Dickey forces Giants to settle for split

AT&T PARK – There are a number of ways that the Giants would have liked to have closed out their two-game series against the visiting Blue Jays before they hit the road for nine games.

Getting shut out in Wednesday’s matinee by notorious knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was probably not one of them.

It was a pitcher’s duel through five innings, but Dickey was the victor as a costly fifth inning put Barry Zito and the Giants in a 4-0 hole that they couldn’t dig out of.

Manager Bruce Bochy was very aware that the Blue Jays’ big inning was detrimental to his ball club’s performance:

Giants manager Bruce Bochy

 Video: CSN Bay Area

“We made a couple mistakes today that let the game get away from us. … We’re a team that needs to keep the game close, and stay out of the big inning.”

Zito went into Wednesday’s game with a 4-0 home record and 1.40 ERA (seven earned runs in 45.0 innings pitched). He displayed strong command of the strike zone through four innings, only giving up three hits.

But his impeccable record was tarnished as both he and the Giants defense unraveled to give up four in the fifth:

Giants pitcher Barry Zito

Video: CSN Bay Area

“I think the fifth inning for me was the achilles heel today. Being unable to minimize the damage with two outs giving up a couple of hits to (Jose) Bautista and (Mark DeRosa), that one hurt for me.”

Dickey, the reigning NL Cy Young winner, kept the Giants guessing with his knuckler through 8-1/3 innings, allowing just two hits and two walks with five strikeouts:

Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“It was good because it was short and late, it didn’t have the big swings and movement that it sometimes can have but it was nice and late, right at the plate so guys were just hitting pieces of it. But it’s a good ballclub and anytime you can beat the World Champions it’s a good day.”

When asked if he was happy the team wouldn’t have to face another knuckleball pitcher on the up-coming road trip, Bochy didn’t hesitate before answering:

“Yeah! I hope we don’t see another one. We certainly have a tough time with it. … It’s a pitch you don’t see a lot, and for hitters it throws their timing off. And actually I’m glad we’re off tomorrow so we can kind of wash this off and not even think about that knuckleball, because there are times where it probably can throw a hitter into a slump.”

Dickey contributed offensively too, bringing in the Blue Jays first run of the game. With one out in the fifth inning, Dickey smacked the ball down the left field line past Sandoval and into the outfield corner for a double.

The hit brought home Henry Blanco to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. Jose Bautista followed that up with a two-out RBI single to put the opposition on the board 2-0.

After Edwin Encarnacion reached first on a walk that advanced Bautista to second, the pair pulled off a two-out double steal during the next at bat. Buster Posey’s throw to Sandoval at third appeared to beat the speedy Bautista, but the tag was late, costing the Giants the third out.

Bochy said the steal was a game-definer:

“The double steal — Buster made a great throw there. It beat the runner, we just didn’t get the tag on the runner. The correct call was made. You’re out of that game at that point. … And it’s a different ball game, four runs or two runs.”

Former Giant Mark DeRosa hit the ball up the middle for an RBI single that made the score 4-0 before the inning was over.

Sandoval had the Giants first hit of the game with a two out single in the fourth inning. However, it would not produce any runs and be San Francisco’s only hit until the ninth inning.

It took a one out single by Gregor Blanco and a subsequent walk by Marco Scutaro in the ninth inning to take Dickey out of the game. But reliever Casey Janssen didn’t pitch in relief for long as Sandoval grounded into a double play.

The Giants head out on a nine-game roadie, kicking off Friday in Arizona. They send Matt Cain to the mound to face Trevor Cahill and the NL West-leading Diamondbacks. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m.

Notes

The Giants are now 2-6 in Interleague play for the season, losing 11 of their last 18 contests. … Wednesday marked Zito’s first home loss since August 2, 2012 against the New York Mets. …  The last time a Giants pitcher went six-or-more innings without recording a strikeout was Zito on May 12, 2007 at Colorado. … Dickey drove in his first RBI of the season and hit his third career double.