SAN FRANCISCO — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts looked at the stats. He made the sensible move. He knows Joc Pederson — he managed him for 4½ seasons — but didn’t account for his preponderance for clutch hits when he opted to intentionally walk the batter in front of him to load the bases.
As Wilmer Flores jogged to first base, Abba’s “Dancing Queen” blared over the Oracle Park soundsystem. It gave the sold-out crowd of 39,701 something to sway to, and it should have signaled to Roberts and the Dodgers that danger was present.
Absent his normal platoon advantage, facing left-hander Justin Bruihl, Pederson ripped a single past a diving Freddie Freeman and drove home Curt Casali and Austin Slater. The two-RBI knock gave the Giants’ lead important padding, from one run to three, and acted as the key hit as part of a three-run sixth-inning rally that sealed a 7-2 win for San Francisco in the first of three crucial games with the division-leading Dodgers.
Darin Ruf poked a single into right field to score the third and final run of the fifth, but he delivered bigger blasts in two other trips to the plate, with solo shots in the fourth and the eighth innings. Ruf finished with a game-high three RBIs in his second multi-homer game of the season.
The Giants only needed three runs to earn their first win this season against Los Angeles. The Giants won 10 of their 19 meetings last season while they battled for the NL West title, but the Dodgers had taken the first two this season in a sweep at Dodger Stadium last month.
The Dodgers got on the board first Friday with an RBI double from Chris Taylor in the second inning, but they would muster only one more run — a Gavin Lux solo shot to lead off the fifth — against starter Jakob Junis and the Giants bullpen.
Junis struck out five and limited the Dodgers to two runs through five innings. With the Giants expected to throw a bullpen game Saturday, manager Gabe Kapler sent Junis out for the sixth at 88 pitches. Junis, however, would only make it four pitches into the leadoff batter of the sixth before collapsing on his delivery and leaving the game.
The Giants, however, got four shutout innings from their bullpen, while Dodgers relievers surrendered four runs after Walker Buehler exited after only four innings and 70 pitches.
The decision to bring up Pederson over Flores against the left-hander was likely a no-brainer in Roberts’ mind. Pederson has been among the National League’s top power hitters this season, but he’s done it while facing almost exclusively right-handed pitching. His career OPS against left-handers is more than 200 points lower than against righties. The matchup with Pederson was supposed to favor Bruihl (.421 OPS vs. LHH), not the one with Flores.
The Giants had loaded ’em without getting a ball out of the infield, reversing the luck that has seemingly besieged their pitching and defense at every turn this season. Casali beat out an infield single, and Slater reached and advanced to second when Bruihl fell over fielding a dribbler back to the mound.
It wasn’t quite the grand slam that Pederson slugged on their past homestand, but he delivered a bases-loaded knock nonetheless. Pederson also scored the Giants’ first run of the game after singling to lead off the second and stealing his second base of the season to set him up to score on a double from Evan Longoria.
Longoria, like Junis, left the game early with a hamstring injury.
Longoria was replaced by Donovan Walton after grounding out in the bottom of the fourth with what the Giants described as left hamstring tightness. Junis was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain.
Contributed by local news sources