SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw matched each other pitch for pitch, knowing the smallest mistake could cost their team the game.
``I flinched first,' Lincecum said.
Kershaw was one pitch better than Lincecum in a matchup of All-Star aces, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers past the San Francisco Giants 1-0 to avoid a three-game sweep.
Lincecum (8-8) allowed only Dioner Navarro's home run leading off the seventh. The splash shot that landed in McCovey Cove was all the pop Los Angeles showed on a day hitting coach Jeff Pentland was fired, and all they needed behind Kershaw's gem.
``Clayton's ridiculous again,' Lincecum said. ``I think he's reached his potential just from watching him.'
Kershaw (11-4) allowed three hits in eight innings to help the Dodgers snap a four-game losing streak and six overall to the Giants. He struck out 12 to improve his major-league lead to 167 this season.
The hard-throwing lefty lowered his ERA against San Francisco to 1.41, the lowest of any pitcher against the defending World Series champions. He also beat Lincecum on opening day this season.
``We were struggling. We needed a win,' he said. ``The wins count the same no matter who they're against.'
San Francisco's shaggy-haired righty seemed in control on a day he had to be at his dominating best.
Lincecum allowed five hits in seven-plus innings in another solid start with little run support. He struck out seven and walked four, never getting into any serious jams.
Giants All-Star third baseman Pablo Sandoval didn't start because of tightness in his right quadriceps and right fielder Nate Scheirholtz was given the day off, and the retooled lineup didn't give Lincecum any room for error.
All it took was one pitch to wash away an otherwise solid start.
Navarro became the 24th opposing player and first this season to hit a home run into McCovey Cove, taking a 1-0 fastball off Lincecum over the right-field wall in the seventh. It was the fourth time Lincecum gave up a splash shot in his career, and the eighth time this season he walked off the mound with his team held scoreless.
``You got two of the better young talents in the game going at it, and I guess the game went pretty much went how I thought except they got the run one,' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``These are two of the best and we are in the same division so it won't be the last time they match up.'
Navarro knew the ball was gone the second he hit it, and he found out watching the video replay in the clubhouse that it was a true splash shot - something he's always wanted to do.
``I've been trying to reach that was since day one,' Navarro said. ``I never could. Not even in batting practice.'
That was all the support Los Angeles' ace needed.
The Dodgers committed three errors with some sloppy defense, getting bailed out by Kershaw each time. Navarro twice threw into center field trying to throw out a runner at second only to have Kershaw strand them at third in the first two innings.
Second baseman Jamey Carroll couldn't corral a hard-hit ball by Brandon Belt in the fourth, and the Giants rookie hustled into second. Then Kershaw got Emmanuel Burriss to ground out and end the inning, and San Francisco never got closer.
Javy Guerra pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
NOTES: The Giants optioned C Hector Sanchez to Triple-A Fresno to make room for 2B Jeff Keppinger, who they acquired in a trade with Houston on Tuesday. Keppinger's flight was delayed and he arrived late. He flied out to left in the seventh and stayed in to play second. ... Injured Giants C Buster Posey made an appearance in the clubhouse before the game. He was still pushing himself around in a makeshift scooter that supports his reconstructed left ankle.
The Associated Press News Service
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