Bochy: 'Tonight was definitely bad luck how the game went'
Yasiel Puig finished the night 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. He's now hitting .442 on the season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
LOS ANGELES – When you’re beset by injuries, and the Giants are going through ice faster these days than Don Draper, sometimes your most noble hope is to keep treading water.
The Giants are back at sea level, all right.
After a 3-1 loss at Dodger Stadium, the Giants are a .500 team for the first time since they began the season 3-3. Not only did their offense fail and flail all night for clutch hits, but in scoring their lone run, they also lost another player to the trainer’s room.
Joaquin Arias came up lame with a strained left hamstring after scoring from first base on Andres Torres’ double in the second inning. Brandon Crawford replaced Arias at shortstop to start the second inning.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy had given Arias the start because he didn’t want to expose Crawford to a left-handed pitcher, Hyun-Jin Ryu, so soon after coming back from his sprained fingers. Wouldn’t you know it? Crawford twice batted with the bases loaded. He flied out to strand three in the third inning, then tapped back to Ryu for a 1-2-3 double play in the fifth.
Madison Bumgarner gave up a home run to Yasiel Puig in the first inning but held firm all the way until the eighth. That’s when Nick Punto doubled, Bumgarner made a high throw after fielding a sacrifice bunt, then Puig – the Dodgers’ new star attraction -- singled in the go-ahead run off George Kontos.
Starting pitching report
The Giants had every reason to be confident with Bumgarner on the mound. The left-hander entered with a three-start winning streak in which he had a 2.37 ERA and held opponents to a .159 average.
He also owned a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings over the Dodgers, going eight innings at Dodger Stadium on April 2 and also blanking them over eight in his final start against them last season.
And he might have had some extra steam left in his nostrils from his last start, when he threw behind the Padres’ Jesus Guzman and both benches cleared.
Sure enough, Bumgarner was close to impenetrable – for everyone besides Puig.
The Dodgers phenom hit his seventh home run in his 20th big league game, reaching out for a two-strike fastball and driving it over the short wall in the right field corner – a shot that hearkened back to Mike Piazza in his prime.
Bumgarner retired 16 of his next 17 batters – and didn’t allow another hit until Puig muscled a ground ball through the right side with two out in the sixth.
Through six innings, Puig was 2 for 3 with a home run against Bumgarner; the rest of the Dodgers were 0 for 17 with a walk.
The Dodgers were able to generate some traffic after that, though. Bumgarner had to work out of a jam in the seventh after Hanley Ramirez led off with an infield single on what appeared to be a blown call by first base umpire Gary Cederstrom. Bumgarner got A.J. Ellis to ground out to strand two runners.
But the Dodgers threatened again in the eighth after Punto doubled and Mark Ellis put down a bunt that Bumgarenr fielded to the third base side of the mound. Bumgarner’s last act was a high throw that pulled Marco Scutaro off first base.
Bumgarner (7-5) threw 70 of 111 pitches for strikes but lost for the first time since June 1.
What a way to be welcomed back to the big leagues. George Kontos, who joined the club from Triple-A Fresno earlier in the day, entered with a tie score, runners at the corners, no outs and baseball’s biggest phenomenon at the plate.
There’s little secret Kontos will throw his slider in these situations. He missed with the first one before missing worse with the 1-0 pitch. It was over the plate and Puig lined it just past Crawford’s diving reach for an RBI single.
Javier Lopez retired his only hitter but threw a wild pitch, and Hanley Ramirez followed with a hard-hit RBI "ground out" that Crawford almost caught.
Instead, the ball squirted out of his glove, and although Crawford was able to throw to first for the out, Mark Ellis scored an insurance run to make it 3-1.
At the plate
The Giants have hit just one homer over their last 10 games and they aren’t doing such a wonderful job manufacturing runs, either.
They lacked the clutch hit against Ryu, who held them to a run despite allowing 12 baserunners in his 6 2/3 innings.
Double-play grounders killed them, especially Crawford’s tapper back to the mound with the bases loaded to start a 1-2-3 twin killing in the fifth inning. Crawford flied out to strand the bases loaded in the third, too.
Their only run against Ryu came in the second inning, when Arias reached on a fielder’s choice and then sprinted around the bases on Andres Torres’ double into the left field corner. Jerry Hairston Jr. had trouble picking it up but third base coach Tim Flannery was sending Arias in any event. It was only after Arias slid across the plate and got back to his feet that it became apparent he was in discomfort.
He limped back to the dugout as trainers attended to him.
Torres’ five errors are the most by a left fielder in the majors, but he’s capable of brilliance as well. That much was evident Monday, as he made a pair of sliding catches on Hairston Jr. and A.J. Ellis to end the fourth and fifth innings, respectively.
Crawford also contributed a deft pickup of a short-hop grounder and made a quick transfer and strong throw moments after replacing Arias at shortstop in the second inning.
And hey, first baseman Brandon Belt made a great throw across the diamond to get Puig trying to go from first to third on a ground out. It came after the Giants already recorded the third out in the inning, but who’s counting? (Belt had to continue the play because he couldn’t assume he’d get the call on a bang-bang force play at first base.)
The Dodgers announced 40,994 paid. How long before they re-christen Mannywood as the Puig Pen?
The Giants and Dodgers continue their three-game series at Chavez Ravine. Left-hander Mike Kickham (0-1, 15.43 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Stephen Fife (1-2, 3.25). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PDT.