SAN FRANCISCO - In three plate appearances against the best pitcher in the world, Kelby Tomlinson had a homer, single and walk. He also made a spectacular play up the middle that ranks as one of his best as a big leaguer.
"It was a little bit of Tommy-ball tonight," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Tomlinson was not able to fully enjoy his night. The Giants weren't able to celebrate him, either. Tomlinson's game also included one of several defensive mistakes the Giants made behind Johnny Cueto, and they never recovered. Clayton Kershaw got the first 18 outs and Kenley Jansen got the final four as the Dodgers edged the Giants 5-3, ending their 11-game losing streak.
The Dodgers officially clinched a postseason spot after two weeks of confusion. The Giants officially became the first MLB team to 90 losses.
Three plays stood out as the Giants fell behind 4-1. Hunter Pence drifted toward a pop-up to shallow right and watched as it dropped behind Joe Panik. That misplay cost Cueto 10 grueling pitches on a night when he felt like his old self. An inning later, Austin Slater whiffed on Kershaw's liner to left that turned into a double. Tomlinson tried to get Kershaw at third on an ensuing grounder, but his throw was wide. Kershaw would come around to score, and the Dodgers would tack on two more.
The sequence taught two lessons …
First of all, the official scorekeeping rules are dumb. Neither ball to the outfield was ruled an error, and despite getting what should have been four outs in the fourth, Cueto was charged with four earned runs.
The second lesson: "You're going against one of the elite pitchers in the game," Bochy said. "With somebody as good as Kershaw, you've got to play your best ball, and we didn't do that."
The Giants rarely have this season. The 90-loss year is their first since 2008 and it has included so many nights like this one. There was plenty of good, but the bad moments outweighed the highlights. Tomlinson was left shaking his head after what could have been a career night.
"I really wanted to get that one," he said of the missed out at third. "I tried to make a play and it didn't work out. It makes it tough when you look back at the end of the game."
The Dodgers are in such a tailspin that they didn't even realize they had clinched a postseason spot until after their postgame handshake line. MLB's computers did more work during the game and realized that their previously stated tiebreaker scenarios were off.
"We're in the postseason?" Dave Roberts asked Dodgers reporters.
The Giants have known for months that they won't be. They are playing spoiler, and they missed an opportunity to add a little more pain to a brutal September for their rivals. A clear single to right and two infield singles to the mound loaded the bases against Jansen in the ninth, but Buster Posey swung through a cutter right down the heart of the plate and Nick Hundley struck out for the 10th time in 10 career at-bats against Jansen.