The game had crept into the seventh inning, another warm and stuffy evening in Los Angeles, the crowd listless, with no sign of runs or life from the Dodgers.
And then, an explosion of emotion.
A player roared. A team roared to life. A stadium roared to life.
A season on the brink roared back toward October? That one will have to wait.
The ninth inning bit the Dodgers yet again. Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers’ closer du jour, inherited a tie and took the loss. The Dodgers lost their fifth consecutive game, this one 2-1 to the San Francisco Giants.
Maeda, moved out of the starting rotation to serve the team’s greater need in the bullpen, appeared out of the bullpen in the ninth inning. He gave up three singles — the last a two-out, run-scoring single by Alen Hanson — that gave the Giants the winning run.
As closer Kenley Jansen watched from the disabled list, Maeda became the fourth consecutive Dodgers reliever to lose a game in the ninth inning, following J.T. Chargois, Dylan Floro and Scott Alexander.
It had been five days since the Dodgers had last won, 11 innings since they had last scored.
Yasiel Puig put the fight back in the Dodgers, at least. It was Puig against the Giants, again, but this time not against Madison Bumgarner. It was here, two years ago, where Bumgarner yelled “Don’t look at me” at Puig, and the Dodgers immortalized the line on clubhouse T-shirts.
“It doesn’t happen with other teams,” Puig said through an interpreter, “and it doesn’t seem to happen when we’re in San Francisco. … I’m not going to let them act like that in our house.”
On Tuesday, Puig hit a foul ball, tossed his bat in the air, and grabbed it on the way down with his right hand. He was frustrated. The expletive he muttered was directed at himself, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, not at the pitcher or catcher.
Nick Hundley, the Giants’ catcher, took exception.
“He told me to stop complaining and get back in the box,” Puig said. “When I got in his face, he told me to get out of his face, so that’s when I got upset with him.
“I didn’t like that he was telling me what to do, and then he said some words to me in English that I really can’t repeat.”
Hundley got out of his crouch, stood up and looked directly at Puig.
Puig shoved Hundley in the chest, and the benches cleared, and the brawl was on.
This was a brawl in one place only. Dodgers coach George Lombard put his arms around Hundley and tried to spin him away from Puig. Roberts and teammates Max Muncy and Manny Machado and Matt Kemp variously tried to put their bodies between those of Puig and Hundley.
Puig reached over Lombard’s shoulder to get at Hundley. The Dodgers had to wrestle Puig away, the Giants the same for Hundley. Both players were ejected, and the league will consider suspensions and fines Wednesday.
“If they suspend me, I think they have to suspend him,” Puig said.
Puig said he would appeal any suspension. Hundley said he did not even believe he should have been ejected.
“It’s obviously a nice rivalry,” Hundley said. “We had some words and pushed a couple of times and you saw what happened. There’s really nothing more to it than that.
“That’s stuff that’s said on the field and that’ll be left out there.”
The Dodgers did not score that seventh inning, but they did in the next inning.
Justin Turner doubled, for the third time on this night. Machado singled him home, then rounded first base and lifted both palms toward the sky. Dodger Stadium might have been about as loud at that moment as it has been all season.
But Maeda lost, and the Dodgers lost, and the Dodgers are in third place in the National League West.
They are in an average place. Of the 15 teams in the league, seven have a better record, and seven have a worse record.
The instant thought upon many a brawl is that the team bonding can spark a team revival. On Tuesday, at least, Roberts wasn’t buying it.