Tim Lincecum never liked facing Marco Scutaro. From a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, Scutaro considers that quite a compliment.
He sure is generating his share of them these days.
Scutaro hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the seventh inning that broke his bat, and the San Francisco Giants beat the rival Dodgers 5-2 on Friday night to extend their NL West lead to five games over Los Angeles.
"I didn’t really make good contact," he said. "Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good."
After Angel Pagan drew an intentional walk from Josh Beckett (1-2) to load the bases, Scutaro followed with a bloop single to shallow right. He came through yet again for his new team — and in a key series opener in early September this time.
"I pretty much know what my game is. I’m not a power hitter, I’m not an RBI guy," he said. "My game is to try to get on base. I stay with my plan. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t."
San Francisco (78-60) won its fourth consecutive against Los Angeles after a sweep at Dodger Stadium from Aug. 20-22. The Giants lead the division by five games for the first time since ending the 2003 season with a 15-game cushion. They have two more chances with a sellout home crowd this weekend to create further distance from the Dodgers.
Santiago Casilla (7-5) relieved Lincecum and recorded the final two outs of the seventh for the win.
The Giants answered after Adam Kennedy hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the sixth to make it 2-1.
Hunter Pence, another recent addition for the playoff push, tied it on an infield single down the third-base line in the bottom half. Kennedy tried to barehand the high bouncer, which got under his glove and allowed Pagan to score.
Hector Sanchez singled to start the seventh and Gregor Blanco entered to pinch-run, then stole second. Brandon Crawford walked and pinch-hitter Emmanuel Burriss sacrificed. Pagan was intentionally walked to load the bases for Scutaro, who delivered another clutch hit in a career full of them. It was his second one this homestand after a game-winning single in the 10th inning of Monday’s 9-8 win against Arizona.
Since Scutaro was acquired from the Colorado Rockies on July 27, he is batting .331 (53-for-160) with 26 RBI.
"We needed somebody to come through for us and he has done that since he came over here, and really his whole career," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Beckett, facing the Giants for the first time since 2005 while with the Marlins, outlasted Lincecum in the right-hander’s third start since being acquired from the Red Sox on Aug. 25.
He was in control until the seventh. Last time out, Beckett had matched his season high with nine strikeouts against Arizona, snapping a three-start skid and seven-start winless stretch in which he was 0-5.
The Dodgers failed to capitalize in the top of the seventh. Mark Ellis hit a leadoff single and Adrian Gonzalez walked one out later to chase Lincecum, who walked a career-high seven and missed a chance to win back-to-back starts for just the third time this year. Casilla entered and got Matt Kemp on a groundout to put runners on second and third before striking out Hanley Ramirez looking.
"Ultimately we want to win the division but sometimes it is necessary to look outside the bubble," Los Angeles left fielder Shane Victorino said. "The goal? It’s about getting there. The first is to win the division."
Lincecum walked a batter in each of his six-plus innings but got through with minimal damage.
He retired Kemp on a 90 mph called third strike to end the fifth with the go-ahead run on second. Lincecum then struck out Ramirez looking to start the sixth and got Andre Ethier swinging. Kennedy fell behind in the count 0-2 before hitting a drive into the elevated right-field arcade for his second home run of the year and first of his career in San Francisco.
Joaquin Arias added an RBI infield single in the eighth for San Francisco. Sergio Romo recorded the final four outs for his 10th save in 11 chances.
"Right now, we just want to win games any way we can," Lincecum said. "It’s not about who gets the decision or how it happens. We’re just pulling that string to win."
The Giants have the momentum of late since Los Angeles took all three at AT&T Park from July 27-29. But from June 25-27 in the Dodgers’ first trip, San Francisco swept without allowing a single run — 8-0, 2-0, 3-0.
The rivalry returns to Chavez Ravine for the season’s final three games from Oct. 1-3.
"We don’t want to go back to their house the final three games and cut it close," Scutaro said.
Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson showed up for the weekend "to watch some playoff baseball" in what should be a great atmosphere the rest of the weekend.
"This is probably the rowdiest place on the West Coast," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It’s a fun place and there’s a lot of energy here. I like this series a lot. This is a place you want to play."
San Francisco’s Brandon Belt played LF for the first time. … Lincecum is 3-8 in 15 home starts this year. … Kennedy’s clout — his first since July 6 at Arizona — also was his first in 23 career at-bats against Lincecum. … Victorino stole his 33rd base in the fifth, his ninth since joining the Dodgers from the Phillies at the trade deadline. … Giants OF Xavier Nady underwent an MRI exam on the left hamstring he injured going for a ball in the gap Wednesday night and manager Bruce Bochy said, "It’s hard to say how long" until he will return. … LHP Luis Capuano (11-10) pitches for the Dodgers in the middle game against RHP Matt Cain (13-5).