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.