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Giants' comeback effort stalls vs. Dodgers

Ethier's catch looms large; SF can't take advantage of shaky Greinke

LOS ANGELES -- At a glance, the Giants' performance Wednesday night was as lopsided as the final score. Following Brandon Crawford's two-run, fourth-inning homer, 18 of San Francisco's last 20 hitters were retired in its 7-3 setback against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yet the Giants actually created chances to generate what would have been an unlikely comeback against the Dodgers, who captured two of the series' three games, and Zack Greinke, the Los Angeles starter who improved his lifetime record against the Giants to 6-0.

For instance, it was easy to forget that before Los Angeles went on its power trip with four home runs off Ryan Vogelsong, the Giants actually opened the scoring in their half of the first inning and stranded a pair of runners, spoiling an opportunity to saddle the Dodgers with a larger deficit.

Video: SF@LAD: Belt's RBI single gives Giants early lead

The Giants endured more frustration one inning later. With Nori Aoki on first base, Crawford on second and two outs, Joe Panik drilled Greinke's 0-1 changeup toward the right-center-field gap for an apparent extra-base hit that would have scored two runs, narrowed Los Angeles' lead to 4-3 and altered momentum. Instead, Andre Ethier caught up with the drive and made a lunging catch in front of the warning track.

Said Panik, "He made a very nice play. A big play, especially at the time -- 4-3 instead of 4-1, that's the difference-maker."

Video: SF@LAD: Ethier robs Panik with terrific diving catch

Brandon Belt, who singled home the Giants' first-inning run, doubled with two outs in the third but was marooned. Crawford's team-high fourth homer lifted the Giants' hopes in the fourth, but that would be their last hit.

Comparatively speaking, the Giants fared well against Greinke, who lasted six innings. They exceeded two runs off him for the first time since his initial start against them on May 4, 2012. Their seven hits also matched their best against him.

Asked whether he felt disappointed not to take advantage of Greinke's relative vulnerability, Vogelsong replied, "I'm not disappointed. I'm [ticked] off about it. He definitely wasn't on top of his game. To his credit, he stayed in there and did what he needed to do."

The Dodgers established control in the first inning as Joc Pederson, Adrian Gonzalez and Ethier homered. Vogelsong not only yielded three home runs in an inning for the first time in his career, but also became the first Giants pitcher to surrender that many homers in an inning since Matt Cain did so in the fourth on April 29, 2013, at Arizona. Jimmy Rollins added a leadoff homer in Vogelsong's third and final inning, helping his ERA climb to 9.31.

Despite the ugly statistics, Vogelsong will remain in San Francisco's starting rotation.

"Right now, we need him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We'll talk as always, but it's tough when you have two other starters [Matt Cain and Jake Peavy] on the disabled list."

Thus ended a two-city trip in which the Giants finished 2-3 and their starting pitchers recorded a 6.59 ERA, despite Madison Bumgarner's Tuesday night gem here.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
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