Buehler’s big moment comes after Evan Longoria launched a home run against Max Scherzer in a high wind on Monday night. Chris Taylor and pinch hitter Gavin Lux failed, putting the defending World Series champions on the brink of elimination.
Longoria’s shot in the fifth inning was delayed, giving the Giants a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on a cold and windy night with conditions closer to San Francisco. The Giants took a 2-1 lead in the NL Division Series.
“I don’t remember a lot of nights at Dodger Stadium where the wind blew like that,” said San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler, who grew up in Los Angeles. “Super strange.”
The gusts of wind whipped the flags down the middle of the pitch and even tripped Scherzer with an early throw.
“The wind was really pushing me home,” said Scherzer, who lost a playoff game he started for the first time since Oct. 12, 2017 against the Chicago Cubs.
Los Angeles nearly tied with two strikeouts in the ninth, when Lux kicked off a long drive to the center-left with an exit speed of 107 mph and an estimated batting average of 0.890, according to Statcast. But the wind knocked him over and the bullet was caught on the warning lane, leaving Lux in disbelief.
“My stomach almost sank when he hit it. I couldn’t believe it hadn’t worked,” Longoria said. “I guess it was our night.
Taylor flew to the deep right cross with a runner in the sixth.
“I think any other night the CT ball, the Gavin Lux ball, would have been home runs, yeah,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
It was the Giants’ second best-of-five playoff shutout after winning the opener 4-0.
Game 4 is on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium and Game 5 would be in San Francisco on Thursday, if necessary.
The Dodgers beat longtime rivals 9-2 to win Game 2, but only managed five hits at home. Newfoundland and Labrador batting champion Trea Turner and Mookie Betts each got 0 for 4, and Corey Seager went 0 for 4 with a walk.
“I thought we took some good hitting at the bat and just weren’t rewarded,” said Roberts.
Longoria came out of a 0-for-23 slump with his first shot on a 0-2 pitch down center left. It was his first playoff homerun since the 2013 ALDS with Tampa Bay.
“Just this environment… it’s crazy,” Longoria said. “What a wild night too – the wind. I mean, I think the sound here was kind of dampened by the wind.”
After the home run, Scherzer put out his last six batters. But the Dodgers have lost for the first time of their 13 starts with the team since they were acquired from Washington on the July 30 trade deadline.
“You get to the playoffs, you can still lose by a pitch. That kicks in. Tonight I lost it on a pitch,” Scherzer said.
The Giants’ other two hits were singles from Buster Posey and Kris Bryant. Their last 15 batters were struck out, including in the ninth when Dodgers closest Kenley Jansen struck out sideways.
San Francisco starter Alex Wood allowed two hits in 4 2/3 innings against his former team. The left-hander struck out four and walked two.
Tyler Rogers took the win with 1 2/3 relief. Rookie right-hander Camilo Doval pitched two perfect sets for the save.
Towels, bags of peanuts and plastic bags blew on the warning track and into the stands. A dusty haze erased the usual scenic view of the San Gabriel Mountains and prevented a pre-game flyby from being seen except on the video board. A fan’s white cap flew from the stands and landed on the pitch in the second round.
The strong wind blew steadily from left field to right throughout the game, ruffling the pitchers’ pants on the mound.
“It’s just part of the game, Mother Nature, and you have to respect that,” said Albert Pujols, who had two of the Dodgers’ hits.
Scherzer struck out 10 batters between Posey’s single in the first and Bryant’s two-out single in the fourth.
Scherzer allowed one run and three hits in seven innings. The three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out 10 strikes – his fifth career double-digit strikeout in the playoffs – and walked one in 110 shots.
The tension was palpable in the final heats.
Pinch hitter Steven Souza Jr. and Will Smith hit singles with one out in the seventh, the Dodgers’ first straight hits of the game, against sub Rogers. Pinch hitter Austin Barnes struck with a swing.
With the sold-out crowd of 53,299 on their feet chanting, “Let’s go, Dodgers!” Betts hit a screaming liner in the gauntlet of jumping shortstop Brandon Crawford to end the threat.
“Just catch the ball, that’s all I think about it,” Crawford said. “There was a bit of a lift on it and it was right over my head so I could jump up and hope it was in my glove.”
The Dodgers’ first hit came from the bat of Pujols, 41, whose single right bloop led the third in his 75th career playoff game. With Pujols, the Dodgers pitched Scherzer, 37, and Justin Turner, 36, to third.
It was Pujols’ first start and his first playoff success since the 2014 ALDS with the Los Angeles Angels. The National League three-time MVP hit 0.294 against left-handed pitchers during the regular season.
Pujols again scored a single in the lead of the fifth for his first multi-hit playoff game since his three home run in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series for St. Louis.
Giants left fielder LaMonte Wade Jr.’s mother missed the NLDS’s first three games because she is competing in her own competition – a table tennis tournament.
“He shows where her priorities are, but no, she’s having fun with it. I get videos from my dad,” Wade said. “They will definitely watch.”
Giants: 2B Tommy LaStella came out in sixth due to left Achilles strain.
THE OL ‘PERFESSEUR
The only other time the Giants have won a playoff game 1-0 on a home run was on a shot from Casey Stengel in the 1923 World Series against the New York Yankees. Stengel, of course, later became a director of the Yankees Hall of Fame.
Giants: RHP Anthony DeSclafani will start Game 4.
Dodgers: Roberts said of a starter that “it’s all on the table”.
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