LOS ANGELES -- The rain eventually went away. Tim Lincecum surprisingly came back.
Lincecum made his season debut in relief, pitching on both sides of a 1-hour, 14-minute rain delay and scoring the go-ahead run on Randy Winn's sacrifice fly to help the San Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 on Wednesday night and avoid their first 0-3 start since 1984.
"I've sat for a certain amount of time, but never an hour and 15 minutes. That was a first for me, but I feel fine," said Lincecum, who helped build the go-ahead run with a one-out single in the sixth.
"People have called me a freak of nature before, so now they've got another reason to call me that. My body feels good, my arm feels good. As soon as we got the 20-minute call for when the game was going to start again, I got back out to the bullpen and started to get warmed up."
The Dodgers announced less than 20 minutes before game time that Hong-Chih Kuo would start on the mound in place of Chad Billingsley due to the threat of inclement weather. The Giants followed suit, starting Merkin Valdez and keeping Lincecum waiting in the wings.
"I think it threw us off a little bit because we thought he was going to start, but that's not an excuse," Dodgers outfielder Andruw Jones said. "Both guys that came in from their bullpen and pitched pretty good. And then when (Lincecum) came in, he just started to blow people by with fastballs and his off-speed pitch."
Lincecum (1-0) threw 84 pitches over four innings, allowing a run and four hits with four walks and four strikeouts. The right-hander got his biggest out when Russell Martin took a called third strike with the bases loaded to end the seventh.
"I was just throwing a slider right there on 2-2. I really wasn't trying to spot anything up. I was hoping to get him to chase. But it worked out for the better."
The relief outing was the first in the majors for Lincecum, who made 24 starts last season as a rookie.
"It was a little different, of course, but at the same time I've got to listen to what they say," Lincecum said. "Whether it's out of the bullpen or starting, I've got to approach it the same way."
Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt approached manager Joe Torre about the plan they eventually used with Billingsley. Then Torre went over to Giants skipper Bruce Bochy to give him a heads-up on what they were doing and why.
Billingsley, the third Dodgers pitcher, faced four batters in one-third of an inning and was charged with a run, yielding to Esteban Loaiza (0-1) after the rain delay.
"We were told about 30 or 40 minutes before gametime that the weather was coming in by 7:40 or 8 o'clock," Torre said. "It's all guesswork. But if you look at it, our pitchers gave up two runs in nine innings. I mean, you can't ask for anything more than that."
A light but steady shower began in the top of the third and continued until the umpires called for the tarpaulin with one out in the San Francisco fifth. The delay began two pitches after the Giants scored their first run.
"I thought I was finished with that rain stuff in New York," said Torre, managing his first season in Los Angeles after 12 years with the Yankees.
The Dodgers opened the scoring in the fourth with James Loney's two-out RBI single against Lincecum.
Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa began serving the three-game suspension he received from Major League Baseball following his heated exchange on Tuesday night with umpire Ed Montague, who ordered Bowa to stay within the boundaries of the coaching box and then ejected him after he ignored several warnings.
Giants second baseman Ray Durham, who hurt his left shoulder Tuesday night on a hard takeout slide by Loney, was replaced in the starting lineup by Eugenio Velez. Durham pinch-hit in the fourth and struck out with two men in scoring position.
- Brian Wilson got four outs for his first save.
- Torre said the Bowa story would have had a much longer shelf life if it took place in the Bronx. "That would be going on for a long time," Torre said. "I mean, we hit Manny (Ramirez) the other day (in an exhibition game), but at least nobody accused us of doing it on purpose. When that kind of thing happened in our series with the Red Sox, it was always 'premeditated.' So I don't miss that stuff, trust me."