Cody Bellinger’s first-inning drive sounded like a home run Sunday, the ear-splitting crack of the bat echoing through Dodger Stadium and the ball whistling through the cool air of a 65-degree afternoon to deep center field, where it died on the warning track.
Max Muncy barreled up a ball in the sixth inning that many in the crowd of 49,541 thought was gone. It was caught on the warning track. Justin Turner followed with a drive into the left-field corner that was plenty deep to clear the wall. It hooked foul.
The Dodgers were reminded in a 4-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants how difficult it can be to maintain a long-distance relationship. They’ve been infatuated with the long ball this month, clubbing a major league-high 34 homers in their first 13 games of June before the power went out on them Sunday.
Starter Chris Stratton and relievers Will Smith, Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland ended the Dodgers’ winning streak at five games and their streak of games with at least one homer at 13.
“I thought we had a lot of hard contact today, for sure,” Bellinger said. “But if you miss it by half a centimeter, it doesn’t go. That’s how baseball goes.”
The Dodgers averaged 7.15 runs per game, with a .581 slugging percentage and a .939 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, in the first 13 games of June. They mustered all of four hits, all singles, on Sunday and scored their run on an error. They failed to advance a runner to second base in the final eight innings.
When you’ve been hitting as many homers as the Dodgers have been, could there be a tendency for hitters to sit back and wait for the long ball?
“That’s the case sometimes, but today … I don’t think we were over-swinging,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I don’t think we’re sitting back and just trying to slug. We’re trying to take good swings, and today, the balls didn’t go out of the ballpark.”
Stratton (8-4) gave up one unearned run and three hits in six innings, striking out three and walking one, and Smith, Melancon, Watson and Strickland covered the final three innings. The Dodgers lost for only the sixth time in 28 games since May 17.
The Giants managed only three hits, but two were homers, Nick Hundley’s two-run shot in the first inning and Brandon Belt’s two-run shot in the third.
With Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler on the disabled list, the Dodgers turned to burly 21-year-old left-hander Caleb Ferguson, who pitched all of 2017 at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, for his third career start.
It didn’t take long for Ferguson, a 38th-round pick out of West Jefferson (Ohio) High in 2014, to find trouble.
After a one-out walk to Belt in the first inning, Ferguson (0-1) caught too much of the plate with a full-count changeup to Hundley, who sent a 432-foot laser into the left-field pavilion for a 2-0 Giants lead.
A gift run in the bottom of the first sliced the deficit in half. Muncy walked with one out, took second on Turner’s single and third on Bellinger’s fly to deep center.
Turner took off for second on a ball in the dirt and stopped short of the bag. Hundley, the San Francisco catcher, fired a throw into center field for an error that allowed Muncy to score.
Ferguson, who was roughed up for six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings of his first two starts, struck out the side in the second, but gave up two more runs — one unearned — in the third.
Shortstop Enrique Hernandez booted a Gorkys Hernandez one-out grounder for an error and Belt lined a full-count fastball for an opposite-field two-run homer to left-center field, his 12th. That made it 4-1.
Ferguson retired the next eight batters before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the fifth. His final line: five innings, two hits, four runs, three earned, one walk, six strikeouts. Of his 84 pitches, 58 were strikes.
“Today was his best outing of the three,” Roberts said. “I thought he did a great job of pounding the strike zone, getting some empty swings with the fastball, striking with the curveball, and at times, the changeup was good. He just made two mistakes. Outside of that, I thought he pitched really well.”
Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna