Giants stay in hunt with another last-at-bat win

August 15th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- The Giants pulled themselves away from ringside to record their second final-at-bat victory over the Dodgers in two days, a 2-1 decision Tuesday that left the winners talking more seriously than ever about contending for a postseason spot.

Starting at shortstop for , who rested to nurse the aches and pains he sustained in his collision with left fielder , drove in both San Francisco runs with two-out singles, including the hit that sent home the go-ahead run off with the score tied, 1-1, in the ninth.

The Giants staged their rally two innings after their catcher, Nick Hundley, and Dodgers outfielder emptied both teams' dugouts and bullpens with a brief, physical skirmish at home plate. Fighting is nothing new to the Giants, who have clawed and scratched all season to stay on the fringes of postseason contention.

The Giants (61-60) climbed back above .500 and, in the process, heightened their anticipation for a strong stretch run. They still trail first-place Arizona by five games in the National League West standings, but they continued to pester the Dodgers, who lost their fifth consecutive game.

"We've always thought we were right in it," said left-hander Will Smith, who converted his third save opportunity in as many days.

Facing Maeda, Hanson kept in mind that Dodgers pitchers maintained the same approach to him all night. "They were throwing me off-speed stuff and fastballs late in the count," Hanson said through interpreter Erwin Higueros.

So after Maeda missed with a curveball and a changeup, Hanson knew he would get a fastball. He did, and ripped it into center field on a hop. , activated from the disabled list shortly before the game began, raced home. That is, he ran as fast as he could for a man who had missed 17 games with an injured right leg.

"I kind of felt like I was running underwater," Belt said.

Fortunately for him and the Giants, the throw came home a little wide, allowing Belt to score.

Earlier, the Giants received an encouraging effort from , who shook off a brief slump to blank the Dodgers for six innings on just two hits.

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Suarez left the bases loaded in the first inning when he coaxed 's comebacker. That seemed to empower Suarez, who retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced.

Suarez had looked somewhat dull lately, posting a 1-3 record with a 7.43 ERA while allowing seven home runs in his previous five starts. This time, the bite was back in his curveball and the life returned to his fastball.

Suarez attributed his improvement to a mechanical adjustment. "I stayed closed with my front shoulder. That helped me get on top of the ball and keep it down," he said.

Los Angeles had pulled even with two outs in the eighth against Sam Dyson as doubled and came home on Manny Machado's single.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Belt's ninth-inning single often would get overlooked. But not by the Giants. It followed 's leadoff single and thus gave the Giants momentum. It also was Belt's first at-bat after missing 17 games with a hyperextended right knee.

SOUND SMART

Hanson plays sporadically, but also effectively. In 15 games since July 27, he's batting .317 (13-for-41) with three runs, two doubles, two triples and seven RBIs.

UP NEXT

, the Giants' probable starter for Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. PT series finale at Los Angeles, has struggled against the Dodgers. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in three starts this year against Los Angeles. In two career starts at Dodger Stadium, he's 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA. Holland will be opposed by Dodgers lefty .