LOS ANGELES — When the Giants finally lost the lead in the NL West earlier this month, players clung to a positive: They had nine games left against the Dodgers.
Maybe that wasn’t a good thing.
On the first night of the biggest series of the year, the Giants looked overmatched at times. The middle of the Dodgers’ order got to Madison Bumgarner early and often, knocking him out after five innings. The Giants lost 9-5, falling two games back in the NL West for the first time since April 25. They have dropped three straight and eight of 11 since returning to the West Coast.
Corey Seager, a rookie who will end up on MVP ballots, twice got to Bumgarner in the early going. Seager joined Brett Wallace as the only left-handers this season with two hits off Bumgarner in a game, and he did it in his first two at-bats. A first-inning double was followed by Justin Turner’s RBI single to left. A third-inning single started a rally that ended with a sacrifice fly. In between, 27-year-old rookie Rob Segedin hit a solo blast to left.
The Giants got the first two runs back with a string of singles off Kenta Maeda in the third. Angel Pagan — who extended his hitting streak to 19 games — and Buster Posey drove in the runs. They put two on with one out in the fourth, but Eduardo Nuñez was cut down trying to steal third and Bumgarner struck out looking. Brandon Belt would tie the game an inning later with a double, but Hunter Pence stranded two in scoring position when he swung through a high two-strike fastball. For the second time, Bumgarner couldn’t hold the tie.
With a runner on in the fifth, Seager worked a nine-pitch walk. Nuñez made a mess of Turner’s slow roller, loading the bases for Adrian Gonzalez, who lined a two-run single just over Brandon Crawford’s outstretched glove. Bumgarner was charged with a season-high five earned runs, but things didn’t get any better when he departed.
Cory Gearrin was charged with two runs in one-third of an inning. Javier Lopez gave up a two-run shot in the eighth. The Dodgers scored a run in six of eight innings their lineup came to the plate.
Starting pitching report: With a strikeout of Segedin in the fourth inning, Bumgarner reached 200 for the third consecutive season (he had 199 in 2013). He joined Max Scherzer and Jose Fernandez as the only big league pitchers with 200 and became the fifth Giant to whiff 200 in three consecutive seasons.
Bullpen report: Will Smith had his best night as a Giant. He got Seager to fly out softly and then struck out Turner to end the sixth. In the seventh he struck out Gonzalez and induced a soft grounder from Yasmani Grandal.
At the plate: Ehire Adrianza poked a pinch-hit single into shallow right to drive in a run in the sixth. He’s batting .385 (10-for-26) this season.
In the field: The Dodgers are not exactly scared of the arms in Bruce Bochy’s outfield.
Attendance: The Dodgers announced a crowd of 46,899 human beings. Two beach balls made it to the field.
Up next: Johnny Cueto makes his biggest start as a Giant? Maybe? He’ll face Rich Hill, who has been sidelined by a blister since coming over from the A’s.