SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants weren’t sure how Dodgers manager Dave Roberts would handle this series. Would the division champions go for the kill shot and try to knock their rivals out of the postseason, or would they pull off the gas in a series that is meaningful to just one side?
A sixth-inning pitching change provided the answer. The Giants were all too happy to take advantage.
In what was an audition for a postseason bullpen spot, Brandon McCarthy made his first relief appearance in nine years. He didn’t record an out. The Giants dropped six runs on McCarthy’s line and scored seven in the inning, sprinting to a 9-3 victory.
Madison Bumgarner’s 100th career win allowed the Giants to keep pace in the Wild Card race. All three teams won, so the Giants enter the weekend a game back of the Mets and a game up on the Cardinals. The Giants can clinch a Wild Card spot Saturday if they win and the Cardinals lose.
The matchup between two of the game’s best left-handers was an uncharacteristic shootout early on. The Dodgers hung two on Bumgarner in the top of the first, with Yasiel Puig — facing Bumgarner for the first time since an altercation in Los Angeles — adding a hard double to two bloop singles.
The Giants came right back and knotted it up against Rich Hill. Gorkys Hernandez, starting for Denard Span, opened with a double. Buster Posey’s single drove in a run and Angel Pagan tied it on a sacrifice fly.
The Giants took the lead on three straight singles in the top of the seventh, but the Giants stormed back against McCarthy. With two on, Kelby Tomlinson poked a two-strike pitch into center to load the bases. Conor Gillaspie smacked a two-run double into right and jumped for joy as he hit second. Bumgarner doubled to left and screamed as he took Gillaspie’s place. Brandon Belt capped the inning with a three-run homer to center off Josh Ravin.
Starting pitching report: Bumgarner’s next appearance will come in the wild card game, if the Giants get there. His 2016 numbers: 226 2/3 innings, 15-9 record, 2.74 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 251 strikeouts.
Bullpen report: Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth. It went 1-2-3.
At the plate: Bumgarner had two hits to finish the season (likely) at 16, after notching 17 and 19 the past two seasons. He hit three homers and six doubles, driving in nine runs.
In the field: Tomlinson made a spectacular diving stop of a throw to second and then had the presence of mind to whip around and tag Enrique Hernandez, who had overrun the bag.
Attendance: Two idiots ran on the field in the fourth inning and ANGEL PAGAN BODY-SLAMMED ONE OF THEM.
Up next: Clayton Kershaw faces young TBA.