Giants notes: On hot night in LA, McCutchen gets enough carry to tie the game

Giants notes: On hot night in LA, McCutchen gets enough carry to tie the game

LOS ANGELES -- Andrew McCutchen claims he's never really up at the plate looking for a home run. Even in the situation Wednesday, with the Giants trailing by three and two on ahead of him, he was just thinking about having a good at-bat. This one turned into a great one. 

The Giants fell 4-3 in extra innings, but McCutchen was the one who made sure this night got extended. He had one of his best moments as a Giant, smoking a three-run shot to center off Caleb Ferguson to tie the game in the eighth. The homer was McCutchen's 14th. He said he briefly thought it might be just a long fly ball. 

"I've played in San Francisco all year," he said. "You hit the ball pretty good sometimes and it doesn't go out. I was hoping it would carry out."

On a hot night at Dodger Stadium, this ball did, providing one of two big highlights on an otherwise sour night. The other came from Gorkys Hernandez, who threw Brian Dozier out at the plate with a 94.9 mph strike from center field. Dozier was initially ruled safe. 

"I saw Buster point to the dugout to try to review the play," Hernandez said. "When I saw the umpires go right to the side to see the replay, I said, we're going to have a good chance."

The Giants usually have it right in those situations. They're now 17-for-22 on replays, the best mark in the league. 

--- Here, in the game story, I wrote on a missed opportunity. 

--- If you're keeping track at home, the Giants are at .500 for the 23rd time. They have spent 72 days this season either .500, or one game above or below. 

--- In five second-half starts, Derek Holland has a 2.96 ERA, with 27 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. At some point, the focus will turn to bringing him back next season.

With a clean look at a sweep of Dodgers, Giants lineup comes up short

With a clean look at a sweep of Dodgers, Giants lineup comes up short

LOS ANGELES — About three hours before Wednesday’s game, Kenley Jansen jogged in from the visiting bullpen at a silent Dodger Stadium. He threw a simulated inning, the first step in his attempt to return from a heart scare. In the late innings, Jansen, for some reason, showed up on the steps of the press box, joking with team officials and local beat writers. 

Both times, his presence was a reminder of what the Dodgers were missing. Their closer, perhaps the best in the game, is on the sidelines, and their bullpen had no answers for three fascinating games with the Giants. The visitors took advantage twice, but on Wednesday, they fell short. 

The Dodgers once again tried to blow it, giving up three runs in the eighth, but in the 12th they prevailed on a sacrifice fly. After a 4-3 loss, Bruce Bochy turned to one of his favorite truisms. 

“Sure, you like to get greedy,” Bochy said.

The Giants very nearly finished off what would have been a standings-rattling sweep. On a night when the first-place Diamondbacks were idle and the second-place Rockies lost, they failed to pick up ground on all three teams ahead of them. Instead, for the 23rd time this season, they found the .500 mark. At 61-61, they are 5 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks and four behind the Rockies and Dodgers. 

Bochy spun the 72 hours here as a positive, not so much because the Giants took two of three, but because of how they did it.

“The comebacks we had, the way we played, I’m good with it,” he said. 

The latest comeback came courtesy of Andrew McCutchen. He got a hanging curveball in the eighth and hit a high homer to dead center, erasing a three-run deficit with one swing. But on this night, McCutchen was just about alone in the production department. 

The Giants keep playing tense games in part because they have an inability to put opponents away early. Even a would-be blowout on Friday night ended with Will Smith in the game. Against Hyun-jin Ryu and a parade of Dodgers relievers, the lineup had just six hits in 41 at-bats. The 3-4-5 hitters — Evan Longoria, Buster Posey and Gorkys Hernandez — went a combined 0-for-15. The Brandons, together in the lineup for the first time in three weeks, had two hits in 10 at-bats. Hunter Pence had three hits, McCutchen the bomb. Otherwise, it was silent. 

Perhaps that will change in Cincinnati. McCutchen, the longtime Pirate, smiled as he talked of his many games at “the Great American SmallPark.” It’s a soft landing spot for hitters, and the Giants will need to take advantage. This was a road trip where they needed to make up ground, and while there was progress in Los Angeles, there’s still a long way to go. 

“We did what we were trying to do,” starter Derek Holland said. “We’re trying to gain some ground and being able to take two out of three is good. We’ve got momentum and we’ll try to take that to Cincinnati … this road trip can be big for us, so we’ll try to win as many games as we can and hope that these (other) guys beat up on each other.”

The Giants had a chance to strike one final blow on their way out of town, but other than one swing, they came up short.

McCutchen's big home run wasted as Dodgers walk off on Giants in 12th

McCutchen's big home run wasted as Dodgers walk off on Giants in 12th

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — The Giants pulled a few escape acts in the first 11 innings Wednesday night. In the 12th, they finally went down.

Yasmani Grandal opened the bottom of the 12th with a double off Casey Kelly and Max Muncy shot a single into right. Brian Dozier hit a long sacrifice fly to center, ending a four-hour night and giving the Dodgers a 4-3 win at the end of a fascinating series. The Giants took two of three, but headed out of town back at .500, 61-61.

The Giants trailed by three heading into the eighth, but for the third time this series, the Dodgers’ bullpen imploded. This time it was Caleb Ferguson, a rookie lefty who has been good for them. Hunter Pence singled and Chase d’Arnaud walked, and Andrew McCutchen stunned a large crowd by skying a hanging curveball just over the fence in left-center, tying the game. 

The Dodgers got the winning run to second in the ninth, but they were out of position players and right-hander Kenta Maeda struck out with two outs. The Giants got the go-ahead run to third in the top of the 10th, but Brandon Belt grounded out.

Brian Dozier walked with two down in the bottom of the 10th and went to second when Justin Turner poked a single up the middle. Manny Machado, who already had three hits, nearly ended the game with a laser down the line that went just foul. After a tense battle, Mark Melancon struck him out, extending the night.  

Here are some earlier highlights … 

—- Gorkys Hernandez saved a run with a 95 mph strike from center field in the fifth. With two on, Matt Kemp hit a hard single to center and Hernandez came out firing. Dozier was initially ruled safe at the plate, but a replay overturned the call. Hernandez made a perfect throw and Buster Posey put down a quick tag. The Dodgers would leave the bases loaded. 

—- It appears Cody Bellinger doesn’t read the scouting report. Reyes Moronta has been great, but he tends to be wild early in his outings. With the bases loaded, Bellinger pinch-hit for Kiké Hernandez and swung at the first pitch, which was on the inside edge. He popped up, ending the inning. 

—- Derek Holland threw a ton of pitches early and worked through a lot of traffic, but he made it through 4 2/3 shutout innings before handing it off. Giants starters allowed just two runs in this series. 

—- Ty Blach will always have the Dodgers. He continued his dominance of them with two shutout innings, the eighth and the ninth.