Dodgers 4, Giants 1

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—The Giants have faced some formidable starting pitching so far in a division full of it: Jake Peavy, Brad Penny, Derek Lowe.

Still, manager Bruce Bochy knows his players better start hitting soon—and in key situations.

Jeff Kent hit a go-ahead two-run double in the fifth, Lowe bounced back from a bad outing on opening day and the Los Angeles Dodgers extended their winning streak in San Francisco to seven games with a 4-1 victory Saturday.

Lowe followed Penny’s impressive performance a night earlier with another standout showing by a Dodgers starter, silencing the San Francisco bats again.

“We did a good job of changing speeds, and I probably pitched like I need to,” Lowe said. “The defense was great. We turned a couple of key double plays.”

Lowe (1-1) looked much better than he did Monday at Milwaukee, where he lasted only four innings and was tagged for six runs and eight hits with four strikeouts and five walks. This time, Lowe worked ahead in the count and was efficient in seven strong innings. He allowed four hits and one run. Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless eighth and Takashi Saito worked the ninth for his third save in as many games.

Wilson Valdez had three hits and Nomar Garciaparra added a sacrifice fly for the Dodgers, who haven’t lost in the Giants’ waterfront ballpark since Aug. 18.

San Francisco fell to 1-4 with one game remaining on its season-opening homestand and will look to avoid a three-game sweep by its archrivals Sunday.

“The important thing now is we have to put some runs on the board and start clicking offensively,” Bochy said. “This is two games in a row we’ve gotten one run. … This is a start, that’s what it is. It’s not the start we wanted, but there’s so much baseball left and we’ll get going here offensively.”

Giants starter Russ Ortiz (0-1) lost his 12th straight decision and failed to earn his first win since Aug. 29, 2005, at San Diego while he was with Arizona. The right-hander, trying to make a comeback this year with his former club, owns the longest active skid in the majors.

Rich Aurilia doubled in a run for the Giants on a day slugger Barry Bonds, shortstop Omar Vizquel and catcher Bengie Molina got to rest. The lineup gave fans a glimpse from the past: Aurilia at shortstop and Ortiz on the mound.

Both players were part of San Francisco’s World Series team in 2002 that fell six outs short of a title in Game 6 against the wild-card Angels then lost in the decisive seventh game.

Todd Linden, starting in left in place of Bonds and scheduled to start in center Sunday for Dave Roberts, had a hit and made a couple of nice catches. He hopes to give the Giants a spark and help keep his teammates from becoming discouraged by the slow start.

“The biggest thing to remember is at the end of the year it always comes down to the wire,” Linden said. “These games could be made up right here. Who cares if you’re 1-4 if you can win eight in a row? The more important thing is you don’t fall into a rut, get it turned around and win a few in a row.”

The Dodgers loaded the bases in the fourth when Ortiz walked Andre Ethier following consecutive two-out singles to Luis Gonzalez and Mike Lieberthal. Wilson Betemit then walked to force in the Dodgers’ first run of the game and tie it at 1. Lowe struck out swinging to end the inning and Ortiz put his glove over his mouth as he walked to the dugout.

San Francisco’s offense did little to help Ortiz. The Giants managed only five hits a day after getting 12 hits in a 2-1 loss.

“I’ve been wanting to throw for quite a while now,” Ortiz said. “I was anxious to get back here. It was a good feeling to be out there. … Yesterday we put up 12 hits, so it’s there. As far as it being timely hits, that’s a big key.”

Ortiz was winless in 26 outings, including 11 starts, overall in 2006 for the Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles, who dropped him out of their rotation in July.

The 32-year-old Ortiz went 5-11 in his first season with the Diamondbacks two years ago before everything fell apart last season with an 0-8 campaign, a release from Arizona and recommendations that he should call it quits.

The Giants took a shot on Ortiz, who pitched in the Puerto Rican Winter League this offseason to better himself and regain some confidence. The Giants are convinced he can give them the kind of production he did as a front-line starter during his first stint from 1998-02.

Notes

Kent’s fifth-inning double gave him 1,385 career RBIs, moving him past Dwight Evans (1,384) for 65th on the career list. “I’m not a vengeful person, but it does give me satisfaction to do well here,” the former Giant said. “When the fans boo me, I understand it’s their job to do. When I go outside, they all want to hug me.” … Dodgers RHP Brett Tomko, a former Giant, celebrated his 34th birthday. … The Giants sold out for the third time in opening week. … Lieberthal made his first start as a Dodger.

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