SAN FRANCISCO -- For all that went wrong for the Dodgers on Saturday -- and there was plenty -- Kenley Jansen battled out of a jam and manager Dave Roberts was hopeful that meant something good clicked for his beleaguered closer.
A team that is 2-6 for its worst start since 1976 must settle for the small victories, especially in the wake of this 7-5 loss to the Giants on a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the 14th inning by Andrew McCutchen on the 12th Wilmer Font pitch of the at-bat. It was McCutchen's sixth hit of the game and the Dodgers' fourth consecutive loss.
"It's a tough one," said Roberts. "We came up on the short end again. McCutchen that last at-bat, a couple seeing-eye hits off Font to set that inning up and McCutchen finished us off."
Yes, Font again drew the loss, as he did in the 15th inning in Arizona, as the Dodgers used up every reliever and every bench player for the second time in four games, along with starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw (with two on in the 14th) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (with the bases loaded in the 12th) as pinch-hitters, both striking out. The only Dodger on the 25-man roster that did not play was Alex Wood, and he had been sent back to the hotel sick.
Font was the ninth reliever to follow starter Rich Hill, who was removed after four innings, having allowed a two-run homer to Buster Posey for a 3-1 deficit. Roberts hit for Hill with Matt Kemp (who popped out) with two on and one out in the fifth.
In the sixth, the Dodgers scored on a passed ball and a groundout to tie the game at 3. In the seventh, Chase Utley homered to tie the game at 4. And in the top of the 14th, John Forsythe shot one by third baseman Evan Longoria to give the Dodgers a 5-4 lead after singles by Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger.
Despite the offense generating five runs, the Dodgers went 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15. As a team, they are batting .206.
"That's five runs in 14 innings," Roberts pointed out. "The at-bat quality, it needs to get better. We're not putting those relentless at-bats together consistently as we've seen.
"We've got to have better at-bats in those situations. If you look at those situations, we went out of the strike zone quite a bit. To their credit, they didn't give in. It's cat and mouse, who's going to be more stubborn in the strike zone. We've been impatient, very uncharacteristic."
What was characteristic of last year was the work of the bullpen. Prior to Font, Dodgers relievers threw nine innings, allowing one run with 12 strikeouts and no walks. Hill added six strikeouts for a total of 18.
Jansen pitched the 12th, brought into a non-save situation by Roberts to face the most dangerous part of San Francisco's lineup. He allowed singles to Joe Panik and McCutchen, then got Posey on a flyout, Longoria on a strikeout and Hunter Pence on a flyout.
"On Hunter Pence, I felt much better, like I'm staying more behind the ball," said Jansen, who has traced velocity dips in the past to not keeping his hand behind the ball during release. "That's how I generate power. Once I feel it, it's going to be fun again."
Jansen's velocity was mostly 90-91 mph, but hit 92 mph on several pitches.
"Four runs, noise, I just got to block it out," he said. "Pence was a big out. That kind of rises me to the top, get more momentum and energy. I'm not a quitter, I always compete. Not trying to put too much thinking about it."
Jansen knows that as he goes, so go the Dodgers.
"Maybe this is a good test for us," he said. "We're 2-6, April always been like this for us. Got to stay positive, that's what I do. Not going to win a division in April, going to win in September."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Silver Fox delivers: Utley doubled in the third inning and scored to tie the game at 1 on Chris Taylor's single. In the seventh, Utley led off with a home run off Sam Dyson that tied the game at 4.
Maeda reprises relief role:Sent to the bullpen because of scheduling quirks, Kenta Maeda gave the Dodgers a tense but scoreless seventh inning. Austin Jackson greeted him with a double and one out later, McCutchen reached on an infield single to third. But Maeda struck out Posey and Longoria to keep the tie intact.
"The starter for the next day, you really want to stay away from. If something unforeseen happens you really put yourself in a bind. He was our only option." -- Roberts, on using Sunday starting pitcher Kershaw to pinch-hit
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers have lost 22 of the last 33 games they've played at AT&T Park.
Neither rainouts nor off-days will keep Kershaw from pitching every five days, as he gets the call on regular rest in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. PT series finale against the Giants. Kershaw is coming off a loss in Arizona where he allowed home runs to David Peralta and Daniel Descalso. The Giants beat him on Opening Day in Los Angeles, 1-0, on a Panik home run.
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