After parting on bad terms last week, the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants reunited Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium to resume an intense rivalry.
They managed to complete a game without a bench-clearing incident for the first time in their last three meetings, and the Dodgers left the field relieved after ending a four-game losing streak to the Giants with a 2-1 victory before 51,113.
Paul Lo Duca’s two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth inning helped the Dodgers get off to a good start in their rematch with the National League West leaders after getting swept last week at SBC Park.
“That’s the key right there,” Manager Jim Tracy said. “A big two-out base hit by Lo Duca.”
With runners on the corners, Lo Duca connected on an 0-and-1 pitch from Giant setup man Felix Rodriguez to drive in Jayson Werth from third with the go-ahead run.
The rest was up to All-Star closer Eric Gagne, who delivered in a save situation for the 82nd consecutive time.
Gagne gave up a two-out single to J.T. Snow before getting Marquis Grissom on a grounder to short to end the game with Barry Bonds on deck. The right-hander recorded his 19th save while extending his major league record and completing the victory for Guillermo Mota (4-3), who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh in relief of starter Jeff Weaver.
Werth’s home run provided the first run for the Dodgers (39-35), who pulled within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Giants (43-34) but remained in third place in the division behind San Diego.
“The good thing about this game is that we got a game back in the standings,” Gagne said. “We know we have a great team, we just have to play the way we can.”
The Dodgers pitched around Bonds in his four plate appearances, walking him four times, twice intentionally. And the Dodgers, despite getting only four hits, took the lead in the season series, 6-5, in a game that featured only baseball.
“After everything that happened up there last week and the way they obviously took it to us, we definitely are looking at this as a big series,” Lo Duca said. “It’s always big against the Giants, but we’ve just got to find a way to keep playing good baseball this week.”
The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Edgardo Alfonzo’s run-scoring single. Werth tied the score at 1-1 in the fifth on his fourth home run, and that was it until Lo Duca’s tiebreaking single in the eighth.
The Giants received a strong effort from 23-year-old left-hander Noah Lowry, who gave up two hits and one run -- on Werth’s shot to center -- with nine strikeouts in seven innings.
“He gave us a shot today, pitching seven innings,” Giant Manager Felipe Alou said. “Going into today, we thought five or six innings would be ideal, everything after that would be a bonus.”
Werth got the Dodgers going in the eighth with an infield single to third against Jim Brower (5-5). Alex Cora laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt while pinch-hitting for Jose Hernandez, advancing Werth to second. Left-hander Scott Eyre walked pinch-hitter David Ross and was removed for Rodriguez in a double-switch.
Rodriguez induced a grounder from Cesar Izturis that forced Ross at second, but Izturis beat the throw at first to avoid an inning-ending double play. Then Lo Duca came through again.
And both sides were pleased nothing happened to resemble the events of last week at SBC Park.
There were bench-clearing incidents in the last two games of the series, and Gagne and San Francisco right fielder Michael Tucker were ejected from the last game after Tucker took exception to a high-and-tight fastball from Gagne and the teams rushed the field.
“There’s no bad blood. I think it’s over with,” said Grissom, a former Dodger. “That was last week. These are two competitive teams, and you’ve got a little rivalry going on.
“Neither team really needs to get caught up into it. We’ve just got to go out and continue to play good baseball. We don’t need no brawls.”