LOS ANGELES -- Rich Hill proved to be worth the wait, beating out Johnny Cueto in a pitchers' duel and handing the Dodgers a 1-0 win over the Giants on Wednesday night. Los Angeles now holds a season-high three-game lead in the National League West.Sidelined with a blister since his
LOS ANGELES -- Rich Hill proved to be worth the wait, beating out Johnny Cueto in a pitchers' duel and handing the Dodgers a 1-0 win over the Giants on Wednesday night. Los Angeles now holds a season-high three-game lead in the National League West.
Sidelined with a blister since his acquisition from Oakland at the Trade Deadline on Aug. 1, Hill threw 81 pitches before getting pulled following the sixth inning. The veteran lefty struck out three and allowed five baserunners, all reaching on singles. Justin Turner's fourth-inning home run and three scoreless innings from the L.A. bullpen, culminating with Kenley Jansen's perfect ninth for save No. 37, assured that Hill would walk away with a win.
"Everything felt solid. Mentally, I felt great, body feels good," Hill said. "Something that I've emphasized throughout the entire season in Oakland and carried over here into L.A. is just stay within the moment, a pitch-to-pitch approach and really just making sure you execute each pitch."
Hill's full arsenal from a first half in which he registered a 2.25 ERA was on display. He featured a filthy curveball he can throw in any count and a four-seamer that can miss bats, and he threw them both from multiple arm slots. He even mixed in a 52-mph eephus.
"I'm not really that surprised. That's Rich, I've seen it all year," said Josh Reddick, who came over with Hill in the Oakland trade. "The guy is going to use his curveball. He utilizes it every inning and no matter what count it is. It's something I've gotten used to from him, and it just goes to show what kind of competitor he is after not pitching for so long and going out and shutting down a lineup like those guys."
It was a tough loss for Cueto, whose one run allowed in six innings was one too many. While the right-hander had exceeded 100 pitches in all but six of his starts entering Wednesday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy pinch-hit for him in the top of the seventh after he'd thrown only 94 pitches.
The frustration continued for the Giants, who have lost four in a row, eight of their last 10 and own a Major League-worst 11-25 record since the All-Star break. But Bochy believes his team can straighten itself out and doesn't need a pep talk.
"They know. They've been through this. This group is battle-tested," Bochy said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Turner takes one deep: The sole run of the game come from Turner, who hit a Statcast-measured 387-foot shot off Cueto in the fourth inning. It was his team-leading 24th long ball and part of his fourth multihit performance in seven games.
"He only throws three pitches, but with the slide step and hesitation, it feels like nine or 10 pitches," said Turner. "He changes the tempo, and it messes with my timing. For me, it's a fight because of my leg kick. That quick pitch, it makes it hard for me to get the leg kick. I try to anticipate the quick pitch every time and be ready to go.
"It's a cat-and-mouse game every time. He's one of my favorite guys to face. I know how competitive he is. I was with him with the Reds. You're always guessing whether he'll go quick or slow or with the hesitation. Every time we face each other, he does something to make me laugh and he laughs back at me. I always look forward to it."
Jansen sets another record: Save opportunities have been hard to come by recently for Jansen, receiving just one in the 10 days before the San Francisco series. It seems that has left him rested and hungry to close the door on the Giants. He notched a four-out save Tuesday and on Wednesday tied Jim Brewer's franchise record for strikeouts by a reliever with two more to give him 604 in his career.
"I always throw harder the more I'm pitching," he said. "The more I pitch, the sharper I get. I hate sitting eight days, it's difficult pitching that way. When I pitch the most, my rhythm gets better. I love the way [manager Dave Roberts] uses me. This is go time, the end of August. I want to help my team win." More >
Not enough:Brandon Crawford nearly gave the Giants an eighth-inning lead when he yanked Joe Blanton's 0-2 pitch to deep right field with runners on the corners and two out. The ball didn't appear to be traveling at a sufficiently high trajectory to clear the wall, but it kept carrying. Ultimately, Reddick caught up with the drive a step in front of the barrier, crushing San Francisco's hopes.
"It's tough, but that's the way baseball is sometimes," Crawford said. More >
Good enough to win: Cueto (14-4) fell to 1-3 since the All-Star break despite a solid performance. The pitch that Turner hammered was one of his few mistakes.
"It was a cutter," said Cueto, who has compiled a 1.60 ERA in his last five Dodger Stadium starts. "It was supposed to be a cutter, but it stayed over the middle of the plate."
"Tonight was two pitchers going head to head and you knew that runs were going to be tough to come by." -- Roberts
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The three longest active hitting streaks in baseball were at stake on Wednesday, but just one lasted through the night. Adrián González singled after Turner's home run to bring his streak up to 17 games. Ángel Pagán drew a walk, but went hitless to end his MLB-best 19-game streak while Corey Seager went 0-for-4 to lose his 14-gamer.
Giants: A game such as Thursday's 7:10 p.m. PT encounter was a big reason why San Francisco acquired Matt Moore, who'll start the series finale at Chavez Ravine. The Giants were well aware that many Dodgers are less effective against left-handers such as Moore.
Dodgers:Ross Stripling will face San Francisco on Thursday for the first time since his historic MLB debut on April 8, when he threw 7 1/3 hitless innings before getting pulled in a 3-2 loss. The right-hander will fill in for Brett Anderson, who hit the disabled list with a blister on Tuesday.
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Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Dodgers on Wednesday.
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.