SAN FRANCISCO — The smell of garlic fries hadn’t even begun its nightly evolution from enticing to cloying. Late arrivers to McCovey Cove were still paddling. The ‘Beat LA’ chants never got started.
Trea Turner led off the game with a home run and the Dodgers scored three times in the first inning, never trailing in a 6-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants Saturday night at Oracle Park.
The two rivals are together again, tied atop the NL West with the best record in baseball. They will meet for the final time this season on Sunday — unless the postseason (or postseason seeding) demands an encore.
“It doesn’t matter if I made five errors yesterday, had five strikeouts or hit five home runs. It don’t matter,” said Trea Turner whose leadoff home run came on the heels of his throwing error that ended Friday night’s 11-inning loss. “The next day is a new day. Nothing is promised, success or failure. You’ve got to roll with it. For me I just try to move on as quick as possible, whether it’s good or bad.
“We won today. We lost yesterday. So today is a better day than yesterday.”
Their rotation depleted by injury and illness, the Giants turned to a bullpen game for Saturday’s matchup. They were on to their second pitcher before retiring two Dodgers.
After Turner’s leadoff homer, Max Muncy struck out — one of three for him in the game and part of a 19-for-101 (.188) slump since the start of August.
But Mookie Betts and Justin Turner drew back-to-back walks then pulled off a double steal, putting Betts in position to score on Corey Seager’s sacrifice fly. AJ Pollock doubled Turner in to make it 3-0 after the first six batters of the game, nearly matching the Dodgers’ average over the previous 14 games (3.4 runs per game) as the offense slumped.
“It’s pretty obvious. You just look at our career numbers individually and what we’re capable of,” Trea Turner said. “When you’ve got a lot of guys in the lineup that can get on base and drive the baseball at the same time, you should be able to put a lot of runs up. When you play good teams you’re going to face good pitching and sometimes it doesn’t go your way. But today I think was a picture of what we can do for the rest of the year.”
They’ll have to do it without a key component for at least the next two weeks.
Pollock was picked off by Giants lefty Jarlin Garcia and stumbled as he tried to slide into third. Pollock had to be helped off the field and left the game with a strained right hamstring. He missed three weeks earlier this season with a left hamstring injury.
“I don’t want to speculate. I know that it wasn’t good. Obviously it’s a huge loss,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “From what I’m hearing early on, it’s a Grade 2 strain. … I think at the minimum it’s going to be a couple weeks.”
Given a lead to protect, Dodgers starter Julio Urias spent the next six innings giving the Giants hope — then taking it away.
The Giants had runners in scoring position in five of the first six innings against Urias but pushed just one run across on a two-out double by Buster Posey in the first inning.
Urias stranded runners at second and third that inning, at second in the third inning, second and third again in the fourth and second in the fifth.
Urias left the game, appropriately enough, with another runner in scoring position in the sixth — Posey after his third hit of the game. Alex Vesia took care of that, stranding Posey when he struck out Mauricio Dubon to end the inning.
The Dodgers had just three hits after the first inning — though one was a solo home run by Seager.
But the early lead held up because the Giants left nine runners on base in the game (26 in the first two games of the series), seven in scoring position in the first six innings Saturday alone.
The ability to strand runners has been a key thread in the Dodgers’ pitching staff’s success over the past five weeks. Since the start of August, Dodgers pitchers have held opposing batters to a stingy .106 average (24 for 226) with runners in scoring position.
The Dodgers have also held the National League leaders in home runs (the Giants) without one in the first two games of this series.
“It’s certainly executing pitches when it gets hot, when they need to make pitches,” Roberts said. “Like I’ve said — Mark Prior, Josh Bard, Danny Lehman, Connor McGuiness do such a fantastic job, the run-prevention guys. And obviously with the two catchers, Austin and Will … they’ve done a fantastic job.
“Where we’ve kind of been in this little funk offensively, being able to prevent runs and certainly with runners in scoring position has been the key to our success so far.”