It had to end sometime, or someday or some month.
The Dodgers and Giants hooked up for the opener of their three-game showdown series Monday and apparently enjoyed it so much, they just kept playing and playing.
It finally went to the 14th inning, with Adrian Gonzalez driving a game-winning, bases-loaded single to deep left field to give the Dodgers a 5-4 victory at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers were a frustrated crew until Gonzalez delivered the single off the first pitch from reliever Yusmeiro Petit, having gone just two for 15 with runners in scoring position.
The victory pushed their lead over the Giants in the National League West to 4½ games, their largest lead since the All-Star break.
By the time the game finally ended, Monday had become Tuesday and August had become September. The game lasted a nifty 5 hours 29 minutes.
Chris Hatcher gave the Dodgers a gutty performance to earn the win. Hatcher, who has struggled for most of the season, pitched the final three innings, throwing 49 pitches. It was the first three-inning performance of his career.
Considering to this point Monday was the start of the Dodgers’ biggest series of the season, Dodger Stadium was a disappointing one-third empty, though a crowd was announced of 40,851.
Those in attendance were given little to cheer about early.
The Dodgers, fresh off being no-hit Sunday by the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta, made quick work of that suspense Monday. Jimmy Rollins led off the bottom of the first with a single. When Chase Utley flied out to deep center, Rollins challenged Gregor Blanco and tagged. The gamble paid off, Rollins easily beating the throw.
Justin Turner made it pay off when he doubled to center field to drive in Rollins with the night’s first run.
Then came an odd Giants’ rally against Brett Anderson in the third inning. Blanco was safe on an infield single but right-hander Jake Peavy’s bunt attempt died in front of the plate and catcher Yasmani Grandal threw Blanco out at second.
Nori Aoki worked a walk and Matt Duffy singled sharply to right to load the bases. Brandon Belt lined a hit to center to score Peavy, the bases remaining full. Anderson got Buster Posey to pop up and Marlon Byrd to hit a soft bouncer.
Only the bouncer was hit in the hole between second and first. Second baseman Utley made a diving stop of the ball on the edge of the grass. He bobbled it slightly, but by the time he got to his feet two runs had scored, Duffy hustling home from second.
It was the ol’ two-run infield hit.
The Giants took their 3-1 lead into the sixth inning when the Dodgers finally woke from their doldrums. Rollins led off with another single, and one out later Gonzalez hit his 25th home run of the season to tie the score at 3-3.
Peavy remained in the game, much to the delight of Andre Ethier, who hit a solo home run to put the Dodgers up by a run. The drive went just beyond the leaping stab of Byrd and over the Giants’ bullpen fence. It was Ethier’s 13th on the season.
The Dodgers thought they were in position to win with a 4-3 lead. The bullpen, the source of so much continued anguish, had just turned in 14 consecutive scoreless innings. It would not make it to 15.
Juan Nicasio took over in the eighth inning and walked Duffy, the first batter he faced. With two outs Duffy stole second and Byrd delivered an RBI double to tie it, 4-4.
The Dodgers missed out on a strong chance to regain the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Utley hit a sharp comebacker to reliever Javier Lopez. The drive ricocheted off his leg and angled through the infield and into left. Utley hustled it into a double, Aoki’s throw from left 10 feet off the mark.
Gonzalez grounded out to first, advancing Utley to third. That was far as he got. After Turner walked, Sergio Romo came on and got Scott Van Sylke to pop out and Carl Crawford to bounce out to second.
The Dodgers failed on still another sweet opportunity when Romo walked Yasmani Grandal to lead off the ninth inning. Grandal was hitless in his last 20 at-bats. Rookie Jose Peraza ran for Grandal, was sacrificed to second on a Joc Pederson bunt and stole third. Romo struck out pinch-hitter A.J. Ellis and Rollins.