SAN FRANCISCO -- Expect drama when the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers tangle. The longtime rivals engaged in another compelling confrontation Monday night, as the Giants limited Los Angeles to four hits and withstood late Dodgers rallies to prevail, 2-1.The Giants entered the opener of this four-game series
SAN FRANCISCO -- Expect drama when the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers tangle. The longtime rivals engaged in another compelling confrontation Monday night, as the Giants limited Los Angeles to four hits and withstood late Dodgers rallies to prevail, 2-1.
The Giants entered the opener of this four-game series having lost six of their previous seven games. However, starter Player Page for Matt Cain worked six shutout innings to claim his first victory over Los Angeles since May 5, 2013, with assistance on defense from catcher Buster Posey and third baseman Christian Arroyo, who made his Major League debut.
Cain, who has relied largely on sinking, two-seam fastballs in recent outings, said that he mixed his deliveries more frequently this time, with Posey's guidance.
"Buster did a great job of really mixing things up, keeping those guys off balance," said Cain, who departed at the top of the seventh due to a tight right hamstring. "I don't think we had a scenario where we were very predictable."
"We're at our best when the pitching's there and the defense is there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's our strength and it's gotten away from us."
Joe Panik accounted for San Francisco's offense by lofting a second-inning sacrifice fly before singling and scoring in the seventh. Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-4) entered the game with a 5.87 ERA but yielded just one run and five hits in six innings.
The Dodgers had the tying run thrown out at second base by Posey in the eighth and ninth innings -- Chris Taylor caught stealing to end the eighth inning with Corey Seager at the plate and Justin Turner caught off second base to end the game with Adrian Gonzalez at the plate.
"These are two winning teams in recent years," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "Yeah, we're both under .500. But those guys aren't going to quit, we certainly aren't, there was a lot of focus tonight. You even see the excitement from [Giants closer] Mark Melancon, like an exhale. It was a big game for them and a tough one for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Puig's powerful peg:Yasiel Puig again proved that he remains one of the Major Leagues' leading practitioners in the lost art of throwing from the outfield. With Brandon Belt on second base and two outs in the first inning, Los Angeles' right fielder neatly scooped up Posey's single and fired the ball home. Catcher Yasmani Grandal snared the ball on the fly toward the front of the right-handed batter's box, a perfect location for making the tag on Belt as he slid feet-first.
"When Puig throws, his throws are powerful. I can let the ball come deeper instead of reaching to make a catch and reaching back to tag," said Grandal.
• Puig nabs Belt at plate with laser throw
Defensive debut:The Giants summoned Arroyo from Triple-A Sacramento primarily for his hitting. But the 21-year-old proved adept defensively in the fourth inning when he pounced on Grandal's smash off Cain's right foot and threw to first base for the out. Arroyo made another nice play in the eighth inning when he dove to snare Kiké Hernandez's sharp grounder, leading to a forceout at second base.
"Christian did an unbelievable job," Cain said.
Dodgers:Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night gets a rematch of his loss last October against Ty Blach and the Giants, with first pitch at 7:15 p.m. PT. Except for a hiccup at Coors Field, Kershaw has fulfilled his reputation as one of the best starting pitchers of his generation. And he's 18-8 lifetime against the Giants, 10-4 at AT&T Park.
Giants: San Francisco hopes that Blach, who switched from starting to relieving at the start of this season, can get the hang of his former role when he opposes the Dodgers in Tuesday's 7:15 p.m. PT encounter. Blach hasn't worked more than one inning in any of his seven appearances.
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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.