SAN FRANCISCO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers came into AT&T Park on Friday night displaying one big-money acquisition after another. Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez hit in the heart of their lineup, Josh Beckett took the mound.
All were acquired in the past two months. All took a back seat to Marco Scutaro, acquired by the Giants in a move that's been a difference-maker in the National League West.
Scutaro's two-run, broken-bat single was the decisive hit in a 5-2 Giants victory that stretched the club's National League West lead to 51/2 games, their largest cushion since the last day of the 2003 season.
"I didn't really make good contact," Scutaro said, "But sometimes it's better to be lucky than good."
Scutaro has thrown out plenty of good moments in his short time with the Giants. Since being acquired from Colorado on July 27 for minor leaguer Charlie Culberson, Scutaro is hitting .331 with 26 RBIs. He was an under-the-radar pickup for the Giants, but it turns out Scutaro might be the perfect fit for a final month of matchups between the rival Giants and Dodgers.
Having played two seasons for the Boston Red Sox, Scutaro knows a thing or two about heated rivalries.
"This kind of compares to Boston and New York," he said. "Every play matters. Every ground ball and every pitch matter."
Tim Lincecum pitched that way Friday, bending but not often breaking on a night when he struck out seven but also walked
"Mechanically, I felt like I was there only about 70 percent of the time," he said.
With his fastball command disappearing at times, Lincecum relied heavily on his slider. He gave up a run in the third inning and ran into trouble again in the fifth, when Shane Victorino reached third base. But Lincecum struck out Matt Kemp looking to end the threat.
He kept rolling in the sixth, striking out Ramirez and Andre Ethier. But with two outs and a 0-2 count, Lincecum hung a curveball to Adam Kennedy that was hit into the right-field arcade to put the Dodgers ahead 2-1.
Still, Lincecum was able to walk off the mound in the seventh with the Giants locked in a tie game.
The Giants scored in the third inning, in part because of Lincecum's ability to get a bunt down and advance Brandon Crawford, who had singled. Angel Pagan's two-out single brought Crawford home.
Pagan singled in the sixth and scored the tying run when third baseman Kennedy couldn't come up with Hunter Pence's two-out chopper.
The teams entered the bottom of the seventh inning tied at 2-all, but the Giants quickly got to work. Hector Sanchez singled and Crawford walked, and a sacrifice advanced the runners. After Pagan was intentionally walked, Scutaro dumped a single into right field, scoring two.
"He's such a smart player," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It really was a pretty good pitch, and he went the other way with it. We needed somebody to come through, and he's been doing that since he came over."
After a brief session before batting practice, Belt deemed himself ready to. He easily handled his only chance Friday night.
"I feel comfortable out there," he said. "I'm not going to go climb any walls and rob home runs, but I think I can do a good enough job to help us win."
Lately, it has been Belt's bat that has helped lead to a few Giants victories. Belt entered Friday's game with a .371 average since Aug. 1, the highest in the majors. In his second season, Belt has had trouble with consistency; he followed a strong June with an ugly July stretch that nearly cost him his job. But he's been able to build off a strong August.
"In June, I honestly didn't know what I was doing right," Belt said. "I was doing something good and I wasn't sure what it was. I was just riding the wave as long as I could.
"When it was done, I wasn't sure how to get back to it."
Belt said the added time in the big leagues has helped him figure out how to have a more consistent approach.
"He's really coming on with the bat," Bochy said. "You have to love the way he is playing."
L.A. Dodgers (Chris Capuano 11-10) at Giants (Matt Cain 13-5), 1:05 p.m. FOX
A.L. WEST RACE
W L Pct. GB
Giants 78 60 .565 --
Dodgers 73 66 .525 5½
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