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SF@PIT: Scutaro hit by pitch and forced to leave game

PITTSBURGH -- From the Giants' perspective, the true outcome of their 8-2 loss Tuesday night to the Pirates won't be known until Wednesday, when more is learned about the status of Marco Scutaro's left pinkie.

Scutaro was hurt when a pitch from Pirates reliever Tony Watson struck him on his hand with two outs in the seventh inning. The scene appeared eerily identical to the May 20 incident when Ryan Vogelsong was hit on the pinkie of his pitching hand, sidelining him for 8-10 weeks.

X-rays confirmed that Scutaro's finger wasn't fractured. But, unable to straighten his pinkie -- "It looked like a snake," he said -- he left the clubhouse with his finger in a plastic splint and the team figuratively holding its breath. Scutaro certainly won't play Wednesday, but he will visit a hand specialist. If the doctor confirms the Giants' fears that the tendons in Scutaro's finger are damaged, the team could be without its most consistent hitter for an extended period.

Thus, Scutaro could join the list of ailing regulars that includes third baseman Pablo Sandoval (left foot) and center fielder Angel Pagan (left hamstring), who both are on the 15-day disabled list.

"The best news we can hope for is he wakes up [Wednesday] and he can straighten it out and it feels pretty good," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who discussed the situation with general manager Brian Sabean by telephone immediately after the game. "But it's hurting him right now."

Breaking the postgame silence in the clubhouse when approached by reporters, Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum admitted that Scutaro's uncertain condition partly accounted for the grim atmosphere.

"Obviously it is [a concern], just because he's such a pivotal player to our lineup and he gets all those hits and plays great defense," Lincecum said of Scutaro, who's batting .332 in 58 games. "If you lose a guy like that, a mainstay guy who's playing every day, it's tough."

Scutaro dislocated the same finger several years ago, according to Bochy. This time, the second baseman immediately believed that his injury was worse.

"As soon as I got hit and my finger was [crooked], I thought it was broke for sure," he said.

Grimacing in pain, Scutaro immediately left the game for pinch-runner Juan Perez and was replaced at second base by Tony Abreu, who'll likely receive most of the playing time at second base if Scutaro is sidelined for multiple days. Abreu drove in the Giants' first run of the game earlier in the seventh with a pinch-hit double.

Abreu's hit was essentially the game's highlight for the Giants, who trailed, 5-0, through six innings in Pittsburgh right-hander Gerrit Cole's highly anticipated Major League debut. San Francisco rapped a pair of hits in each of the first two innings and loaded the bases in the second. But Cole, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of UCLA, escaped each jam.

"That's a good ballclub," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of the Giants, explaining their early success against Cole. "Sometimes you need to give hitters some credit as well."

Lincecum was less fortunate. Neil Walker's bloop single to center field, the last of three consecutive hits, loaded the bases for the Pirates with nobody out in the second. One out later, Lincecum forged ahead on the count against Cole, 0-2. But Lincecum threw three consecutive balls and couldn't put away Cole, who went 0-for-6 during his abbreviated Minor League career. Cole then lined Lincecum's full-count pitch to right-center field for a single, scoring Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez.

"That's where you have to take advantage of the fact that it is the pitcher and just go after him and be aggressive," Lincecum said. "And I wasn't enough as I needed to."

Cole, who ultimately yielded two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, outdid Lincecum, whose 4 2/3-innings outing was his second-shortest of the season. During the game, Lincecum didn't give the fuss over Cole a second thought. His perspective changed somewhat afterward as he considered the excitement generated at PNC Park by a hard-throwing right-hander from a (then) Pac-10 school -- recalling the pandemonium Lincecum's starts formerly caused.

"After the fact, a guy coming up in his first start kind of takes you back to yours," Lincecum said. "He did an outstanding job of commanding the zone. He has a power fastball and the rest of his pitches are pretty much power pitches. I tip my cap to him coming out here and pitching to us the way he did."

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