PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Diamondbacks have made a habit of comebacks in their surge toward the top of the NL West.
In a big hole early after a rare shaky outing by rookie Josh Collmenter, the Diamondbacks couldn't make it all the way back Tuesday night.
They sure had their chances, though.
Collmenter allowed nearly as many runs in five innings as he had all season and the Diamondbacks came up just short after falling behind by five, losing to the San Francisco Giants 6-5 in the opener of a three-game series between the NL West's top two teams.
``We were able to get close but we couldn't finish it,' Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero said.
Collmenter (4-2) had been dominating since joining the rotation in mid-May, winning three of his six starts with a minuscule 1.12 ERA.
The over-the-top-throwing right-hander didn't have his best stuff against the Giants, allowing five runs - one fewer than he had in 14 previous outings - on eight hits in five innings to put Arizona in a big hole it couldn't quite climb out of.
``There were a couple of close pitches, but I wasn't commanding the zone like I usually am,' said Collmenter, who had his 13-inning scoreless streak snapped in the first. ``Wasn't able to pound strikes and get ahead. I was falling behind too much.'
Arizona still had its chances.
Despite a slew of injuries, San Francisco had stayed in the NL West race with the surging Diamondbacks by scratching out a few runs while relying on solid pitching.
A team with the second-lowest run support in the NL (3.61 per game), the Giants found themselves in an unfamiliar spot after Cody Ross hit a two-run double and scored on a double steal in the fifth inning off Collmenter.
Leading 5-0 after five innings, San Francisco watched starter Matt Cain (6-4) nearly give it all back, allowing Arizona to pull within 5-4 on Montero's three-run homer in the sixth inning.
But, back in the comfort of a close game, the Giants closed it out.
Nate Schierholtz gave San Francisco a cushion run with a run-scoring double in the seventh and the combination of Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez bridged the gap to Brian Wilson.
The shaggy-bearded closer made it interesting, walking two and uncorking a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with two outs, but struck out Stephen Drew looking for his 19th save to push the Giants 1 1/2 games ahead of Arizona.
``Doesn't matter the team, we usually play tight games,' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``We don't have too many games that get out of hand either way.'
This three-day meeting for first place features teams in different states of mind.
The Giants have had a rough go of defending their World Series title, battered and beaten down by a tough stretch in the schedule and a tougher stretch of injuries.
Catcher Buster Posey (ankle) is out for the season, second baseman Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) for who knows how long and rookie Brandon Belt (wrist) possibly another month. San Francisco had gone 20 days without a day off before traveling on Monday.
Despite the roster attrition, the Giants have stayed near the top of the NL West, winning eight of 12 games to enter the series against Arizona a half-game ahead. They also got slugging third baseman Pablo Sandoval back after more than a month on the disabled list with a broken right wrist.
The Diamondbacks had made a surprising run toward the top.
Already 6 1/2 games out of first at the end of April, Arizona turned it around quickly in May, a 15-2 stretch igniting seven wins in 10 series. The Diamondbacks were coming off three straight road wins over Florida, moving them seven games above .500 for the first time since Aug. 23, 2008 (68-61).
San Francisco look as if it were going to run away with the series opener, getting an RBI single from Sandoval in the first inning, another on Cain's safety squeeze in the fourth and three in the fifth on Ross' two-run double and the double steal.
Cain had the Diamondbacks guessing through four innings before Ryan Roberts drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Montero made what had been a one-sided game close with one swing of the bat the next inning, lifting his three-run homer to right.
Schierholtz put San Francisco up two with a double in the seventh inning, an important run after Arizona's Justin Upton hit an RBI double in the bottom half to make it 6-5.
Upton's hit chased Cain, who allowed five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings.
``I just need to stay locked in and I didn't do that the last couple of innings,' said Cain, who has a five-game winning streak against Arizona.
San Francisco's bullpen made sure it didn't hurt him.
NOTES: Despite a temperature of 104 degrees at first pitch, the roof at Chase Field was open. ... Arizona CF Chris Young had his errorless streak end at 66 games when he booted Schierholtz's double in the seventh. ... Cain has pitched 1,188 career innings, passing John Montefusco for eighth on San Francisco's career list.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved