Kenley Jansen tucked his chin to his chest as AT&T Park crackled with life around him. He had just blown his third save of the season when Giants catcher Buster Posey hit a walk-off single to send the Dodgers to a 5-4 defeat in 10 innings, and Jansen made a brisk departure from the diamond.
The result sent Jansen shuffling in dejected fashion toward his clubhouse. The potential victory could have been rousing. Instead, the Dodgers missed a chance to gain ground on their division rivals. Away from the excitement coursing through the stadium, Jansen settled into his seat by his locker. He dressed and prepared to leave.
As he exited the room, he walked past a small group of reporters. A team official asked him if he intended to speak to the media. Jansen shook his head.
“See you guys tomorrow,” Jansen said, his lone comment after allowing four consecutive hits to end the game.
The rally acted like a snowball rolling downhill, gaining momentum with each at-bat. Jansen had no answer for the Giants. The sequence started when outfielder Denard Span poked a one-out double. After a pair of singles, Posey ended the game. Jansen flung cut fastballs, his trademark pitch, without success.
“This one hurts,” starter Scott Kazmir said. “We felt like we really had the game won.”
The sting derived from the top of the 10th inning. Adrian Gonzalez gave his club life with a solo home run off Giants reliever Chris Stratton. The blast provided the Dodgers (33-30) their first lead of the game. It lasted all of three batters in the bottom of the inning.
With Jansen declining to discuss his performance, the rest of the club searched for an explanation. Manager Dave Roberts reminded that Jansen, a potential All-Star, “can’t be perfect.” Catcher Yasmani Grandal credited the Giants for the tenacity of their at-bats. Roberts echoed that sentiment.
“They’re a dangerous club,” Roberts said. “They grind out at-bats.”
It is June, so studying the standings is the errand of a fool. But the Dodgers missed an opportunity to close in on their wounded division rivals. Rather than trim the Giants’ lead to two games, the Dodgers allowed it to return to four, status quo after Friday’s stirring result.
The game on Saturday lasted four hours and drained both teams. The Giants used eight relievers. Roberts only used five after Kazmir gave up three runs in five innings. The first four relievers – Louis Coleman, J.P. Howell, Adam Liberatore and Joe Blanton – did not yield a hit. Jansen allowed quadruple that amount.
Such are the vagaries of the sport, which has been cruel so often to the Dodgers thus far in 2016. “We felt we got one taken from us,” Roberts said.
The Giants picked up a pair of runs in the first inning against Kazmir. After two quick outs, he issued walks to first baseman Brandon Belt and Posey. He did not surprise third baseman Matt Duffy with a first-pitch fastball, which Duffy roped into right for an RBI single. Kazmir gave up another run-scoring single to shortstop Brandon Crawford before escaping.
A combination of timely hitting and some daring from Trayce Thompson created the Dodgers’ first run. Thompson led off the second inning with a single. He advanced to second on a fly ball to left field, tagging up and reaching just ahead of the throw. Grandal smacked a 93-mph cutter from Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to single home Thompson.
The night before, Turner broke a deadlock with a ninth-inning homer. He built more heat on Saturday with a double in the first inning and a two-out single in the fifth. Gonzalez tied the score with a double after Turner’s second hit. Gonzalez bounced Samardzija from the game. From there, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy plucked relievers from his bullpen in rapid succession.
“We got to Samardzija,” Roberts said.
After the Giants grabbed the lead in the sixth, the Dodgers answered in the seventh. Bochy used five relievers in the inning. The last was Cory Gearrin, who walked Thompson with the bases loaded to force home the tying score.
Three innings later, Gonzalez took Stratton deep. Thompson pumped his fist in the on-deck circle. First-base coach George Lombard raised his arms in the air. Gonzalez pounded Roberts with a high-five in the dugout.
The euphoria would not last. Jansen could not slow the Giants in the bottom of the inning. And he had no answers afterward.
“It was their day,” Grandal said.
Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes
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