LOS ANGELES (AP)When Kenley Jansen struck out Steven Duggar to end the Los Angeles Dodgers’ fifth straight win and a sweep of their major league-leading archrivals, it was tough to remember just how shaky the defending champs looked last week.
The Dodgers stumbled home last Thursday after getting swept by San Diego, and they were promptly no-hit by the Cubs.
Five mostly brilliant games later, Los Angeles is revitalized, refocused and back on a roll.
Max Muncy homered on his bobblehead night, Walker Buehler pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning and the Dodgers swept a two-game series between the NL’s top two teams with a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
Chris Taylor had a two-run single in the first inning for the Dodgers, who chased Giants ace Kevin Gausman (8-2) after five innings and won despite getting just three hits all night.
”It started pretty bleak, the homestand, but we finished off really well,” manager Dave Roberts said. ”Guys responded really well from that last series in San Diego, getting no-hit. I think Gausman is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and the team offense was as good as I’ve seen it.”
Jansen allowed two baserunners to open the ninth, but finished strong for his 20th save as Los Angeles (49-31) pulled within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Giants (50-29).
Buehler (8-1) didn’t allow an earned run while striking out seven and reverting to his usual dominant self in his first start since he took his first loss since September 2019. Buehler’s franchise record-tying streak of 23 consecutive regular season starts without a defeat ended in the Cubs’ combined no-hitter last Thursday.
”In the past few years, that’s always been a big thing for us (that) we can catch momentum and go beat good teams, and I think we did that for five games,” Buehler said. ”It’s a step forward for us. We don’t think we’ve been playing to our potential every night, and five out of six, that’s what we want to do, especially against teams like that.”
Duggar had an RBI double in the seventh for the Giants, who have lost three straight for the first time since the Dodgers swept them May 21-23. That was also the last time the Giants lost a series, going 7-0-3 in their ensuing 10.
”It means we have to play better baseball against the best teams,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. ”We have that in us. We’ve seen it in the past. We’ve got more games with the Dodgers, and we’ve got to play better against them.”
Muncy hit his 17th homer to straightaway center in the third, connecting on the night the Dodgers handed out a bobblehead doll commemorating his famous homer into McCovey Cove in June 2019. Muncy angered Madison Bumgarner during his run around the bases, and the duo’s verbal sparring ended with Muncy telling the former Giants ace to ”Get it out of the ocean!”
Muncy homered in both games of the series. The slugging first baseman has seven homers in nine games against the Giants this season.
”He’s obviously an established hitter and doesn’t miss a lot of mistakes,” Gausman said. ”To be honest, I got away with a lot tonight and should have given up way more than three runs. The command just wasn’t there.”
Gausman didn’t last six innings for only the third time all season while taking his second loss in four starts. He gave up three hits and five walks, his ERA rising to 1.68 after his first back-to-back starts without a victory since mid-April.
The Dodgers loaded the bases without a hit against Gausman in the first inning before Taylor poked a single down the right field line.
Buehler has made it through six innings in all 16 of his starts, and only a two-out error by shortstop Gavin Lux prevented him from finishing seven innings for the seventh time this season. He threw a career-high 113 pitches while remaining unbeaten in 10 career appearances against the Giants, his career ERA dropping to 2.17 against LA’s archrivals.
KENLEY KILLIN’ IT
After Joe Kelly got four outs, Jansen persevered through a rocky ninth to keep his impressive month intact. The Dodgers’ once-embattled closer went 8-for-8 on save opportunities in June and allowed no runs in 11 appearances.
Although he hit Alex Dickerson and walked Buster Posey to open the ninth, Jansen then got two strikeouts and a popup.
Giants: RF Mike Tauchman was shaken up by a fall after his exceptional running catch on Buehler’s drive in the second inning. Tauchman eventually came out in the fourth. ”It just got progressively worse,” Kapler said. … Mike Yastrzemski didn’t play after fouling a ball off his shin Monday.
Dodgers: The team hasn’t decided whether SS Corey Seager will travel this week. The World Series MVP has been out since May 15 with a broken hand, and it isn’t healing quickly.
Giants: Johnny Cueto (6-3, 3.63 ERA) takes the mound Thursday in Arizona.
Dodgers: After a travel day, Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 2.77 ERA) takes the mound Friday in Washington to open a four-game series between the last two World Series champions.
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