LOS ANGELES -- For two days at Dodger Stadium, Alex Wood's old teammates and new ones have talked about how he would be ready for the moment.
Wood has been the Giants' stopper this year, and he was a very popular player in the clubhouse during five seasons in Los Angeles. Both sides were right. Wood was up to the task in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, and so were the Giants.
Wood took a shutout into the fifth, Evan Longoria provided a go-ahead homer, and Gabe Kapler's bold bullpen usage worked out like a charm as the Giants beat the Dodgers 1-0 in a crucial Game 3. Rookie Camilo Doval recorded an impressive six-out save to seal the win.
The Giants have taken a two-games-to-one lead in the series with the knowledge that, at the very worst, they are turning things over to Logan Webb back home, where he hasn't lost all year.
The Giants will first try to take care of business on the road. Both managers said before the game that their Game 4 starters were TBD because they wanted to see how Monday night went, and the teams ended up playing a nail-biter.
Longoria's blast off Max Scherzer was the difference, at least offensively. The next biggest play of the night came from Brandon Crawford, whose leaping grab of a Mookie Betts liner with two outs in the seventh saved a run and preserved the lead.
That kept a spotless night intact for the bullpen, which built off Wood's good early work. The Giants improved to 13-1 this season when Wood starts a game after a loss. He wants the ball in those situations, and on Monday night he once again delivered.
With Johnny Cueto off the active roster, Wood has more big-game experience than anyone on the staff, although 18 of his previous 20 playoff outings were as a reliever. Almost all of those innings came for the Dodgers over his five seasons in blue, and he took a 3.55 postseason ERA into Monday's game. The Giants had all the faith in the world in his ability to compete against a tough righty-heavy lineup, and Wood delivered.
He allowed just two hits over 4 2/3 innings, both coming from 41-year-old Albert Pujols. Wood walked two and struck out four before being lifted with a runner on in the fifth.
It was Wood's relief outings last October for the Dodgers that helped convince Farhan Zaidi to bring him to San Francisco. In his first playoff appearance for the Giants, Wood was out-dueling Scherzer when Kapler decided to go to the pen.
Before Monday night's game, Tyler Rogers had entered before the sixth inning just once in his big league career, and that was in a seven-inning game. But the biggest game of the year calls for bold moves, and with a runner on first and two outs in the fifth, Rogers replaced Wood.
Betts was due up and Kapler wanted Rogers to face the top of the order, not just for the rest of that inning but moving forward. He got Betts to ground out sharply to short and then came back out for the sixth.
Trea Turner lined out and Corey Seager grounded out before Justin Turner's single to right. Chris Taylor hit a liner to right-center that the wind caught and pushed to the warning track, but Steven Duggar, making his first start of the series, tracked it down.
Rogers came out for the seventh and got the first out, but Steven Souza Jr. and Will Smith chased him with back-to-back singles. He ended up throwing 29 pitches over 1 2/3 innings, the second-highest total of his career.
Longoria was hitless in the Division Series and 1-for-35 overall going back to the regular season when he stepped up in the fifth inning. It would not have been unreasonable for Kapler to sit Longoria and put Kris Bryant at third base, but Longoria's glove is valuable, and the coaching staff didn't believe he was as lost as those numbers might indicate.
Longoria fell behind 0-2 while leading off the fifth against Scherzer, who was his Cy Young self and struck out 10 in seven innings. When Scherzer's four-seamer caught too much of the plate, Longoria blasted a solo shot to left for the game's first run. The homer was Longoria's 10th in the postseason but first since the 2013 ALDS, when he was the star of the Tampa Bay Rays.