Sanchez saves Giants with 12th-inning heroics

AT&T PARK — Hector Sanchez didn’t start Tuesday’s game. But he finished it.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

After nearly five hours of baseball, the Giants’ backup catcher hit a walkoff single up the middle early Wednesday morning to score Brandon Crawford and lift the Giants to a 3-2 series-opening win against the Dodgers.

Tim Lincecum is historically good against the Dodgers and he was again Tuesday night. But like Cain last Saturday, couldn’t get any run support from his comrades.

Lincecum, who entered the game with a career 2.92 ERA in 23 games versus the Dodgers, saw his night end after just five innings and 93 pitches.

Juan Uribe delivered his only blemish, a solo home run in the second inning. After the game, Manager Bruce Bochy credited the late-night victory to the success of the pitching staff:

“That’s how you win games like that. Your pitching holds them there and gives you a chance.”

As good as Lincecum was, Josh Beckett was better.

Beckett also went five innings on 90 pitches, but held the Giants scoreless. Beckett had a nasty curveball all night, changing speeds from low 70s offspeed pitches to low 90s fastballs.

The Giants had their chances to break through but squandered most of their opportunities.

Michael Morse got caught gawking a 3-2 strike in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and only one out before Crawford grounded out to end the inning.

The Giants had the bases loaded again in the fifth inning with Buster Posey at the plate, but Posey flied out to center field to end the threat.

The Giants put together another rally in the eighth inning with Pence getting a single and stealing second before Gregor Blanco walked — all with no outs.

But they shot themselves in the foot again when Brandon Crawford struck out swinging and Brandon Hicks grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Giants squandered more opportunities in extra innings. In the 10th, the Giants loaded the bases with one out. Pagan popped out in the infield and Belt ended the rally with a lazy fly ball to left field.

Bochy said if his club continue to play like this, they’ll be in a lot of close games:

“The early go looks like we’re going to be playing a lot of tight games, a lot of one-run games, two-run games. You have to execute and hopefully come through … I’ll tell you, we had our chances, but their pitching did a good job on us.”

Brandon Belt had a big night going 3-for-5, including a game-tying double in the ninth inning that drove in Angel Pagan against elite closer Kenley Jansen. It was Jansen’s second blown save of the season.

Uribe had both runs in the game for the Dodgers. He went 3-for-5 overall with a home run and a double.

Pablo Sandoval had an 0-for-5 game to drop his average down to .164 to start the season. Sandoval is on a contract year and Manager Bruce Bochy has said that Sandoval assures him it’s not a distraction.

The Giants will look to spark some offense in Game 2 of the series on Wednesday. Ryan Vogelsong (0-0, 8.00 ERA) will go against lefty Paul Maholm (0-1, 8.10 ERA). First pitch is 7:15 p.m.

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