SAN FRANCISCO — The calendar turned Saturday, and as always, the Giants had an October surprise up their sleeves.
Rookie Ty Blach, making his second career start and first appearance at AT&T Park, outgunned Clayton Kershaw and carried the Giants to a 3-0 win over the Dodgers. Blach gave up just three hits over eight innings, and he did so in the hours after a Cardinals win over the Pirates.
The Giants remained a game up on St. Louis with one day left in the regular season. A Giants win on Sunday — or a Cardinals loss to Ryan Vogelsong — will clinch a flight to New York for Wednesday’s National League Wild Card Game.
Blach went toe-to-toe with the best pitcher in the game, keeping up as Kershaw got through three perfect innings on just 26 pitches. The Dodgers put two on in the second, but Blach coaxed an inning-ending double play. In the third, he struck out the side, all looking. Adrian Gonzalez flied out to the warning track to end the fourth.
Kershaw had allowed just one Giant to reach base when Angel Pagan led off in the fifth. He smacked a solo shot that bounced off the top padding of the wall in left. Blach had set the side down on five pitches in the fifth, and he came out with a lead and cruised through the sixth and seventh, sprinting off the field to standing ovations.
The Giants added to the lead in the seventh. Pagan hit a leadoff single and Brandon Crawford bounced a ball off Kershaw’s leg. Justin Turner’s throw to first went up the line and Pagan raced him, with Crawford circling to third. He scored on Gordon Beckham’s sacrifice fly.
Blach gave up a single in the eighth, but he struck out Enrique Hernandez to end the inning. He subtly pumped his fist and then ran off the field to thundering cheers.
Starting pitching report: Blach against the Dodgers this season: 11 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.
Bullpen report: Sergio Romo locked it down in the ninth. It is worth noting that Will Smith and Javier Lopez warmed up during the inning. There's still a hint of "committee" in the ninth inning.
At the plate: Blach picked up his first career hit in the sixth when he dropped a single into shallow right. He picked up his second single in the seventh, and it was no fluke. Blach hit .200 in the minor leagues.
In the field: Joe Panik made a spinning throw to get the first out of the ninth.
Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,320 human beings. Willie Mays was in the house for a visit with Vin Scully.
Up next: The Giants will try to clinch a postseason spot behind Matt Moore. Over in St. Louis, Ryan Vogelsong will face the Cardinals.