LOS ANGELES – Brandon Belt fractured his thumb when struck by a pitch in the second inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium, and tensions often escalate after an event like that – especially among rivals.
They did escalate, but for totally different reasons.
Yasiel Puig homered in the sixth and followed his customary bat flip with a leisurely stroll around the bases, Madison Bumgarner took exception to it, words were exchanged and Dodgers umpire Don Mattingly was ejected in the sixth inning.
Bumgarner had the last word. Puig’s home run was one of just four hits he allowed over eight dominant innings and Brandon Crawford’s two-run home run sent the Giants to a 3-1 victory at Chavez Ravine.
Now the Giants have two chances to clinch what would be their third consecutive series victory over the favored and well compensated Dodgers this season.
As for Belt, who left the game in the second inning after Paul Maholm’s pitch hit him, he is undoubtedly headed to the disabled list.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner (4-3) mixed a lively fastball with his cutter and change while striking out eight and issuing one walk. He got load of fly outs in the early innings; he managed to strand Justin Turner following a leadoff double and a sacrifice in the third when Dee Gordon grounded out and Puig struck out.
It’ll be the later confrontation between Bumgarner and Puig that will be remembered, but the strikeout in the third was pretty good, too. Puig worked the count full and Bumgarner, who has spent the better part of two seasons pounding him inside, darted a backdoor cutter for a called third strike.
Then came the sixth, and a 2-2 fastball that Puig crushed over the center field fence. Puig’s bat flip wasn’t any flashier than his usual motion after a home run. But then he followed with a leisurely stroll around the bases.
It couldn’t have been a coincidence that Bumgarner stationed himself near the third base line, receiving a new ball from umpire Will Little, as Puig rounded third and headed home. Bumgarner said a few words in Puig’s direction and Puig briefly stopped in his tracks to say a few words back before continuing to the plate.
Little immediately moved in front of Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey made sure to stay between Puig and his pitcher. But Puig jogged off the field without escalating the incident.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly both walked onto the field, with Mattingly looking rather upset. The game continued but Mattingly continued to yell from the dugout. After a pitch to Hanley Ramirez, Little ejected him.
Bumgarner badly bounced a curveball but otherwise got his bearings quickly enough. He struck out Ramirez, retired Adrian Gonzalez on a fly ball to end the sixth and induced a double-play grounder – the Giants’ 13th turned in eight games on this trip -- to end the seventh.
Overall, it was his best start of the season.
Sergio Romo stayed automatic. He’s 12 for 12 in save chances.
At the plate
Crawford hit .199 against left-handers last season. He’s doing a fair bit better this year.
He took Maholm deep for a two-run shot that broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning. It was his fourth homer of the season and his third against lefties; through that at-bat, he was hitting .421 against left-handers and .174 against right-handers.
Brandon Hicks drew a walk in front of Crawford’s shot, which cleared the wall down the left field line.
The Giants added a run in the sixth when Hunter Pence drew a leadoff walk, advanced on a ground out, stole third base – his sixth in seven tries – and scored on Arias’ infield single.
Arias doubled his RBI count for the season. He entered the game with a .163 slugging percentage and one run driven in over 49 at-bats. The throw from third base got away and when Arias took off for second base, Gordon flung the ball from foul territory – not realizing that nobody was covering the bag. Following an intentional walk to Pablo Sandoval that served as Maholm’s final act, Hicks grounded out to end the inning.
Pagan made a sliding catch in center field to take a hit away from Puig to start the ninth, ensuring Romo a less stressful experience and keeping the tying run from coming to the plate.
The Dodgers announced 49,121 paid.
The Giants and Dodgers continue their four-game series at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Matt Cain (0-3, 4.35) is expected to be activated from the disabled list and start against Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke (5-1, 2.35). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PDT.