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.