Joc Pederson led off the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on Monday hitless in his previous 29 at-bats, a burden that produced a lighthearted reaction when he finally ended the skid with an infield single to the shortstop.
The outfielder jokingly raised his arms in triumph. He asked to keep the ball to commemorate the milestone, and teammates laughed in the dugout.
It was Pederson’s first hit in nine days. By the end of the night, it was one of the few Dodgers offensive highlights as their recent struggles to score continued in a 3-2 loss to the last-place San Francisco Giants.
Without the injured Corey Seager or Justin Turner in the starting lineup — Turner’s workload continues to be monitored as he works through hamstring tightness — the Dodgers (48-25) mustered just two other hits off Tyler Beede, a rookie right-hander who entered Monday with an 8.10 earned-run average in 30 career innings.
Max Muncy provided the Dodgers’ only run with his 17th homer in the second inning. Unlike his previous home run against the Giants (31-39), it didn’t land in a body of water or cause an uproar from the pitcher. The Dodgers’ only other hit off Beede was Kenta Maeda’s infield single in the third inning.
Otherwise, Beede compiled seven strikeouts and worked five walks to limit the Dodgers to one run over six innings before the Giants’ bullpen — the club’s only strength — finished off the game.
“We just took five walks from Beede and just really couldn’t put any other offense together, really,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s just one of those nights where we got to regroup.”
The Dodgers’ threat, however, quickly ended when Enrique Hernandez popped out on the next pitch to conclude the frame and an 0-for-4 night for Hernandez, whose batting average plunged to .210.
In 15 games this month, the Dodgers are averaging 3.93 runs after averaging 5.4 through the end of May. Monday was the eighth time they’ve been held to three or fewer runs in 11 games. They’re 5-6 during the stretch.
“We should’ve won that game,” catcher Austin Barnes said. “We have to get across another run and win.”
For nearly two months, the Dodgers’ starting rotation has propelled the club to the best record in the National League. The unit has masked bullpen warts and overcome occasional offensive outages, utilizing a formula centered around sustaining atypical efficiency to pitch deep into games.
Kenta Maeda, however, has recently struggled to follow the pattern.
Last week, Maeda became the first Dodgers starter to not log at least five innings in 32 games. Despite a strong finish, he couldn’t recover from a disastrous first inning in which he allowed five runs with two outs. His outing was cut off after he threw 97 pitches in just 4 1/3 innings, and the Angels won to complete a two-game sweep.
Early inefficiency — fueled by an inability to put hitters away — plagued him again Monday. But he was able to regroup and command his offspeed pitches to reach five innings despite taking a comebacker off the hand that required X-rays after the game. The X-rays were negative.
The Giants’ only runs off Maeda came on Brandon Crawford’s two-run double on the eighth pitch of his at-bat in the second inning.
Maeda emerged from the third frame having thrown 69 pitches before tossing 20 to retire the next six batters and ceding to Julio Urias.
Urias began his outing with four straight balls to Pablo Sandoval and a second walk to Brandon Belt. The spate of wildness cost him.
Stephen Vogt’s groundball to first baseman Matt Beaty could’ve started a double play. Instead, after Beaty retired Belt at second base, shortstop Chris Taylor’s throw to first base sailed unimpeded between Beaty and Urias and into the Giants’ dugout.
The lack of communication allowed Sandoval to score, and Taylor was charged with an error. It doubled the Dodgers’ deficit and proved to be the difference.
“They were both in a position to catch the baseball but they were both in a position to let the baseball go and that’s just something that can’t happen,” Roberts said. “So that’s more of a communication breakdown. Shouldn’t happen.”