SAN FRANCISCO -- Uncharacteristic play by the D-backs on Friday night led to an unusual result -- a loss.
The D-backs' nine-game winning streak came to a halt as they had a key defensive lapse and walked six while falling, 6-2, to the Giants in front of a sellout crowd at AT&T Park.
It was the first of three games between the two top teams in the National League West. Arizona leads the division by five games with 24 left to play and will send ace Ian Kennedy to the mound Saturday against San Francisco's top pitcher, Tim Lincecum.
While not pleased with the way things turned out, the D-backs were quick to say they were not pushing the panic button.
"Nothing to worry about," catcher Miguel Montero said. "We start another streak tomorrow."
The D-backs jumped on Matt Cain for a run in the first inning thanks to an RBI double by Montero.
Arizona, though, had a chance to do more damage with runners at second and third and just one out and later in the frame with the bases loaded and two out. The D-backs could not capitalize, something that would prove costly later.
"We had a good opportunity to at least score two runs," Montero said.
D-backs starter Joe Saunders (9-12) was under the weather Friday with cold and flu symptoms, but the left-hander said it did not impact his performance on the mound.
What did hurt him were four walks and a missed location on a pitch to Carlos Beltran.
Overall the D-backs walked six, the most they've walked in a game since July 7, a span of 49 games.
"We've been talking about walks all year and we've been really good at not walking people, and tonight it ended up biting us," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
The first time it hurt them was in the third when Saunders issued a two-out walk to Cody Ross, who scored when Jeff Keppinger followed with a double. The Giants then went up 3-1 when Beltran smacked a two-run homer over the wall in left.
"A two-out walk turned into three runs in that inning," Gibson said.
Said Saunders, "To me, I made one mistake tonight and it cost us the game. I was just trying to get it in there on Beltran and just left it pretty much middle-middle and he put a good swing on it."
Truly, though, Beltran should not have even come to the plate in that inning had the D-backs executed a relay play properly.
Gerardo Parra fielded Keppinger's ball off the wall and overthrew the first cutoff man, shortstop John McDonald. Third baseman Ryan Roberts was slow to adjust to the throw and couldn't pick it cleanly. Had either not happened, it looked like Ross would have been out at the plate.
"We started off missing a cutoff and that was a big part of the game," Montero said.
After the D-backs cut the lead to 3-2 on an Aaron Hill sacrifice fly, the Giants came right back with a run in the bottom half of the inning.
Beltran drove that run home as well with a one-out single. Considering Beltran had tripled and homered to that point in the game and first base was open, Gibson was asked if he considered intentionally walking him.
"I'm not going to get into my strategy," Gibson said. "They beat us tonight and there's really nothing more you can say. Give them credit. We knew they had a lot of character. They outplayed us tonight. If you want to second-guess plays, that's fine. We didn't play good enough to beat them. We didn't pitch good enough to beat them. We had our opportunities, we had opportunities to cut them down and we weren't able to execute it. We've been pretty darn good. We won nine in a row, so it's one game. No problem."
San Francisco extended its lead in the seventh when reliever Sam Demel followed a leadoff walk to Cain by allowing a home run to Ross that put the Giants up 6-2.
It was quite an offensive outburst by the Giants, who scored six runs for the first time since Aug. 21 and just the fifth time in their last 44 games.
"That's the energy we needed to start off September," said Cain, who lasted eight innings to improve to 11-9. "The guys came in alive. We kind of had a different energy and a different feel about each other."