LOS ANGELES -- Johnny Cueto was brilliant, and after he departed the Dodgers comeback attempt fell just short, succumbing to the Giants 4-3 on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
Down 4-0 in the seventh, the Dodgers scored once in the seventh and got a two-run home run from Corey Seager, his first of the year, in the eighth inning to pull within a run.
Yasmani Grandal doubled to open the ninth inning and moved to third base with one out, but the game ended with the tying run 90 feet away, as closer Santiago Casilla got Joc Pederson to pop out in foul territory and pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig to fly out to left to end the game.
Cueto retired the first 13 batters of the game, before Grandal hit a double to the right center field gap to break up the perfect game in the fifth. The Dodgers didn't score off Cueto until the seventh, when they were able to scratch together a run but that's all.
Cueto pitched into the eighth inning and allowed just three hits and a pair of walks, striking out seven. He has lasted at least seven innings in all three starts as a Giant, something that might have seemed impossible six days ago.
The Dodgers scored five runs in their very first inning against Cueto last Sunday, but he recovered to somehow last seven as the Giants came back to win in San Francisco. On Saturday in Los Angeles the Giants needed no comeback, and Cueto kept the Dodgers off balance all night.
After that first inning Sunday, Cueto has allowed the Dodgers two runs on eight hits in 13⅓ innings, with 15 strikeouts and three walks.
The other similarity from Sunday was another short start by Scott Kazmir.
Kazmir was in constant trouble all night, though was able to wiggle out of jams with a run here and a run there.
In the first inning, Denard Span singled and advanced on a wild pitch. Joe Panik singled him home then advanced to second on another wild pitch. With the heart of the Giants' order due up and nobody out, Kazmir seemed trapped in an endless loop, but he was somehow able to escape with a pop out and two strikeouts.
The Giants scored again in the fourth inning, with Brandon Crawford's RBI double over the head of Kiké Hernandez in left field the big blow. But Kazmir was fortunate again here, because Crawford's double surely would have scored two runs instead of one had it not bounced over the left field wall. But it did, and two outs later two more runners were stranded in scoring position.
The fifth inning saw a trap from which Kazmir couldn't escape. Three singles and a walk brought home one run, and ended his night. Adam Liberatore did well to allow just one more run to score after inheriting the bases-loaded, no-out situation.
For Kazmir, that makes back-to-back starts recording only 12 outs against the Giants. He allowed six runs last Sunday, and four more on Saturday night, the latter a number that if anything seems low. Kazmir needed 93 pitches to record those 12 outs, and along the way allowed seven hits and four walks while throwing two wild pitches and striking out three.
Liberatore retired five of the six batters he faced, with the inherited run scoring on a double play in the fifth. The two-inning outing matched the longest appearance of his brief major league career, done two other times in 2015.
The Dodgers bullpen has tossed 12 consecutive scoreless innings.
Hernandez drove in the Dodgers' first run in the seventh inning on Saturday, his third straight game with at least on RBI, the longest such streak of his career.
The home run for Seager came against left-hander Javier Lopez, and was notable:
Javier Lopez has faced 554 left-handed batters as a Giant. He has allowed three home runs. Pedro Alvarez, Freddie Freeman, Corey Seager.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) April 17, 2016
The Dodgers try for the series win on Sunday night, with Kenta Maeda getting introduced to a national audience on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball in his third start. The Giants counter with newcomer Jeff Samardzija in the series finale.
Home run: Corey Seager (1)
WP - Johnny Cueto (3-0): 7⅓ IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
LP - Scott Kazmir (1-1): 4+ IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
Sv - Santiago Casilla (3): 1 IP, 1 hit