LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tim Lincecum walked seven, matching a career worst, yet still managed to get the win when Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence homered to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night in the rubber game of their season-opening series.
Lincecum (1-0) threw 91 pitches in five innings, but limited the Dodgers to two unearned runs and three hits. He struck out four while outperforming Josh Beckett in a matchup of marquee pitchers coming off the worst season of their respective careers.
Beckett (0-1) was charged with five runs, three earned, and six hits in six innings. Carl Crawford had three hits and scored a run for Los Angeles.
Lincecum won Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009 and led the NL in strikeouts for three consecutive years. But the right-hander was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA last season, then was relegated to bullpen duty in the playoffs — allowing an earned run and three hits in 13 innings with 17 strikeouts.
Lincecum, embarking on the final year of a two-year, $40.5 million contract, was the Giants' opening day pitcher in each of the previous four seasons. The 28-year-old right-hander missed two starts in spring training because of a blister problem and was slotted behind Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner in the rotation.
Beckett was the World Series MVP with Florida in 2003 and the ALCS MVP with Boston in 2007 — his only 20-win season. But the 32-year-old right-hander was 7-14 with a 4.65 ERA in a combined 28 starts last season with the Red Sox and Dodgers after he was acquired in a blockbuster nine-player trade on Aug. 25.
Pence gave the defending World Series champions a 5-2 cushion in the sixth with a line-drive solo homer to right-center.
Jose Mijares relieved Lincecum in the sixth and threw 11 pitches without recording an out. He loaded the bases by hitting Skip Schumaker with a 1-2 pitch that caromed off his shoulder and over the home plate screen.
Matt Kemp, who was 0 for 2 in bases-loaded situations and hitless in four at-bats, grounded into a double play against George Kontos as Mark Ellis scored. Javier Lopez then came in and struck out Adrian Gonzalez.
Sergio Romo, the sixth Giants pitcher, worked a perfect ninth for his second save.
San Francisco scored four times in the third to grab a 4-1 lead. Lincecum drove in Gregor Blanco with a groundout and Brandon Crawford scored when second baseman Schumaker booted Angel Pagan's grounder in the hole for an error.
Sandoval then jumped on an eye-level 1-2 fastball one out later and lined it over the right-field fence, showing no signs of the bone spur or the nerve irritation in his right elbow that sidelined the burly third baseman for part of spring training.
Los Angeles got an unearned run in the first when Crawford led off with a single and scored on a one-out passed ball by Hector Sanchez.
All-Star catcher and reigning NL MVP Buster Posey started at first base for San Francisco, with Brandon Belt missing his second straight game because of stomach flu. His error on a grounder by Gonzalez in the fifth inning led to a sacrifice fly by Luis Cruz.
NOTES: Lincecum also walked seven over 6 1-3 innings in a no-decision against the Dodgers on Sept. 7. ... Sanchez caught 16 of Lincecum's 33 starts last year, his first full season in the majors. ... The Dodgers haven't scored an earned run through the first five innings in any of the first three games. ... Barry Zito will start against St. Louis' Jake Westbrook on Friday night in the Giants' home opener, when they raise their second world championship banner in three years. ... Beckett is 5-5 with three no-decisions in his first start of a season. ... The Giants will receive their World Series rings on Sunday.