SAN FRANCISCO – Jon Lester shut out the Giants over eight and one-third dominant innings to lead the Red Sox to a 7-0 win Monday in the opener of a three-game series on the shores of McCovey Cove.
While Lester looked at home on the AT&T Park mound, Tim Lincecum struggled both on and with the mound in a rough outing, especially in a 31-pitch three-run second inning that included a bizarre balk and catcher’s interference combination.
After five straight games scoring at least four or more runs, a season-high, the Giants went without an extra-base hit in the shutout loss.
Starting pitching report
Tim Lincecum is no stranger to nightmare innings. The Red Sox did their best Freddy Krueger impression in the second inning Monday, as they loaded the bases with no outs en route to a three-run rally.
Lincecum struck out two while working around a one-out double in the first inning, but was in trouble immediately in the second. Boston scored the game’s first run on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly from Will Middlebrooks and then took advantage of Lincecum and the Giants unraveling.
With Red Sox starter Jon Lester at the plate and runners at the corners, Lincecum’s back foot slipped off the rubber for a run-scoring balk. The inning only got stranger from there, as an eight-pitch battle with Jacoby Ellsbury ended with a catcher’s interference call on Buster Posey. Shane Victorino, a switch-hitter surprisingly batting right-handed, followed with a single to make it 3-0 Red Sox before Lincecum got Dustin Pedroia to fly out to end a 31-pitch inning.
The marathon inning took its toll on Lincecum the rest of the way. The Red Sox loaded the bases again in the third, but didn’t score, and added to their lead with runs in the fifth and sixth. Stephen Drew drove in Boston’s fourth run with a double to the wall in right-centerfield on a 3-2 fastball and Ellsbury led off the sixth with a single, knocking Lincecum from the game, before coming around to score.
Lincecum’s final line: 5+ IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 4 BB (2 IBB), 4 K (103 pitches, 62 strikes). He fell to 6-13 on the season and now owns a 4.53 ERA.
Bruce Bochy lifted Lincecum with Ellsbury on first with no outs in the sixth and turned the ball over to Guillermo Moscoso, who promptly hit the first batter he faced in Victorino. A double play erased that mistake, but before Moscoso struck out David Ortiz, he threw a wild pitch that allowed his inherited runner, Ellsbury, to score from third.
While Moscoso added a run to Lincecum’s pitching line, he did not allow a hit and struck out four over three innings.
The Red Sox added two insurance runs off Jose Mijares in the ninth.
At the plate
The Giants brought a season-high streak of five straight games with four or more runs into Monday’s series-opener, but looked lost against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, who came up two outs short of his second career complete game in two starts at AT&T Park.
Lester needed just six pitches to sit the Giants down in order in the first. Buster Posey led off the second with a six-pitch at-bat that ended with a deep drive that died at the wall in left, the closest the Giants got to scoring against Lester.
Andres Torres broke up Lester’s short-lived bid at perfection with a leadoff single in the fourth and gave the Giants just their second hit of the game with another single in the sixth.
Between Torres’ singles only two Giants reached base. Hunter Pence reached on an error to lead off the fifth and was quickly sent back to the dugout after a Pablo Sandoval double play. And Brett Pill, who entered the game on a double-switch, worked the first of his two walks on the evening just ahead of Torres’ sixth-inning single. Brandon Belt stranded both Pill and Torres with a soft liner to left.
Lester worked around a leadoff single from Posey in the seventh and induced a double-play grounder from Marco Scutaro to end the eighth after the Giants put a rare runner in scoring position following Pill’s second walk and Torres’ third single.
While it was too little, too late, Posey and Pence knocked Lester from the game with back-to-back one-out singles in the ninth. But Joaquin Arias and Hector Sanchez both struck out against Brandon Workman to end the game.
The Giants finished with six hits, all singles, and left seven runners on base.
In the field
Torres avoided an error, but lost control of the ball during a transfer from glove hand to throwing hand in the nightmare second inning, a day after a costly miscue in Miami.
Posey was charged with his sixth error of the season for the catcher’s interference call in the second inning.
The Giants have now gone six straight games with at least one error.
Attendance The Giants announced their 227th straight sellout with a crowd of 41,585 fans. There was a sizeable contingent of Boston supporters already present before first pitch for a pregame rendition of Fenway favorite ‘Sweet Caroline’ as the Giants honored the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
The Giants continue their series with the Red Sox on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. with Boston sending RHP Jake Peavy (9-5, 4.41 ERA) to the mound to oppose RHP Ryan Vogelsong (2-4, 6.75 ERA).