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What we learned as Bellinger's late grand slam dooms Giants

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Sam Long

LOS ANGELES -- For the second consecutive night, there was a grand slam at Dodger Stadium. This time it buried the Giants.

Sam Long hung an 0-2 curveball to Cody Bellinger with two outs in the bottom of the eighth Friday night and the struggling outfielder yanked it just inside the foul pole in right, breaking open a game the Dodgers, who would go on to win 5-1 when closer Craig Kimbrel worked around some trouble in the ninth. The Giants took momentum into the All-Star break but have dropped both games here at Dodger Stadium. 

For a few minutes in the first inning, the Giants looked headed for a blowout. Logan Webb completely lost his command for a stretch and was wobbling, but he worked his way out of a jam and managed to keep the Giants in the game. They tied it in the fourth, but there wasn't much action from either side until late. 

The Giants got two on in the top of the eighth and manager Gabe Kapler made one of his bolder pinch-hit decisions since taking over in San Francisco. When the Dodgers turned to lefty Alex Vesia, Kapler inserted rookie David Villar for Brandon Belt, hoping to get a platoon advantage. Villar grounded out softly to second. 

The Dodgers stuck with their lefty bats against lefty Long in the bottom of the inning and loaded the bases on a single, error and hit-by-pitch. It looked like their strategy might backfire when Bellinger looked helpless in falling behind 0-2, but Long made one mistake and that was all it took. The homer was Bellinger's first on an 0-2 pitch in nearly two years. 

 

Settling Down

Webb's night got off to a very weird start. With a runner on second and two outs in the first, Webb issued three consecutive walks, including one to Gavin Lux that consisted of four noncompetitive pitches and brought in a run. He walked another in the second and allowed a hit before getting Trea Turner to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

Webb had not walked more than three batters in a start this season and all the early free passes led him to 51 pitches through two innings. And yet, there he was in the sixth, taking the mound at 94 pitches. He retired Max Muncy, Lux and Jake Lamb in order and returned to the dugout, where Kapler was waiting with a big handshake and teammates formed a line to offer hugs and high-fives.

Webb wasn't anywhere close to his best, but he allowed just one run. He has now thrown at least six innings in eight consecutive starts. 

Whatever Works

It's not often that Kapler is caught laughing in the dugout, but he couldn't help himself after Yermin Mercedes ... well after he did whatever this was:

The push bunt attempt came with runners on the corners and two outs, and two pitches later Mercedes took a more traditional swing and lined a fastball into right to tie the game. Mercedes started the night in left field and had a bobble that allowed a runner to advance an extra base, but the Giants don't have him in there for his glove. They want his bat against left-handed pitching, and he currently has a .758 OPS in orange and black.

Problem Solved?

Tyler Rogers faced the Dodgers seven times last year and allowed six runs, and the damage would have been worse if not for Mike Tauchman. But Rogers hasn't had any issues with them this year, even as his overall numbers have taken a dip.

Rogers took over for Webb in the seventh and worked around a one-out single from Trayce Thompson. He got Mookie Betts to fly out and then struck out Trea Turner on three pitches, with the punchout coming on one of his trademark "rising" sliders. Rogers has faced the Dodgers twice this year and thrown three scoreless innings.