Rich Aurilia's two-out, RBI single in the 11th inning lifted the San Francisco Giants a 1-0 victory over the NL West-leading Dodgers on Sunday, trimming their lead over Arizona to 2 1/2 games.
Loney was hitless in five at-bats, but could easily have had three hits and several RBIs against the San Francisco Giants had it not been for a trio of outstanding catches on balls he hit—by shortstop Ivan Ochoa, right fielder Nate Schierholtz and left fielder Randy Winn.
"Three, huh? Three too many," Loney muttered with a smile. "Dumb hitting."
Aaron Rowand started the winning rally off Takashi Saito (4-4) with a one-out single. Pinch hitter Pablo Sandoval grounded into a force play before pitcher Brad Hennessey, running for Sandoval, stole second. Eugenio Velez got an infield hit on a slow roller to short, barely beating the throw to first, before Aurilia lined a 2-2 pitch into left field.
"That extended the inning and gave Aurilia the chance to get a hit," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of the hit by Velez. Torre protested the safe call of first base umpire Bob Davidson, to no avail.
Hennessey's steal came without a throw.
"I was right behind him, pretty close," first baseman Loney said. "He didn't really get a big lead, but he got a huge jump.
The loss was just the fifth in 21 games for the Dodgers, who have a magic number of five to win the NL West championship. Any combination of five Los Angeles wins or losses by the Diamondbacks will give the Dodgers their first division title since 2004.
"We'll bounce back," Torre said. "We're used to doing that all year. This was a tough loss. We have a day off tomorrow to rest up for Tuesday."
Sergio Romo (3-1) pitched three perfect innings to earn the victory, giving him 15 consecutive scoreless innings over his last 11 appearances. Brian Wilson worked a 1-2-3 11th for his 40th save in 45 chances. The Giants retired the last 16 Los Angeles batters in order after Blake DeWitt's two-out single in the sixth.
"We had some opportunities," said Manny Ramirez, who walked in his first three appearances before striking out in his last two. "You've got to give credit to the other side. They pitched great, they deserved to win."
Both starters pitched shutout ball, but weren't involved in the decision.
San Francisco's Matt Cain left after throwing 108 pitches, having allowed five hits in six innings with four walks and four strikeouts. He hasn't won since Aug. 15, going 0-4 with three no-decisions.
"Holy Cow. I think everybody got a Gold Glove today, didn't they?" Cain said.
Derek Lowe was lifted for a pinch hitter after throwing 120 pitches, having given up five hits in seven innings with three walks—all intentional, and seven strikeouts. He has allowed 42 hits and nine runs in 61 innings in his last nine starts. He's 5-1 with two no-decisions during that time.
Martin and Ethier singled and Ramirez walked to start the Los Angeles first, but Cain pitched out of trouble by retiring Loney on a broken-bat liner thanks to Ochoa's leaping catch and striking out Casey Blake and Matt Kemp.
The Giants loaded the bases with two outs in the second before Lowe fanned Cain on three pitches.
Both pitchers settled down after their shaky starts. Lowe set down eight straight batters at one stage, and Cain retired 12 of 13.
Ramirez walked with two outs in the third before Schierholtz robbed Loney of a potential RBI double by making a diving catch of his liner near the right field line.
Angel Berroa got an infield hit to open the Los Angeles fifth, and took second on Lowe's sacrifice. After Martin drew a walk, Ethier singled to center, but Rowand's perfect throw nailed Berroa at the plate.
With the grass here, the ball gets to you a little bit quicker here than at our place, which is a grass-killer and makes it more difficult to throw guys out at home because the runner gets those extra steps," Rowand said. "But here, I knew I was going to have a chance to throw him out. I got a good throw off.
Ramirez was then intentionally walked to load the bases before Winn made a sliding catch of Loney's liner to end the inning.
Schierholtz made another diving catch to end the sixth, spearing a liner by Berroa after the single by DeWitt.
"I was able to come up with a couple of balls that helped Cain out," Schierholtz said. "On Loney's ball, I got a good break on it. It had a little topspin on it, and I knew that was going to be as far as I could reach, so I dove for it and came up with it. There were two outs and a runner on, so if I don't come up with it, they definitely score a run."