The Los Angeles Dodgers reduced their magic number to five with a dramatic tenth-inning 3-2 walkoff win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night – but it wasn’t easy.
Both Zack Greinke and Matt Cain ended up putting together solid starts, as hitting was kept to a minimum for most of the early going.
Leading off the second, Hunter Pence slapped a line-drive homer that eluded the efforts of Yasiel Puig, clearing wall in the right-field corner and giving S.F. an early 1-0 lead.
The bottom of the second was an odd inning for the Giants. After Andre Ethier reached on an infield single deflected by Sandoval, Scutaro couldn’t corral Juan Uribe’s pop to shallow right field. He dropped the ball, firing to second to retire Ethier on a force out. A.J. Ellis then hit a comebacker, but Cain’s throw to second sailed into center field for an error, putting runners on first and third with one out.
Mark Ellis brought in the tying run on a fielder’s choice, knotting things at 1-1. Greinke’s subsequent grounder to Sandoval at third resulted in another infield single when Sandoval couldn’t get up and fire the ball to third in time for the out. Cain then walked Puig on four pitches before Crawford flew out with the bases loaded for the final out.
Cain allowed a leadoff single to Uribe in the fourth but retired A.J. Ellis, Mark Ellis and Greinke to quash any potential run-scoring aspirations by the Dodgers in the inning.
With Greinke’s pitch count climbing toward 100, he allowed consecutive two-out singles to Pagan and Scutaro in the fifth before getting Belt to ground out to second to escape the jam and preserve the 1-1 tie.
In Greinke’s half of the sixth, he struck out Posey, retired Pence on a grounder to Ramirez and coaxed a flyout from Sandoval to complete the inning – and his night – on his 107th pitch. His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
The seventh inning began amid much confusion. After Nick Punto came in to replace Ramirez – who was removed for precautionary reasons due to hamstring tightness – Paco Rodriguez came in to replace Greinke, but was removed by Mattingly before throwing a pitch. Apparently, J.P. Howell had mistakenly been announced as the new pitcher, necessitating his entrance into the game – leaving Rodriguez eligible on the lineup card after the mix-up.
Once the confusion died down, Howell retired Crawford and allowed a single to Blanco. On Cain’s failed bunt strikeout, A.J. Ellis fired to second to catch Blanco stealing, ending the frame on a double play.
With the 1-1 deadlock still in effect, A.J. Ellis was removed in favor of Dee Gordon after leading off the bottom of the seventh with a bloop single. Gordon promptly stole second and advanced to third on Mark Ellis’ sacrifice bunt. With the infield in, pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston, Jr. struck out before Puig cracked an RBI double to left-center, putting L.A. in front 2-1.
Chris Withrow’s eighth inning was greeted by a Pagan single, a stolen base and a walk to Scutaro. Paco Rodriguez (announced as the ‘new old pitcher’) then came in to face Belt, who bunted, moving both runners up 90 feet. Posey was then intentionally walked, loading the bases for Pence – prompting the move for Ronald Belisario out of the bullpen. On the first pitch Belisario threw, Pence grounded into a 6-3, inning-ending double play (facilitated by a great pick from Gonzalez at first), preserving the Dodgers’ 2-1 lead.
After the Dodgers were held in check by Javier Lopez and Sandy Rosario in the eighth, it was up to Kenley Jansen to lock down the win in the ninth. Sandoval’s leadoff single ensured that things wouldn’t go smoothly – and then pinch-runner Juan Perez stole second on a pitch from Jansen that skipped past Federowicz to the backstop.
After Brandon Crawford grounded to third for the first out, keeping Perez at second, a passed ball by Federowicz advanced Perez to third after all. With the infield now drawn in, Blanco then lined an RBI single to center, scoring Perez and tying things up at 2-2. After a caught stealing attempt resulted in the second out, Hector Sanchez doubled – but Jansen recovered to retire Pagan on a fly to Puig to escape the inning.
Mark Ellis singled with one out against Santiago Casilla in the bottom of the ninth, but the Dodgers couldn’t turn it into a rally,, sending the game into extras.
Ex-Giant Brian Wilson made his first appearance against his former team in the tenth and made it through unscathed, retiring his former World Series battery mate Buster Posey on a fly to Puig and getting Pence on a comebacker to keep things tied at 2-2.
With the prospect of further extra innings looming deep into the night, Carl Crawford led off the tenth with a single against Jeremy Affeldt. Punto bunted him to second, putting the winning run in scoring position with one out – and Gonzalez provided some heroics with a game-winning RBI single to center, plating Crawford and making Brian Wilson the winning pitcher.
- After the game, Mattingly called his seventh-inning bullpen mix-up a ‘Freudian slip’, and championed Gonzalez’s clutch hit, saying “Adrian’s been steady. He’s been the guy hitting, the guy driving in runs, the glue that kept us hanging around” for most of the season.
- Mattingly also said that Hanley Ramirez’s hamstring injury seems to be the same issue that he dealt with earlier in the season, and that he noticed something was wrong after Ramirez’s slow run to first on a groundout. He’s presumably day-to-day, as Mattingly didn’t have an answer as to his availability for tomorrow’s game.
- With the victory, the Dodgers’ magic number was reduced to five games. They’ll try to shave off another number tomorrow night, when Clayton Kershaw (14-8, 1.92 ERA) takes on Madison Bumgarner (11-9, 2.82 ERA) at 7:10 p.m. PDT.