LOS ANGELES (AP)The Los Angeles Dodgers got a hard-fought win in the first chapter of their rivalry series with the San Francisco Giants this season.
And everybody on both teams last year learned just how important every single victory can be when these two powerhouses tangle.
Chris Taylor had an early two-run single, Julio Urias pitched six scoreless innings of four-hit ball and the Dodgers hung on for a 3-1 victory over the Giants on Tuesday night.
Carlos Rodon tossed six innings of three-hit ball, but took his first loss for the Giants in the first of 19 much-anticipated meetings between the California archrivals this season.
”I’m expecting 18 more good games,” said Taylor, a key figure in this rivalry since 2017. ”Every time we step on the field with them, it seems like it comes down to the last out. The crowd was awesome. It’s exciting playing in this rivalry.”
The games will have to be tremendously exciting to top last season’s series, which was among the best in the 133-season history of this bicoastal rivalry.
These clubs won a combined 213 games last season, with the 107-win Giants going 10-9 against LA – and ending the 106-win Dodgers’ eight-year reign in the NL West by that one victory.
Los Angeles then edged San Francisco in a thrilling five-game Division Series, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts could tell his team was drained by that effort before its NLCS loss to Atlanta.
Hanser Alberto doubled and scored in the eighth inning for Los Angeles, which won for the third time in four games despite a hair-raising ninth. New closer Craig Kimbrel walked Wilmer Flores and gave up a two-out bunt single to Luis Gonzalez before getting Luke Williams to ground into a forceout, earning his fifth save.
”It’s going to be a good matchup all year long,” Kimbrel said after his first taste of the rivalry. ”It’s not too many times you have two teams in one division that good and have that many wins.”
Urias (2-1) largely cruised through his start, but was pulled after just 65 pitches. The 2020 World Series star issued no walks after walking eight in his first four starts.
Rodon (3-1) allowed just three total runs in his first four starts for the Giants, but Los Angeles got him in trouble during a 27-pitch second inning in which the left-hander walked two and threw a wild pitch before Taylor’s single to right-center.
”Little wonky second inning there, walking two lefties that are guys I need to get,” Rodon said of Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger. ”And Chris Taylor is a pretty good hitter.”
Rodon otherwise allowed only doubles by Taylor and Trea Turner in his six innings. Turner went 1 for 3 with that 112 mph drive in his first career matchup with Rodon, his buddy and former teammate at North Carolina State.
”After the two walks, he settled in nicely,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. ”That’s one of the best lineups in baseball, if not the best. Carlos has been outstanding for us.”
San Francisco broke through in the seventh when Flores reached on third baseman Justin Turner’s terrible throw, advanced on a groundout and scored on pinch-hitter Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly. Alex Vesia ended the rally by striking out Williams.
Los Angeles added a run in the eighth when Alberto doubled, advanced on Mookie Betts’ single and scored on Jose Alvarez’s wild pitch.
Joc Pederson was heavily booed before he struck out as a pinch-hitter in his first visit to Dodger Stadium with the Giants. The longtime Dodgers outfielder got a warmer reception when he returned with the Cubs and Braves last season.
Rodon was sharp, but also fortunate to get Will Smith and Muncy on warning-track flyouts that traveled a combined 694 feet. After Rodon left, Bellinger was retired on a 390-foot flyout to deep center field in the seventh.
The Dodgers are no strangers to near-misses in Chavez Ravine against the Giants: In Game 3 of last season’s NLDS, the Dodgers were baffled when Gavin Lux’s long fly to left got blown down by a stiff wind for the final out.
Giants: OF LaMonte Wade Jr. is ”physically ready to come off the injured list,” Kapler said. The team is waiting until Wade’s knee is sturdy enough to play nine innings. He could be activated Wednesday. … OF Mike Yastrzemski could return from the COVID-19 list Wednesday.
Roberts declined to reveal his starter for Wednesday’s game before the series opener, admitting to a little gamesmanship. LA will face former teammate Alex Wood (2-1, 4.19 ERA), who’s coming off his worst start of the season against Washington.
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