LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers won’t have a playoff spot clinched by the end of next week after all — even with the expanded postseason field.
After lopsided wins on the first two days of this delayed (and abbreviated) season, it looked like the Dodgers would run roughshod over the National League West. To that point, they had beaten the San Francisco Giants in six consecutive meetings (stretching back to last September) by a combined score of 42-4. Even with a close loss in Saturday’s game, the Dodgers had scored runs off 11 different Giants pitchers in the first three games of this season-opening series at empty Dodger Stadium.
But Gabe Kapler kept playing a shell game with his starters and crowd-sourcing his relievers and came away with a split of the season-opening series with one of his former employers. The Giants used seven pitchers to tame the Dodgers lineup Sunday night, holding them to seven hits in a 3-1 win.
The Dodgers lost on back-to-back days at home just five times all last season while going an NL-best 59-22 at home.
The Giants didn’t have an extra-base hit. But they saved three of their nine singles for run-scoring situations, starting with Darin Ruf’s one-out RBI single in the third inning off Dodgers starter Julio Urias.
Urias scraped his way through five fitful innings. He had runners on in every inning, walked three and needed 78 pitches to get through five innings. But he did hold the Giants to 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
The Dodgers matched that in the third inning when Mookie Betts singled, stole second and scored on a Cody Bellinger single — a sequence that could be repeated many times in the future.
But there wasn’t much more noise from the Dodgers’ offense in this one. Kapler picked through the “data points” to six relievers to the mound, most sticking around only for the three-batter minimum.
Side-armer Tyler Rogers was the only one to find any trouble. He survived a seventh inning that featured back-to-back singles by Justin Turner and Bellinger and a hit batter, loading the bases with two outs before getting Kike’ Hernandez to bounce out.
The game’s only extra-base hit — a leadoff double by A.J. Pollock — didn’t come until the bottom of the ninth but it did bring the tying run to the plate for the Dodgers three times. Trevor Gott retired Will Smith, Betts and Max Muncy to earn the save.
The Giants, meanwhile, took the lead on a two-out RBI single by Mauricio Dubon in the sixth off lefty reliever Adam Kolarek and expanded it with another two-out single by Donovan Solano in the seventh off Pedro Baez.