LOS ANGELES (AP) — Josh Beckett walked three of his first seven batters, equaling his total in 19 2-3 innings over his previous three starts combined. Then he straightened himself out and worked into the seventh for the third straight start.
But the three-time All-Star is still looking for his first victory of the season because San Francisco’s Brandon Hicks straightened out one of Beckett’s pitches to tie the score, and the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t generate enough offense against Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants’ league-leading bullpen in a 3-1 loss Thursday night.
The defending NL West champions opened the scoring in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Drew Butera. But Hicks homered to left field in the seventh to end a 4-for-30 skid, after striking out his first two times up. It was his sixth home run this season, doubling the total he had in 90 at-bats over the previous three years with Atlanta and Oakland.
“It’s one of those things. I hung a curve ball to Hicks. If I had made my pitch, the outcome’s different,” Beckett said. “The guys played great defense behind me, but we just couldn’t come up with that timely hit.”
Beckett continued to pitch well despite little run support. The right-hander went 6 2-3 innings, allowing a run and five hits.
It was the fifth straight start in which the Dodgers scored fewer than three runs while Beckett was in the game, leaving him with a loss and four no-decisions. He is 0-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 14 starts since his last victory on Sept. 30, 2012, when he beat Colorado 7-1 at Dodger Stadium.
“Josh was good again, and that’s encouraging for us,” manager Don Mattingly said. “The guy continues to do his thing – changing speeds, using his breaking ball and using his fastball to keep you honest. He was able to keep a good-hitting club at bay. It’s just disappointing we can’t get him a win, because he’s pitched well pretty much every time out.”
Beckett gave up a leadoff double in the fifth by Vogelsong, but came back to retire Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence and Buster Posey on groundouts.
“I had to battle through the first few innings because the feel for my curveball wasn’t there,” he said. “But the good thing was that I didn’t abandon it. I kept throwing it and finally got a feel for it. If I gave up on that, I think some crooked numbers could have been put up there.”
J.P. Howell (1-3) issued a one-out walk in the 11th to Pagan, who advanced on a wild pitch by Jamey Wright before the right-hander walked Pence and Posey. Pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez, who came in 1 for 10 as a pinch hitter with seven strikeouts, flied out to the warning track in right field to drive in Pagan.
“I had to be ready for that pitch in that situation,” Sanchez said. “If he throws something close, I have to hit it.”
Brandon Belt followed with a single to make it 3-1. Santiago Casilla (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win, striking out Yasiel Puig with a runner at second to end the eighth before throwing a perfect ninth. Sergio Romo got three outs for his 11th save in as many chances.
Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe left the game because of soreness in his right hamstring. He grounded into an inning-ending double play in the seventh and played one more inning in the field.
Vogelsong yielded one run and five hits through 7 1-3 in his seventh start and third against the Dodgers. The other two were San Francisco victories in which he did not get the decision. The Giants are 5-0 in Vogelsong’s last five starts against the Dodgers, and he’s had a no-decision in all of them.
NOTES: In the previous three-game series between the teams in mid-April at San Francisco, the Giants and Dodgers combined for just 11 runs while the Giants took two of three. … Giants manager Bruce Bochy said RHP Matt Cain should be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday – the day he is eligible to come off – and start against Zack Greinke after missing two turns in the rotation. … Pablo Sandoval hasn’t driven home a run in 18 games and 61 at-bats since his RBI single against Howell on April 16 at San Francisco. Sandoval has two hits in his last 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position.