SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A celebratory opening weekend at home for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants ended with a dud.
Barry Zito walked five batters before being knocked out in the sixth inning and the Giants were unable to generate much offense against Kyle Lohse, falling 6-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
``It's a huge deal what the San Francisco Giants accomplished last year and a huge deal for the city,' Zito said. ``But the reality is we have games to win today, tomorrow and the next day. So I think it was amazing, the ceremonies. They did it as good as they could have. Now we just move forward and focus on the game.'
The loss capped a big weekend in San Francisco, where the Giants raised their World Series championship banner before Friday's home opener, handed out World Series rings Saturday and honored 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey in a pregame ceremony Sunday.
After rallying for late wins following the first two celebrations, the Giants fell short Sunday and now can get ready to play games without all the pomp and circumstance.
``I don't want to say it's a relief. We were looking forward to it,' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``There might have been a little hangover today. It's been a very emotional first couple of games here, but their guy pitched well. Give him credit. That's where it starts. He was on top of his game.'
David Freese went 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs and Lohse allowed one run in eight innings to help St. Louis snap a three-game losing streak.
Matt Holliday scored the go-ahead run and added an RBI single in his first game since undergoing an appendectomy April 1 to help the Cardinals win for just the third time in nine games this season. Skip Schumaker added a two-run double in a three-run sixth that gave the Cardinals the lead for good.
After San Francisco overcame ninth-inning deficits to win the first two games of this series, the Cardinals managed to hold onto this lead without using struggling closer Ryan Franklin. Lohse (1-1) allowed five hits and handed a big lead over to Trever Miller, who finished with a scoreless ninth.
``Their guy threw the ball well today,' Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval said. ``Give him credit. We tried to do too much at the plate. We can't win every day.'
St. Louis also overcame another rough day for three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols, whose early struggles have played a big part in St. Louis' slow start. Pujols, in the final year of his contract, went 0 for 5 to drop his average to .143 with just one extra-base hit through nine games.
Pujols hit into a double play after the Cardinals put the first two batters on in the third inning and was taunted before his next at-bat by fans chanting ``one-five-six' for his season average at that point.
After Pujols grounded out to lead off the sixth, the Cardinals started their go-ahead rally when Zito (0-1) walked Holliday and Allen Craig. Freese then hit an RBI double to make it 2-1 and Schumaker added a two-run double that hit off center fielder Aaron Rowand's glove after a long run to the gap in left-center.
That ended the day for Zito, who allowed four runs, six hits and five walks in 5 1-3 innings to lose his first home start since getting booed off the mound on the final weekend of the regular season last year.
``All day I was battling my timing in the delivery,' Zito said. ``The ball was getting up. That's the core of my frustration in the outing was not throwing strikes. I've been throwing strikes all spring. It was a timing issue with the delivery. It's just something that gets out of whack when you try to do too much.'
Holliday added an RBI single in the seventh, giving him four hits and three RBIs in just two games this season. Freese led off the eighth with his first homer off Guillermo Mota to make it 6-1.
The teams traded RBI singles in the first two innings, with Sandoval getting a broken-bat, two-out hit to score Freddy Sanchez in the first for San Francisco and Freese answering with his own in the second. That's where the game stayed until the Cardinals' three-run sixth - their biggest inning of the season.
NOTES: Posey was one of a handful of regulars who got the day off for the Giants, with CF Andres Torres sitting with a mild left Achilles' strain and SS Miguel Tejada getting a planned day off. ... Torres will be in a boot for a couple of days before being re-evalauted, Bochy said.
The Associated Press News Service
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