A seven-run sixth inning turned a one-run Dodgers lead into a 9-3 Giants romp in the series opener on Friday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
For the Dodgers it gives them no margin for error in what remains of the race for home field advantage in the National League Division Series. LA is two games back of the Nationals with two games to play, needing all four remaining outcomes this weekend to fall their way to start the playoffs at Dodger Stadium.
For the Giants, the win kept them one game up on the Cardinals for the second National League wild card, and one game behind the Mets for the first wild card spot. San Francisco could clinch a wild card berth as early as Saturday but would need both a win over the Dodgers and a Cardinals loss to Pittsburgh.
The Dodgers had a lead over the Giants and Madison Bumgarner 3-2 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. That’s when starter Brandon McCarthy entered in relief, one last try to secure a possible spot on the NLDS roster.
The audition did not go well.
McCarthy, who pitched well and into the sixth inning last Sunday in his return from the disabled list after missing six weeks with the yips, walked his first batter faced on Friday, then allowed two singles to load the bases with nobody out.
A double by Conor Gillaspie gave the Giants the lead, then another double by Bumgarner made it 6-3.
A single by Denard Span ended McCarthy’s night, all before he recorded an out, making him just the sixth Dodgers relief pitcher since 1913 to face at least six batters and not record an out. The last was Mike Fetters on July 6, 2001 against the Mariners.
Josh Ravin, against whom batters were 0-for-20 with a walk and nine strikeouts in September, entered in relief of McCarthy and promptly allowed a three-run home run to Brandon Belt, effectively ending the competitive phase of Friday’s contest.
The seven runs tied the most the Dodgers have allowed in any single inning in 2016, set also in a win on July 29 at home against Arizona.
McCarthy, who had two hits, pitched seven innings and struck out five for his 15th win, and his first in five starts against the Dodgers this season.
Both starters saw trouble in the first inning, with the Dodgers and Giants plating two runs apiece. The key hits in each frame were doubles, one by Yasiel Puig and the other by Gorkys Hernandez.
But then both Rich Hill and Bumgarner settled in, the latter retiring nine straight at one point. Hill allowed only three more hits and no runs, ending his night after five innings and 82 pitches in his final tune up for the playoffs.
Hill had a 1.83 ERA in his seven regular season starts as a Dodger, with 39 strikeouts and five walk. He began 35 different innings with the Dodgers, and ended 30 of them scoreless.
These two teams are back at it again on Saturday afternoon, with Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers in a 1:05 p.m. PT start. The Giants made their choice for pitcher after the game:
Bochy said Blach starts tomorrow.— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) October 1, 2016
Home run: Brandon Belt (17)
WP - Madison Bumgarner (15-9): 7⅓ IP, 8 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
LP - Brandon McCarthy (2-3): 0 IP, 5 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk