Another night, another low-scoring game between the Dodgers and Giants. On Tuesday, the Giants had another 1-0 lead when the starter left, and asked their bullpen to get 11 outs instead of six. This time, they obliged to finish off a 2-0 win over the Dodgers in the middle game of the series.
The Dodgers’ loss lowered their lead in the National League West to five games over the Giants, with 11 games to play. The magic number remains seven to clinch the division.
The Dodgers had their chances against Johnny Cueto, putting at least two runners on base in five of his six innings, including hits from the first two batters in each of the first and second frames.
Cueto allowed eight hits and two walks, but six and allowed no runs. He was limited to just 5⅓ innings only because of an apparent leg injury in the sixth inning, leaving with a left groin strain.
Left-handed reliever Steven Okert faced a pair of right-handed pinch-hitters in Yasiel Pug and Kiké Hernandez, but struck out both to keep the Dodgers off the board.
Okert ended up pitching a scoreless seventh inning as well, allowing only one single.
Another lefty, Will Smith, pitched a perfect eighth, with two strikeouts.
Brandon Belt hit a solo home run off Grant Dayton in the ninth inning for an insurance run for San Francisco.
The ninth inning assignment went to right-hander Sergio Romo, the Giants’ former closer with 80 career saves under his belt. But none this year.
Romo got the final three outs, two by strikeout, for his first save since July 27, 2015.
Combined, Giants relievers on Tuesday retired 11 of 12 batters faced, with seven strikeouts.
Rich Hill, like Cueto, gave up some hits but was slinging zeroes as well. The Giants loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth inning, but Hill froze Brandon Belt with a fastball to strike him out and end the inning.
The game was scoreless until two outs in the fifth when Eduardo Nunez drove one just off what appeared to be the top of the left field wall. Nunez got a triple as the ball bounced back toward the infield, but upon further review it wasn’t the top of the wall but rather the bullpen camera just beyond the wall, so Nunez got to trot the final 90 feet for a solo home run.
Much like Monday night with Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers found themselves down 1-0 with the pitcher’s spot due up in the middle innings. On Tuesday it was one inning earlier, with Hill having only allowed the one run in five innings, with seven strikeouts and just 77 pitches.
But in need of offense, Hill was pulled for pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the fifth. They did not score.
The Dodgers ended the night 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford was thrown out by Andrew Toles to end the top of the second inning, trying to advance to third base on a single to left field. But the decision was costly for more than just the result of the play.
Crawford slid headfirst into third base and jammed his left hand. He had to leave the game, suffering a dislocated left pinkie finger.
Kenta Maeda takes the ball in the series finale for the Dodgers, trying for the series win and a chance to lop two more off the magic number. The Giants counter with left-hander Matt Moore in Wednesday night’s 7:10 p.m. PT start. In addition to SportsNet LA, the game will televised nationally by ESPN with no blackouts.
Home runs: Eduardo Nunez (16), Brandon Belt (16)
WP - Johnny Cueto (17-5): 5⅓ IP, 8 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP - Rich Hill (12-5): 5 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Sv - Sergio Romo (1): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts