Tim Hudson and Bruce Bochy see no particular reason why the San Francisco Giants are dominating the Los Angeles Dodgers this season. After another successful outing on another sizzling day in Chavez Ravine, the right-hander and his manager are just glad this one-sided rivalry has put the Giants in position to climb back on top of the NL West. Justin Maxwell and Brandon Belt hit two-run homers and the Giants trimmed the Dodgers’ division lead to a half-game with a 6-2 victory Saturday. Hudson pitched six-hit ball into the seventh inning and had a key single for the Giants, who have won five straight over their archrivals and nine of 11 this season. ”It’s nice to win any time here, but especially this year with such a tight race with these guys,”
Hudson said after his second career victory at Dodger Stadium. ”Fortunately we’ve been able to play some good baseball against these guys when we need it. We’d love to be in first place, and we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position to do that.” Los Angeles (38-31) has been alone in first place since May 30, but San Francisco (38-32) could reclaim the top spot with a series sweep Sunday. Hudson (5-6) yielded two walks and struck out three, bouncing back after allowing back-to-back homers to Joc Pederson and Justin Turner in a rocky first inning. He singled with two outs in the fifth, allowing Maxwell to deliver the tiebreaking homer. ”He’s amazing at his age to go out there on a hot day and give us an effort like that,” Bochy said of the 39-year-old Hudson. ”I can’t explain it. We’ve pitched well. We’ve got timely hits. … But there’s a lot of baseball left. Going to be a tough division. L.A., they’re the team to beat, but we’re going to come in here and try to play well.” Maxwell and Belt connected against Carlos Frias (4-5), who gave up six runs and five hits. While the Giants are surging, the Dodgers have lost six of eight. ”In a big sense, it’s probably going to go through those guys, and we’re going to have to find a way to get it done,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ”We have a half-game lead in the division, but they’ve basically gained seven games on us in the games that we’ve played against them. So obviously, that’s something that we have to be able to change.”
The Giants went up 2-0 in the first, but Pederson put a shot deep into the visiting bullpen for his 18th homer and his first since June 3, when he homered in his fifth straight game. When Turner connected for the second straight day, the hitting-poor Dodgers had their first back-to-back homers since April 19. Frias retired nine consecutive Giants until Hudson singled and Maxwell put a two-strike homer into the bleachers in left, snapping his 2-for-19 skid. Belt then dropped a long fly barely over the wall in right in the sixth for his ninth homer. Right fielder Yasiel Puig could have had a shot to steal it, but lost it in the sun.
If the San Francisco Giants didn’t have the Los Angeles Dodgers to contend with in the NL West, they might be in first place and defending a division title along with their latest World Series. But if they didn’t have the Dodgers to beat up on, they might be under .500 and chasing Arizona.
If they continue their dominance in the series Sunday night at Dodger Stadium, they’ll no longer be looking up at anyone in the standings and can celebrate a series feat that last happened with the help of possibly Willie Mays’ greatest season.
After Saturday’s 6-2 win, San Francisco (38-32) has taken nine of 11 from the Dodgers (38-31) and is in position to grab first place for the first time since May 29 with a second straight three-game sweep of Los Angeles.
Tim Lincecum needs to be better on the road to keep that pitching going. Lincecum (7-3, 3.31 ERA) is 2-1 with a 4.88 ERA and 5.46 walks per nine innings rate in six away outings. Probably the worst of those came at Dodger Stadium as the right-hander gave up four runs and eight hits in four innings of an 8-3 loss on April 27.
He’s 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 13 starts there. Yasiel Puig is 10 for 17 against the two-time NL Cy Young winner, but Jimmy Rollins is 7 for 43.
Lincecum is up against Brett Anderson, who’s deserving better than his results. Anderson (2-4, 3.43) gave up two runs and eight hits in eight innings of Tuesday’s 3-2 loss in Texas. The left-hander wasn’t stuck with the decision but is 0-3 with a 3.38 ERA in his last seven starts.
He’s winless in his last six at home despite a 3.28 ERA. Where he deserves his record, however, is against San Francisco, going 0-4 with a 5.67 ERA in six career starts, three of which have come this year.
Brandon Crawford (5 for 6) and Nori Aoki (4 for 6) have seen Anderson well, but he might not have to face the latter. Aoki left Saturday’s game getting hit by a pitch on the ankle.
That opened the door for replacement Justin Maxwell to hit a two-run homer, which Brandon Belt duplicated, while Crawford was 2 for 3 and is batting .452 in the season series.
The Dodgers have scored seven runs on the five-game series skid, and two of those have come in the last two games on homers from Justin Turner. The third baseman has homered three times in five games and five times in his last five home games against the Giants.