LOS ANGELES -- After Friday night’s shouting match between Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner over Flipped-Bat-Gate -- and then the ejection of L.A. manager Don Mattingly’s -- everyone wondered whether the ensuing matinee would feature more flaring tempers.
As it turned out, not so much. Good behavior was exhibited by all.
However, the key to winning games isn’t good manners but rather production.
And for the game’s first half, the Dodgers remained in their seemingly perpetually lifeless rut.
Better late than never, their offense finally was discovered, and the bleeding from a three-game losing streak was stopped.
Whether this win marks the start of something larger or just a brief respite from the latest malaise remains to be seen. For the time being, the Dodgers avoided falling to .500 and the very definition of average.
How it happened: After scuffling badly for five innings against Giants starter Matt Cain, the Dodgers finally broke through in the sixth, drawing two walks and adding a single to force the righty’s exit. Adrian Gonzalez didn’t exactly pounce on a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity by hitting into a double play, but a runner was pushed across the dish. Matt Kemp then tied the game at 2 all with a single to left. In the seventh inning, Dee Gordon laced a single down the left field line to score Drew Butera, and push the Dodgers ahead for good. Kemp sealed the victory with an eighth inning solo shot to right field.
Hits: Gordon led off the first inning with a base hit to right, then stole second and third base, putting himself in prime (if ultimately stranded) position. Gordon stole three bases in all, drove in the go-ahead RBI and was without question the Dodgers’ biggest spark on the day.
Perhaps Zack Greinke is a creature of night, because a 1:10 p.m. start didn’t seem to suit him. The ace began the game lacking his characteristic sharpness. The first inning required him to wriggle out of a bases loaded jam, and that 20-pitch frame set the tone for an afternoon where he wasn’t necessarily beaten up, but often labored. In fairness, he wasn’t done consistent favors by the fielding behind him (more on that later) and a few balls just fell into the right spot for San Francisco. On the other hand, he also accumulated eight strikeouts along the way and generally fared better as the game progressed. Greinke has seen better days and there will be better days to come, but he did enough to keep his team in the game until the bats woke up and collect the win.
Puig’s second-inning laser throw on an attempted sacrifice to shallow right kept Brandon Crawford on third and saved an otherwise sure run. (Crawford scored on a sacrifice to center by Hunter Pence on the next at bat, but it’s the thought that counts, right?) Puig also extended his career-high hitting streak to 10 with a two-hit, one-RBI day. And he ran down a foul ball in right field for a sensational ninth-inning catch.
Misses: Defense reared its ugly head yet again, when a miscommunication between Greinke and Chone Figgins left third base uncovered on Cain’s bunt, and Brandon Crawford in eventual position to score. The third inning also witnessed Figgins brick a routine throw to first. Between these mishaps, a hitless day and getting caught stealing in the second, it was a day Figgins would likely just as soon forget.
There’s no question Brian Wilson’s eighth-inning appearance protected the Dodgers’ lead, but not without a bases-loaded, two-out scare. Still, The Bearded One came through, which is all that matters in the end.
Stat of the game: .307, the Dodgers average with runners in scoring position. It felt for a while that number would be roughly 0.00, but the Dodgers eventually capitalized on chances.
Up next: The Dodgers look to honor their mothers by tying up the series on Sunday. Thankfully, they’ve got Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 0.66 ERA) taking the hill. And with Tim Hudson (4-2, 1.99 ERA) representing the Giants, the potential for an exceptional pitcher’s duel is high.