SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have been on the wrong end of a no-hitter, walk-off hits and blowouts while losing 33 of their past 50 games. But as Monday turned to Tuesday, the Giants found a way to lose that left manager Bruce Bochy shaking his head.

"That's as frustrating a game as we've had," Bochy said.

The Giants lost to the New York Mets 4-3 in 16 innings in a game that lasted 5 hours and 26 minutes. Tim Lincecum and the bullpen held the Mets down for most of that time, but the lineup couldn't break out of a slumber that seems to be derailing a repeat bid.

The Giants left 18 runners on base, their highest total since 1998. Thirteen were left on base in extra innings.

"You've got to find a hole, keep competing, keep fighting," right fielder Hunter Pence said. "Just battle. I haven't gotten much done with runners in scoring position. Part of it is maybe being too aggressive. It's tough when it's going like this."

The Giants wasted a handful of opportunities to end the night long before the Mets won it, leaving the potential winning run in scoring position in the 11th and 12th innings and the bases loaded in the 13th and 15th. They put the potential tying run on second and the potential winning run on first with one out in the bottom of the 16th but again couldn't score.


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All the missed opportunities opened the door for the Mets as players wore down late into the night. Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, who had made a spectacular run-saving play in the 11th, misplayed a grounder with runners on the corners and two outs in the top of the 16th. The Mets, who already had played 15-plus innings three times this season, made the run hold up.

Nearly half a day earlier, Bochy, hoping for a spark, moved Brandon Belt up to the No. 3 spot in the order. The start was Belt's first in the No. 3 spot, but it was a more familiar middle-of-the-order bat that got the Giants on the board. With Marco Scutaro on first and two outs in the first inning, Buster Posey crushed a 95 mph fastball from Matt Harvey into the left-field seats. The homer was the 13th of the season for Posey. He also had a double and a single against Harvey.

Harvey is a leading candidate to start for the National League in the All-Star Game, an honor given to Tim Lincecum in 2009. For most of Monday night, Lincecum looked like the pitcher who earned that start four years ago.

He struck out the first two hitters of the game and had six strikeouts through four hitless innings. A single by Marlon Byrd and a double by John Buck got the Mets on the board in the fifth, but Lincecum mixed in two more strikeouts while getting out of the inning.

Lincecum entered the night with a 7.45 ERA in the sixth inning this year, and thanks to some rough defense, the wheels came off again. Eric Young led off the sixth with a triple to left field and scored when Andres Torres whiffed while sliding for Daniel Murphy's flare to left. David Wright followed with a grounder to third, and Murphy was safe at second when Pablo Sandoval attempted to get a force-out. Scutaro then attempted to get Wright out at first but threw the ball away, allowing Murphy to advance. A double-play grounder by Ike Davis scored Murphy, putting the Mets on top 3-2.

Lincecum bounced back in the seventh, striking out two to reach double-digits for the first time this season. Lincecum gave up six hits and three earned runs over seven innings and finished with just one walk and 11 strikeouts, his highest total since July 14 last year. Lincecum threw 70 strikes, a season high.

Lincecum had lost four straight decisions, but the Giants got him off the hook in the seventh when Pence broke an 0-for-24 slump with a triple and Crawford followed with a single to center.

Neither team threatened for several innings until the Mets put two runners in scoring position with two outs in the top of the 11th. Byrd hit a hard grounder to short, but Crawford made a diving stop into the hole and a strong throw to first to get the Giants out of the inning.

The Giants caught a break in the bottom of the inning when Posey hit a one-out pop-up to right field that was dropped by second baseman Daniel Murphy, allowing Posey to take second. After an intentional walk of Sandoval, Pence lined out to right field and Crawford popped up to short.

Gregor Blanco singled with two outs in the bottom of the 12th and moved to second on Scutaro's single, but Belt struck out for the fourth straight time on a night when he went 0 for 8 with five strikeouts.

That would be the beginning of a theme in extra innings. The Giants put at least one runner on in seven of the last eight innings but could never get the winning run across. They were 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position and have just three hits in their past 51 at-bats in those situations.

"What, 18 guys left on ..." Bochy said, his voice trailing off. "We just had a tough time making a play."

  • For the second time since being drafted by the Giants in 2009, right-hander Zack Wheeler found himself at AT&T Park. This time, he was throwing on the visiting side of the field. Wheeler was drafted sixth overall in 2009 but was traded to the Mets in 2011 for Carlos Beltran. He said he was excited about being back at AT&T Park and was looking forward to facing the Giants on Wednesday.

    "I definitely want to go out there and do well for myself and maybe show them what they could have had, I guess," Wheeler said, smiling. "It'll definitely be fun."

    Wheeler played with several current Giants, including Belt, Crawford and Hector Sanchez. Instead of being part of the core in San Francisco, Wheeler has teamed with Harvey to give long-suffering Mets fans a little hope.

    The 23-year-old said he has no hard feelings about the trade, even after watching the Giants win a title without him.

    "It's the game of baseball -- you trade people and make deals so you can win," Wheeler said. "It happened, and it will probably happen again sometime. It's the game."

  • Infielder Joaquin Arias had surgery for appendicitis Sunday night and was placed on the disabled list. Arias, who is hitting .282 this season, is expected to miss two to three weeks. Nick Noonan was called up from Triple-A Fresno to take Arias' roster spot. Arias became the 10th Giant to be placed on the disabled list this season.

  • Reliever Santiago Casilla (knee surgery) was roughed up in a rehab assignment for the San Jose Giants. Casilla walked three of the four hitters he faced and threw just five of 17 pitches for strikes.

    For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.