Lincecum loses grip on Puig, Dodgers
AT&T Park proves to be LA's triples ally in blowout
SAN FRANCISCO -- A handful of historic feats were achieved inside AT&T Park on Friday night, all of which were accomplished by the Dodgers, so it's understandable that Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't particularly keen when a reporter prompted him to talk about Yasiel Puig's three-triple performance after the game.
"I don't really want to; he had a good night. I'll say that," Bochy said with a smile. "We made some mistakes and good hitters take advantage of it."
The Dodgers have a lineup full of good hitters, and they pounced on poorly located Tim Lincecum pitches to hit five triples in their 8-1 victory against the Giants. The result cut the Giants' National West lead to a half-game.
The Dodgers' five triples set a new AT&T Park record, topping the Royals' three in June 2005. It also tied a franchise record. The last time the Dodgers hit five in one game? 1921.
The electric Puig began what proved to be a historic night (he became the first Dodger since Jimmy Sheckard in 1901 to hit three triples in a single game) with a triple in the game's second at-bat; he scored one batter later on an Adrian Gonzalez single. That run snapped a home scoreless streak of 27 1/3 innings for Lincecum. The right-hander rebounded to look like his recently dominant self -- until the fifth inning.
Zack Greinke drilled a bases-empty, one-out single up the middle. Four more consecutive hits later, Lincecum's day was done and so were the Giants' chances. Back-to-back triples by Dee Gordon (with two strikes) and Puig extended the lead to 3-0. An RBI single by Gonzalez scored Puig to make it a 4-0 game before Matt Kemp joined the triples parade with a two-run triple.
The unraveling came one inning after Hector Sanchez, Lincecum's personal catcher, was removed from the game after taking a foul ball to the mask. Sanchez stayed in the game after a lengthy discussion at home plate with Bochy and a training staff member. He struck out in the bottom of the third and was removed. Tests later discovered a mild concussion.
Lincecum has been one of the Majors' best starters for the last month, but was tagged for six earned runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, which raised his ERA from 3.65 to 3.96. His problem? A heavier-than-usual reliance on his fastball left him predictable, and his spotty command only added to the vulnerability.
"I got away from my plan; I didn't throw as many breaking balls as I wanted to," Lincecum said. "That's been an equalizer for me in keeping guys honest -- it makes that fastball look a little bit faster and I really wasn't doing that today, at least not in that inning.
"I could've been one pitch away from getting out of that inning. Obviously, Gordon is hard to double up, but you've got a chance if you get yourself a ground ball with the pitcher on first base. They put it together on me."
History was made with the Giants at the plate, too. In the third, Greinke became the first pitcher this season to record four strikeouts in one inning -- Hunter Pence reached base after swinging and missing on a two-strike wild pitch, which created the chance four the rare four-strikeout inning. The Giants mustered just four hits and struck out 10 times in seven innings against Greinke.
Second baseman Dan Uggla went 0-for-2 in a nondescript debut; San Francisco's lone run came on a Tyler Colvin single in the ninth.
"He's out there throwing 94 mph with a breaking ball, a changeup and he hits his spots -- it's why his numbers are what they are," Bochy said of Greinke. "You're going to have to battle to get some runs on the board. You're just hoping your guy was on."
A strong performance from his starter, Ryan Vogelsong, may be Bochy's best hope on Saturday night, too: Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound for the Dodgers with the NL West lead on the line.