Walker Buehler had his worst and shortest start of the season, the Giants capitalized on opportunities while the visitors did not in a 6-4 San Francisco triumph. The Dodgers leave town in second place in the National League West.
The Giants are up in the division by one game, with 25 left on the schedule. Sunday night gave San Francisco the season series win over the Dodgers, 10 games to nine, which means should the two teams end up with the same record through 162 games, Game 163 would be right back at Oracle Park.
If the Dodgers are in position to be able to line up their rotation how they want, Buehler would likely still be the pitcher they’d want starting such a game, with his 2.35 postseason ERA and his Game 163 brilliance in 2018.
But on Sunday, it just wasn’t Buehler’s night. He gave up six runs in all, one more than his total in his five previous starts against the Giants this season.
“They were on him tonight,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There were some missed locations, there was some tough luck, and also some quality contact. There just wasn’t a lot of swing-and-miss stuff.”
The second inning offered a glimpse of how this game would go. Two hits and a walk gave the Dodgers their first run, tying the game, and a wild pitch put runners at second and third with nobody out.
Chris Taylor popped out in the infield, Cody Bellinger struck out swinging, as did Buehler, stranding both runners.
In the bottom of the frame, Brandon Crawford walked and Mike Yastrzemski doubled, putting the Giants in the exact same position, with runners on second and third and nobody out. Steven Duggar, called up before Sunday’s game, tripled to right field, scoring both runs, then scored on a single by pinch-hitter Darin Ruf.
The Dodgers scored none after that two-on, none-out situation, and the Giants scored three.
San Francisco hit the ball hard all night against Buehler, though “all night” was shorter for the Dodgers ace than at any point this season. Buehler only lasted three innings, allowing at least a run in all three innings.
Buehler allowed a home run, a triple, and three doubles. The five extra-base hits are a season high, and the third-most he’s allowed in any game in his career.
That Buehler got hit around was surprising not just because he’s a National League Cy Young contender, and even with his clunker on Sunday still leads the majors in ERA (2.31). But it underscores just how excellent Dodgers pitching has been, with a 2.30 ERA in 31 games since the beginning of August. Buehler was the first Dodgers pitcher to allow more than three runs in a game since all the way back on July 29.
“This was a big game, but there’s a month left to play,” Buehler said. “It boils down to playing a better month of baseball than they do. That’s our goal and that’s my goal.”
Not sidelined after all
There was talk Friday of David Price possibly landing on the injured list, as the veteran left-hander is dealing with elbow soreness. But he was kept on the roster, with Roberts saying Saturday, “He’s active until he’s not.”
Price is still active and pitched 1⅔ innings in relief on Sunday, his first appearance in eight days. He allowed half of his 10 batters faced to reach base with three walks (one intentional), a double, and a single, but all five runners were stranded.
Priming the pump
In advance of returning to his old stomping grounds in St. Louis, Albert Pujols hit a two-run pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning off Jake McGee to pull the Dodgers within 6-4. It was Pujols’ second pinch-hit home run of the season, and his ninth homer against left-handed pitching since joining Los Angeles.
Roberts said before Sunday’s game that Pujols would start Tuesday and Thursday against the Cardinals, against left-handers J.A. Happ and Kwan Hyun Kim, respectively.
Home run: Albert Pujols (16); Brandon Belt (21)
WP — Zack Littell (2-0): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
LP — Walker Buehler (13-3): 3 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeouts
The Dodgers have a quick turnaround with a trip to St. Louis for a four-game series against the Cardinals. Max Scherzer flew east ahead of the team to start Monday’s series opener (1:15 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with right-hander Miles Mikolas starting for St. Louis.