"I think it's getting in our heads a little bit now," Torre said. "Because some of the opportunities, we're probably squeezing the sawdust out of the bats a little bit."
The Dodgers had their chances late thanks to Carlos Monasterios' two innings of one-hit relief after McDonald went five innings. McDonald let up nine hits, two walks and four runs -- a total that easily could have been higher had he not worked out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the second.
"I thought he threw the ball good, but again, throwing the ball good isn't good enough if you don't locate it," Torre said. "I thought his stuff was good, his offspeed stuff, the slider which is a new pitch for him. But there were a couple of counts where he got ahead in the count and probably made his pitches a little too fat."
Torre said he wasn't sure if McDonald would receive another start in the ever-revolving fifth spot in the rotation.
With the Dodgers down, 4-2, in the seventh, pinch-hitter Garret Anderson started a two-out rally with just his fourth walk of the season, against former Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota. Mota was replaced by Sergio Romo, and a single from Rafael Furcal was followed by a walk from Jamey Carroll.
It was another fantastic night for Furcal, who had three hits, including his seventh home run of the season in the sixth off San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner, and he paces the NL with a .338 average. Entering Monday, he finally accumulated enough at-bats to officially qualify as the league's leader.
Andre Ethier couldn't follow with another hit against southpaw Jeremy Affedlt, who got an inning-ending groundout to first.
"There's not a lot of room for error with him," said Affeldt, who retired Ethier on a 1-1 inside fastball. "I didn't have a lot of options."
"We just haven't been able to [get it done] for whatever reason," said Carroll, who was 1-for-3 in his first start in the outfield of this season. "You're pushing to be the guy to get the big hit, but we just haven't been able to do it."
Ethier had a second chance in the ninth against closer Brian Wilson, who tied Heath Bell for an NL-leading 26th save. Russell Martin, back in the lineup after a thumb bruise on his catching hand kept him out, started the inning with a single to center. That brought up the .187-hitting Anderson again, who looked as overmatched as he has almost all season in a four-pitch strikeout.
The rally continued with a Furcal single. Blake DeWitt struck out after going up 2-0, but that at-bat turned on home-plate umpire Mike Everitt's strike call on an inside pitch that should have brought the count to 3-0. Said Torre, "That makes a big difference."
Representing the tying run, Ethier had a second chance, but Wilson wanted little to do with him. Ethier walked on five pitches.
"Who knows, guys are just trying to make quality pitches and aren't trying to make mistakes," Ethier said. "And I guess they'd rather err on the side of missing off the plate than on the plate."
Casey Blake was in the cleanup spot behind Ethier instead of Matt Kemp, who was dropped to the six-hole and collected his first three-hit game of the month after falling into a slide. But Blake was 0-for-4, and ended the game with a three-pitch strikeout.
"I don't know what else to say," Ethier said. "The frustrating part is losing. San Diego keeps playing well. ... I think what's a bit of frustration right now is that we made up a lot of ground before the break and we let it slip away a little bit."
Some bizarre plays helped and hurt both teams. The Dodgers scored their second run in the sixth on a play that started with James Loney on second, Carroll on third and two outs. Kemp grounded to Pablo Sandoval at third and Sandoval went to step on the base, but he had no force play. The third baseman recovered to tag Loney but not before Carroll could score. Had Sandoval been aware, he easily could have prevented the run from scoring because Loney made no effort to get into a rundown. Replays showed Carroll may have been out anyway.
The Giants added their fifth run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly that nearly didn't bring home a run because Andres Torres was doubled off at first base. There was one more goodie in the bottom of the inning, when Ronnie Belliard struck out swinging on a ball that ended up hitting his back foot. The umpires got the call correct after briefly convening.
"There's a lot of weird stuff that went on," Torre said. "Right up until the end. You had the middle of your order up with the tying run on base and you couldn't come through."