SAN FRANCISCO -- Andres Torres' two-run home run in the second inning provided all the runs Tim Lincecum and two relievers would need as the San Francisco Giants beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game interleague series at AT&T Park.
Losers of two games in Toronto last month by scores of 10-6 and 11-3, the Giants got the type of clutch hitting and dominating pitching that led them to a World Series championship last season.
Torres, who entered the game with five extra-base hits in eight career at-bats against Blue Jays starter Josh Johnson (0-2), made the visitors pay for two defensive lapses in the second inning with his difference-making homer, his second of the season.
With the Giants down 1-0 after an Edwin Encarnacion home run in the first inning, Hunter Pence led off the San Francisco second with a grounder to third base. Encarnacion threw high to first, pulling Adam Lind off the base, allowing Pence to reach safely.
Johnson, making his first start since April 22 after a long stint on the disabled list while dealing with right triceps inflammation, appeared to get Encarnacion off the hook by getting the next Giant, Brandon Belt, to ground a tailor-made double-play ball right to Emilio Bonifacio. However, the second baseman bobbled the ball and only was able to get Belt at first, allowing Pence to advance to second.
Torres then hit his homer to center field, giving the Giants a lead they never relinquished en route to their second consecutive win.
Lincecum, who had given up at least four runs in each of his previous three starts, appeared headed down another rocky road when the Encarnacion bombed a home run to straightaway center field, his 17th, with two outs in the first.
However, Lincecum (4-5) struck out the next batter he faced, Adam Lind, and went on to fan six in seven innings of three-hit ball.
The closest the Blue Jays came to scoring on him after the first, other than consecutive warning-track flyballs by Jose Bautista and Encarnacion in the third inning, came after Lincecum issued his only walk of the night to pitching rival Johnson in the sixth.
Melky Cabrera followed with his second single of the game, pushing the potential tying run into scoring position, before third baseman Pablo Sandoval snared a shot off the bat of Bautista and turned it into a double play at second base thanks to a nifty catch-and-tag by Marco Scutaro.
In snapping a personal three-game losing streak, Lincecum notched just the Giants' fifth quality start in the team's last 20 games. San Francisco is 17-6 this season when its starter records a quality start.
Jeremy Affeldt, benefitting from a double-play grounder, relieved Lincecum and pitched a scoreless eighth. Closer Sergio Romo handled the ninth, surviving a leadoff single by Maicer Izturis to record his 16th save, getting Encarnacion on a soft grounder to Scutaro at second base to end it with the potential tying run on base.
The win might have been a costly one for the Giants. Sandoval, who missed the entire three-game series in St. Louis last weekend with a strained left foot, appeared to re-injure the foot grounding out in the sixth inning. He was replaced in the field one inning later by Joaquin Arias.
The Blue Jays' Johnson pitched well enough to win, allowing only two runs (one earned) on six hits over seven innings. He struck out six and didn't walk a batter.
The first pitch of the game was one of the most highly anticipated of the Giants' season. It marked the San Francisco return of Cabrera, who was leading the National League in batting for the Giants when he was suspended 50 games for a positive steroids test last Aug. 15.
Cabrera never returned to the Giants, even though his suspension ended after the club's first-round playoff series against the Cincinnati Reds. He became a free agent in the offseason and signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Blue Jays.
The switch hitter came to the plate to mostly boos in his first AT&T appearance since the August dismissal. He proceeded to smack Lincecum's fifth pitch into center field for a single.
Coincidentally, Cabrera found himself answering more questions about performance-enhancing drugs before Tuesday's homecoming. His name surfaced in ESPN's report about possible upcoming suspensions in the wake of recent findings at the Biogenisis clinic in Miami.
Asked by USA Today's Spanish-speaking reporter before the game if he feared another suspension, Cabrera responded, "If they suspend me again, I think that would be a harsh punishment because I already served my sentence."
NOTES: The Blue Jays got good news before the game when an MRI on the right elbow of Sunday's starter, RHP Ramon Ortiz, showed nothing more than a strain. What was feared to be a career-threatening injury only landed the veteran on the 15-day disabled list. ... The Blue Jays activated more than just Johnson from the DL. They reinstated OF Rajai Davis, sending RHP Mickey Storey back to Triple-A Buffalo. ... Giants CF Angel Pagan wasn't in the starting lineup for a ninth consecutive game because a strained left hamstring. ... San Francisco has only nine home games in the month of June. ... The Giants reaped the rewards of a home-friendly May schedule in the initial tabulation of fan votes for the All-Star Game. C Buster Posey was the leading vote-getter among all National League players. Sandoval also led at his position (third base), and three Giants (first baseman Belt, Scutaro and SS Brandon Crawford) were second at their respective positions.