LOS ANGELES -- The Giants intensified the process of making the unlikely look commonplace Monday as they surged past the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-2.
Pinch-hitter Nick Hundley's bases-loaded, two-run single highlighted a four-run, ninth-inning outburst that erased a 2-1 deficit and improved the Giants to 8-6 against the Dodgers this year. More importantly for the Giants, they climbed back into the .500 level (60-60) and narrowed the gap between themselves and first-place Arizona in the National League West standings to five games.
"We have to win games like this to be where we want to be," said Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who shared center stage with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for most of the evening as they collaborated in a classic pitchers' duel. Bumgarner departed after the sixth inning with the Giants trailing, 2-1, and the score remained the same when Kershaw finished his eight-inning stint.
With injured closer Kenley Jansen unavailable, the Dodgers entrusted their ninth-inning lead to left-hander Scott Alexander, who coaxed Andrew McCutchen's groundout with his first pitch.
Then Chase d'Arnaud and Buster Posey lined singles. Evan Longoria forced out Posey, but he beat the relay to first base, preventing a game-ending double play. Alexander hit Austin Slater with a pitch to load the bases.
Up came Hundley, who whistled the first pitch into center field as d'Arnaud and Longoria scored.
"I know he's trying to get ahead [in the count], with the bases loaded and the tying run at third," said Hundley, who's batting .417 (5-for-12) with one home run and six RBIs as a pinch-hitter. "You're afforded the luxury of being aggressive in that spot, based on his approach."
Gorkys Hernandez added an RBI single before first baseman Player Page for Max Muncy's fielding error handed the Giants their final run.
Earlier, Bumgarner collaborated with Kershaw on another chapter of what could end up being a career-long saga, featuring the talented left-handers and their compelling matchups.
This marked the 11th time Bumgarner and Kershaw started against each other. Monday's outcome broke a 5-5 tie in the category that surely matters most to both men: team victories.
To lead the Giants to a win, Bumgarner knew he'd have to perform at his best, since Kershaw was his mound opponent.
"You know going into the game that you're not going to concede runs, because he probably isn't going to give up any," Bumgarner said.
Bad luck charted the course of Bumgarner's evening to a considerable extent. Kershaw shattered a scoreless tie with a fourth-inning RBI double that was nothing more n a popup down the left-field line. But this innocuous-looking fly could have ruined the Giants' night, as it prompted a collision between shortstop Brandon Crawford and left fielder Hernandez as they pursued the ball. Crawford left the game for precautionary reasons and was not believed to be seriously injured.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Some of the proverbial little things that fueled the Giants' ninth-inning rally included:
• d'Arnaud's single, which came on the heels of strikeouts in his first three at-bats.
• Slater being hit by a pitch after falling behind on the count 0-2.
• Hundley staying hot. He legged out a two-run triple in Sunday's 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh.
HE SAID IT
"It's kind of must-see TV. It's one of those games where the best in the world are playing." -- Hundley, on the Bumgarner-Kershaw matchup.
Rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez will make his 21st start overall in Los Angeles and first of the season against the Dodgers at 7:10 PT. He has lost each of his last two outings, amassing just 10 innings while yielding 11 earned runs. Suarez is 2-4 with a 5.61 ERA in 10 road starts. He will oppose Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood.