SAN FRANCISCO -- Try dethroning the defending champions by blowing three-run leads against Tim Lincecum.
The Dodgers are.
For all of their early success this year against the Giants, the Dodgers suffered a relapse of 2010 Tuesday night. Even a game-tying Marcus Thames pinch-homer in the seventh inning was wasted with the first bullpen loss of the season, Blake Hawksworth allowing the winning run in the bottom of the inning on a triple to Aaron Rowand and a very wild pitch.
And just to add insult to all of the injuries the Dodgers have suffered (seven DL placements already), Lincecum smoked struggling former teammate Juan Uribe in the same left arm, and in the same sixth inning, as he drilled him in the season opener. Granted, with a one-run lead and two runners on already, it wouldn't make sense to do it intentionally.
But Uribe, presented a World Series ring the night before, was not a happy former Giant as he stood at home plate, glaring at Lincecum and complaining to plate umpire Sam Holbrook that twice in two series is no accident. Afterward, though, a calmer Uribe dismissed the latest drilling as "he's pitching inside, just baseball."
OK, but Uribe was hit by pitches only four times all last year and has already been hit three times in just nine games this year. Opposing strategies must be working, because he's batting only .147 without a home run.
Lincecum pleaded innocence.
"I throw a lot of balls up there anyway, whether he's a lefty or a righty," he said. "I mean, I buzzed [Matt] Kemp's tower tonight. The ball just seems to find him. Never intentionally. Obviously in a situation like that, it'd be stupid. I was just trying to throw a pitch in and I didn't finish it and it held up."
The Dodgers, of course, can't afford to lose another infielder. Shortstop Rafael Furcal is out at least a month because of a broken thumb and Casey Blake is still sidelined with a bruised thigh. Furcal's is a double loss because he's supposedly the offensive catalyst. Tony Gwynn, the new leadoff hitter, went 0-for-5.
Yet, there was enough offense for a three-run fourth inning, with doubles by Uribe and Kemp and singles by Jamey Carroll and Andre Ethier.
But the Giants got a pair of runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings take a 4-3 lead off Billingsley, who needed a combined 60 pitches to get through those two innings. Buster Posey had key hits in both innings, and Pablo Sandoval, on a slider at his ankles, somehow doubled inside first base and into the right-field corner.
"You get a lead like that, you want a shutdown inning," said manager Don Mattingly. "He didn't make bad pitches. They hit good pitches."
"The ball found holes," said Billingsley, who has let leads get away in each of his three starts. "I felt I executed but it didn't turn out the way I wanted to."
"They put pretty good at-bats on some pretty good pitches," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. "Obviously, you want to get out of it without giving up any runs. They bested him. He had a great game plan, executed through three innings, then it kind of snowballed there a little bit."
Still, Thames tied it, launching his first Dodgers home run pinch-hitting for reliever Kenley Jansen leading off the seventh inning against left-hander Jeremy Affeldt. But Rowand led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple off Hawksworth, who wild-pitched Rowand home for the go-ahead run.
New shortstop Jamey Carroll, taking over for Furcal, triggered the three-run fourth inning with a single, taking third on Ethier's single to center and scoring when Kemp doubled into the right-field corner.
The Giants then helped the Dodgers' cause as rookie first baseman Brandon Belt fumbled James Loney's tapper when he appeared to take his eye off the ball to see if Ethier was coming home, which he was. Uribe doubled into the right-field corner to score Ethier.
San Francisco got back in the game with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, making Billingsley throw 31 pitches. The Giants scored on a one-out double by Freddy Sanchez, a two-out single by Posey and an RBI double by Sandoval on what appeared to be an impossible pitch to hit, a slider at his ankles pulled just inside first base and into the corner.
The Giants turned the game around in the fifth against Billingsley. Belt singled, went to second on Lincecum's sacrifice bunt and was singled home by Rowand. Sanchez was called out on a high strike three, then Aubrey Huff battled back from 0-2 for a 10-pitch walk. Posey then singled on a pitch on his hands to score Rowand.
Lincecum was removed after loading the bases with one out in the sixth inning, his 115th and last pitch a 95-mph fastball that hit Uribe in the shoulder. But former Dodger Guillermo Mota struck out Rod Barajas and popped up Aaron Miles to preserve the lead.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.