Dodgers top Giants to win fourth straight series
SAN FRANCISCO — With one swing of the bat, A.J. Ellis collapsed the Giants on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park.
With the series on the line and the game tied at 1-1 in the ninth inning, the Dodgers catcher stood in facing a bases-loaded situation. With two outs, an electric crowd of 41,094 chanted “Beat L.A.” so loud it was probably heard across the bay in Oakland. But Ellis then drove a dagger right through all of those hearts left in San Francisco with a bases-clearing double.
The Dodgers went up 4-1 and Kenley Jansen closed out for the save and the win.
There’s just something about a rivalry that makes people play the game just a little bit different.
“It’s so much fun to play here,” Ellis said. “Just the energy and the atmosphere, the stadium and their fan base. They’re just constantly on top of you. It really makes us come together as a team.”
The Dodgers (42-45) have risen to the occasion as of late against the defending World Series champs. The victory was the fifth in the last six games against San Francisco (40-47) and the streaking Dodgers have also now won their last four series’.
“To know there’s just a small band of us against their whole stadium is what it feels like,” Ellis said. “I love that underdog story of playing here.”
Clayton Kershaw (8-5) turned in a masterful performance, yielding just a single earned run in eight innings with three strikeouts for his 10th career win against the Giants. The left-hander that owns the best ERA all-time against San Francisco played true to form, running his streak of quality starts against the team up to 12.
“This is a team he’s pitched really good against before and I think he enjoys kind of the rivalry of it,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “He was really good again today.”
Hanley Ramirez got things started in the second inning with a leadoff triple. The hit extended his streak to 18 games, a new career-high, and allowed him to score easily on a bloop single by Andre Ethier.
The Giants evened it up in the third inning and the game remained tied until the ninth.
But by that ninth inning, the complexion of the game had changed. With both teams hungry for a series win and anxious to score some insurance runs, the action became heated when Yasiel Puig came home and began jawing at Giants closer Sergio Romo as he was removed from the game.
Puig, who was back to normal after arguably one of the worst games of his careers the night prior, was admittedly still learning about the rivalry. The right fielder said through an interpreter that he, “liked the rivalry, liked the competition and the emotion and the excitement.”
Mattingly denied that there was any altercation.
“Usually if that kind of stuff is going on you’re going to hear about it in the dugout and there was really none of that going on,” Mattingly said. “It’s minor stuff.”
However, there was one thing Mattingly felt was going in the dugout. A new-found confidence has spread to a group that will now travel to Arizona face the division’s top team. The Dodgers are now in second place in the National League West and the 7.5-game deficit is starting to seem less daunting.
“We’re a confident bunch right now, I’ll tell you that,” Mattingly said. “You feel like you’re going to win when you play a game every day. Early on we didn’t have that same feeling. The feeling is definitely changed.”