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Max Muncy once again helps Dodgers topple Giants for series sweep

Max Muncy gestures as he rounds third after hitting a solo home run during the third inning of the Dodgers' 3-1 win.
Max Muncy gestures as he rounds third after hitting a solo home run during the third inning of the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

There was no ocean from which the San Francisco Giants could retrieve Max Muncy’s home run balls this week, just a sea of humanity in Dodger Stadium’s right-field pavilion, where Muncy’s 424-foot blast landed Monday night, and a cluster of fans in the center-field plaza, where his 404-foot shot landed Tuesday night.

Muncy celebrated his “go-get-it-out-of-the-ocean” bobblehead night Tuesday with his second homer in as many games, his solo shot in the third inning fueling a 3-1 victory before 52,342 at Chavez Ravine that gave the Dodgers a two-game sweep of their National League West rivals.

Walker Buehler delivered 6-2/3 superb innings, giving up one unearned run and three hits, striking out seven and walking one, and the Dodgers beat one of baseball’s best pitchers in Kevin Gausman to cut San Francisco’s lead in the division to 1½ games.

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Closer Kenley Jansen provided some drama in the ninth, hitting Alex Dickerson with his first pitch, walking Buster Posey and falling behind Brandon Crawford, who has a team-leading 17 homers, with a two-ball count.

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But the right-hander rebounded to strike out Crawford with an 84-mph slider. Jansen then got Wilmer Flores to pop out to shortstop and struck out Steven Duggar with an 86-mph slider to seal his 20th save and the team’s fifth straight win after being no-hit by the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

The Dodgers have won six of nine against the Giants this season, and Muncy has had a huge hand in that, batting .345 (10 for 29) with seven homers and eight RBIs in the nine games. He has a .264 batting average, 15 homers and 44 RBIs in 44 career games against San Francisco.

Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler delivers during the first inning of a 3-1 win.
Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler delivers during the first inning of a 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“Max plays hard every night. He’s shown to perform on the big stage and in big games, and when you’re talking about Giants-Dodgers, the rivalry, he’s certainly had some success against those guys,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I don’t know what it is, but I’m glad he’s wearing a Dodgers uniform.”

The first 40,000 fans in attendance Tuesday received a Muncy doll that featured the bearded slugger in his road grays, a batting helmet on his head and scowl on his face, pointing his left index finger angrily toward the sky.

It was the pose Muncy struck on June 9, 2019, when he got into a shouting match with then-Giants ace Madison Bumgarner as he rounded the bases on a homer that soared over Oracle Park’s right-field wall and splashed into McCovey Cove.

The notoriously feisty Bumgarner did not like the way Muncy admired his shot, telling Muncy, “You don’t watch the ball, you run!” To which Muncy replied, “If you don’t want me to watch the ball, you can go get it out of the ocean!”

Muncy was a relatively mild-mannered infielder in his second season with the Dodgers, which is why Roberts was surprised to see him fight Bumgarner’s fire with fire.

Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen celebrates along with catcher Will Smith after striking out Steven Duggar
Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen, left, celebrates along with catcher Will Smith after striking out San Francisco’s Steven Duggar to secure a 3-1 win.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Kenley Jansen celebrates after striking out San Francisco's Steven Duggar to end the game.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“Max had a great at-bat, he hit a homer and admired it — I don’t think too long — and Bum had some words for him,” Roberts said. “And to hear the ‘go get it out of the ocean,’ I’ve never heard that one. It was a quick response. I love the fire.”

Muncy, who was released by Oakland in the spring of 2017 and out of baseball for a month before signing with the Dodgers, has evolved into one of the game’s top players, a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman who is the leading NL All-Star vote-getter at his position.

Muncy’s dispute with Bumgarner was a turning point of sorts, establishing Muncy as a player who was not going to be intimidated.

“That’s the person I always am, from the way I was raised, playing football, to coming up the way I did,” said Muncy, who is batting .264 with a .973 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 17 homers, 38 RBIs and a major league-leading 52 walks this season. “That might have been the first time a lot of other people saw it, but when I’m competing, I’m not going to back down from anybody.”

The Dodgers took advantage of Gausman’s control problems to take a 2-0 lead in the first Tuesday. Muncy walked with one out, Justin Turner was hit by a pitch and Gausman walked Cody Bellinger to load the bases.

Highlights from the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Giants on Tuesday.

Gausman struck out Will Smith with a split-fingered fastball, but Chris Taylor fisted a flare past first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr. for a two-run double.

“That was huge,” Roberts said of Taylor’s hit. “To have that back-breaker of a ball off the bat, two strikes, a little 65-mph bleeder, was the difference tonight.”

Muncy hit a 96-mph fastball from Gausman over the center-field wall to lead off the third for a 3-0 lead. Gavin Lux’s two-out error and Duggar’s RBI double pulled the Giants to within 3-1 in the seventh.

But Joe Kelly replaced Buehler and got Donovan Solano to ground to third, ending the seventh, before retiring the side in order in the eighth.


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