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Dodgers handily lose battle of bullpens to Giants in opener

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San Francisco widens NL West lead to 2 games over Los Angeles

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

For all the recent post-break talk about a sprint toward the finish line, the opener of Dodgers-Giants was instead a long slog, a steamy and meandering journey that required relief. The road team found theirs, then pulled away against the home team that didn’t in a 7-2, series-opening win on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

Both starting pitchers were swallowed whole by this game, both succumbing after 80 pitches. Kevin Gausman recorded nine outs, Tony Gonsolin 10.

Each team bombed away with two home runs in the first inning. Buster Posey had a runner on base for his blast, in his first game back off the injured list. The others — Wilmer Flores for the Giants; Max Muncy and Justin Turner for the Dodgers — hit solo shots, earning San Francisco an early advantage.

Gausman has been the best non-deGrom pitcher in the National League this season, but on Monday the Dodgers managed three walks, a double, and a hit by pitch out of him. That ended Gausman’s night after just three innings, his shortest start of the season.

Gonsolin’s short start was more the norm, though the three runs he allowed in the opening frame were two more than he allowed in any of his previous seven games. Gonsolin needed 32 pitches to get through the first inning, the third time he’s reached 30 pitches in the opening inning in 2021.

He settled down somewhat after that, but still walked four and threw more balls (41) than strikes (39) on Monday. Gonsolin has pitched into the fifth inning only once in eight tries this season. Gonsolin described his command as “really bad” after the game.

“I don’t really have a great answer. If I knew what was going to fix my command issues going on right now, I’d do those,” Gonsolin said. “We’re going to take a little dive tomorrow and see if we can figure it out.”

A rarity

Jimmie Sherfy has been a fun fact generator since joining the Dodgers on Friday. First, he and his ex-Oregon teammates all pitched in a game together. Then on Monday he even batted, after stranding both runners Gonsolin left on base when he left in the fourth.

Sherfy grounded out, shattering a borrowed bat in the process, in his third career plate appearance. But that Sherfy, who was claimed off waivers from the Giants six days ago, pitched at all with his new team made for some history.

While Sherfy escaped inherited damage, the Dodgers relievers that followed created their own jams.

Pen blotter

Phil Bickford escaped some damage in the sixth, but left with one out in the seventh after allowing a leadoff single. Victor Gonzalez, back off the injured list on Monday, looked rusty, allowing four hits in his six batters faced, opening the floodgates of a four-run inning.

Gonzalez in his four July appearances has allowed five runs on nine hits while recording nine outs.

After taxing Gausman and chasing after three innings, the Dodgers simply didn’t threaten at all against the Giants bullpen. A fifth-inning walk by Muncy wasn’t capitalized, and one Dodger reached base the rest of the game.

San Francisco relief pitchers combined to strike out six in six scoreless innings, retiring 12 batters in a row until the ninth.

Dodgers relievers allowed four runs on seven hits in 5⅔ frames, with three strikeouts. That was the ballgame.

Mookie Betts, who was a late scratch on Monday with right hip irritation, struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. Roberts said an injured list stint isn’t a consideration for Betts, who is expected to be in the starting lineup on Tuesday after not starting the last two games.

“The hitting is not a problem. It’s kind of the running, a lot of running,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s not that serious.”

Monday particulars

Home runs: Max Muncy (22), Justin Turner (17); Buster Posey (13), Wilmer Flores (10)

WP — Jarlin Garcia (2-2): 1⅓ IP, 2 strikeouts

LP — Tony Gonsolin (1-1): 3⅓ IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts

Up next

Josiah Gray will make his major league debut on Tuesday (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network) for the Dodgers, following a left-handed opener to be determined. Old friend Alex Wood, once traded for Gray, starts for San Francisco.