SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Chris Capuano got the grounders he was seeking to escape a first-inning jam. Unfortunately for Capuano, the New York Mets fielders couldn't turn them into inning-ending double plays.
Capuano allowed his first two first-inning runs of the season on potential double play grounders and the Mets went on to lose to the San Francisco Giants 3-1 Saturday night.
``They weren't exactly tailor made,' Capuano said. ``They were a little bit in between. They were tough turns.'
The Giants got both of their runs off Capuano (8-8) after loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the first. Capuano then got Nate Schierholtz to hit a grounder up the middle to shortstop Ruben Tejada, who tried to tag Pat Burrell to start an inning-ending double play.
But Tejada missed the tag near second base and his throw to first was late, allowing Miguel Tejada to score on the infield hit. San Francisco added a second run when first baseman Lucas Duda couldn't hold onto Ruben Tejada's relay throw from second on Aubrey Huff's fielder's choice groundout.
``We turn the double play and we're out of the inning,' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ``We've got to get outs when they're obtainable.'
Capuano had not allowed a run in the opening inning in his previous 16 starts this season, making him the only pitcher in the majors with at least five starts who had not allowed a first-inning run.
He gave up nothing after the first, allowing two runs, four hits and four walks to end a three-start winning streak.
``Capuano made good enough pitches to get out of the jam,' Collins said. ``I thought he threw the ball good. They should not have scored.'
The two runs proved to be enough for Tim Lincecum (7-7), who labored through six innings to win for the second time in his past eight starts.
Pablo Sandoval had two hits and also drove in a run on another fielder's choice groundout that the Mets couldn't turn into an inning-ending double play
The win assured that the World Series champion Giants would go into the All-Star break in sole possession of first place in the NL West for the first time since 2003. San Francisco has a two-game lead over Arizona with one game left before the break.
The victory also assures that Lincecum will head to the All-Star game without a losing record. Lincecum was selected to the NL team by Bochy in a move that appeared to be as much a reward for what he had done in the past as it was for how he pitched in the first half this season.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner was 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA in his past eight starts, but managed to limit the Mets to one run in six innings.
Lincecum retired the first two batters every inning, but failed to set the Mets down in order even once. He avoided damage after allowing one run in the first inning, but the extra work drove up his pitch count and he was pulled after six innings with 114 pitches. He allowed four hits and four walks, with six strikeouts.
``Just getting through those innings was a battle for me,' Lincecum said. ``Just getting out of them was good enough for me.'
Santiago Casilla pitched a perfect seventh, Javier Lopez got five outs and Sergio Romo struck out Scott Hairston with a man on first for his first save since 2009.
Hairston hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning against All-Star Brian Wilson the previous night. That was his 12th longball all time against the Giants, his most against any team. With Wilson unavailable after pitching the past three days, Romo fanned Hairston on three straight sliders.
``He's a good hitter, especially against us,' Romo said. ``His track record against us speaks for itself. I wasn't worried about that I was worried about getting the job done. Today I was asked to get the last night and I was doing everything I could do. It just happened to take three pitches. Either way, Giants win.'
New York's only run came when Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy hit consecutive doubles with two outs in the first. That snapped a streak of 16 straight scoreless innings for the Mets against Lincecum.
The Mets lost for just the second time in seven games and failed in their second attempt to move a season-high four games over .500
NOTES: San Francisco LHP Jonathan Sanchez (left biceps tendinitis) threw a bullpen session before the game and will likely face hitters on the day off in San Diego next Wednesday before making a rehab start. ... Mets 3B David Wright (back) could start playing rehab games next week and would likely need 30 to 40 ABs in the minors before being ready to be activated.
The Associated Press News Service
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