LOS ANGELES -- Thursday night brought the latest bad dream in this nightmarish season for the Giants.
Brian Wilson, winning pitcher. Dodgers 3, Giants 2, 10 innings.
It was easy to imagine that Wilson, the three-time All-Star closer whose wit, beard, energy and thrilling performances won the hearts of the Giants' fan base, felt a measure of revenge after helping defeat the team that allowed him to slip away via free agency after he underwent his second Tommy John elbow surgery in April 2012.
Whatever Wilson was thinking and feeling, he didn't reveal it at Dodger Stadium. Engrossed in a pregame session of dominoes, Wilson didn't finish his recreation until shortly before pregame drills began and had no time to speak to reporters. After the game, he quickly left the clubhouse and declined to address the media.
Many in the Giants' legions of followers doubtlessly felt tortured after Wilson pitched a scoreless 10th and benefited from Adrian Gonzalez's one-out single in the bottom of the inning that broke a 2-2 tie. But the Giants seemed to take it all in stride.
"It was fun," Giants catcher Buster Posey said of facing Wilson, who retired him on a fly to right field. "You look forward to challenges against good pitchers, and he's one of them."
Posey insisted that he didn't dwell on the fact that he was facing the former teammate who he embraced in sheer joy after the final outs of the National League Championship Series and World Series in 2010. "Once the at-bat started," Posey said, "it felt like a normal at-bat."
Posey favorably compared Wilson's skill to the prowess the right-hander displayed as a Giant. Wilson's fastball ranged from 93-95 mph. "It's obviously different hitting [against him] instead of catching him," Posey said. "But just looking at the velocity of his cutter and his fastball, it's pretty close to where he always is."
Said manager Bruce Bochy, "He got us out. He did his job. He did a good job for us. ... He's with another club. We were doing all we could to score off him."
But after the Giants failed to score with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, stranded a runner on second in the ninth and could muster no more offense against Wilson than Brandon Belt's one-out walk, the Dodgers sustained their winning rally.
Carl Crawford launched the uprising by grounding a single to right field off left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, freshly activated from the disabled list after missing 50 games with a strained left groin. Nick Punto's sacrifice bunt advanced Crawford to second base. Up came Gonzalez, who stroked a 2-2 pitch up the middle. The ball barely eluded shortstop Brandon Crawford and proceeded into center field, enabling Carl Crawford to slide home safely and ending Affeldt's first appearance since July 20.
The outcome trimmed the Dodgers' magic number for clinching the National League West title to five. Thus, Los Angeles has a chance to celebrate in front of the Giants in the series finale.
Trailing, 2-1, the Giants squandered their bases-loaded opportunity in the eighth when Hunter Pence, who homered in the second inning, grounded into an inning-ending double play. But they pulled even in the ninth against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.
Pablo Sandoval singled leading off and was replaced by pinch-runner Juan Perez, who stole second base and scooted to third on catcher Tim Federowicz's passed ball. Gregor Blanco singled to center on a 3-2 pitch, scoring Perez.
Giants starter Matt Cain performed almost flawlessly for seven innings. But that word "almost" hung like an ineffective slider. Cain committed two miscues, both of which generated Los Angeles runs.
With one out in the second and Juan Uribe on first base, A.J. Ellis hit a comebacker to Cain, who tried to start an inning-ending double play, but flung the ball into center field to put runners at the corners. Mark Ellis' fielder's-choice grounder scored Uribe.
Oddly enough, considering that the Giants' season has been pockmarked with errors, Cain's misplay ended their 13-game errorless streak -- the longest in franchise history since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"It wasn't an awful throw, but it was bad timing, and sometimes that's part of it," Cain said. "We make that play all the time in Spring Training. It's a simple play, but sometimes the timing's off. You're going full speed and it's just a little bit different."
Cain didn't lapse again until the seventh, when A.J. Ellis blooped a leadoff single to right field. Pinch-runner Dee Gordon then stole second base and advanced to third on Mark Ellis' sacrifice bunt. Pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. struck out, setting up a riveting confrontation between Cain and Yasiel Puig.
Cain started the at-bat with an inside fastball, which Puig lined to the left-center field wall for a double. That hiked the remarkable rookie's first-pitch batting average to an astronomical .574 (35-for-61). Puig ended his swing with a flourish, punctuating his follow-through by flipping his bat as Gordon scored easily.
"I threw where I wanted to throw it, inside, and he put a pretty good swing on it," Cain said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.