The Los Angeles Dodgers slogged their way through three innings on Tuesday night much as they had the past two-plus weeks. The losses had piled up during that stretch — 11 in a row and in 15 of the last 16 games — and the San Francisco Giants looked to add to the misery.
After Yasmani Grandal struck out swinging to leave the bases loaded in the top of the third, Kelby Tomlinson led off the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run. He entered the night a career 0-for-14 with six strikeouts against Clayton Kershaw.
What’s more, the home run was only Tomlinson’s third of his career and first since 2014. Johnny Cueto failed to protect the slim lead.
Chase Utley returned the favor by opening the fourth with a gamey-tying home run that carried into McCovey Cove.
Kershaw’s line drive to left-center field got lost in the lights and carried by Austin Slater for a stand-up double. Perhaps sensing momentum was hanging in the balance, Kershaw turned to the Dodgers dugout and let out a yell.
Tomlinson’s throwing error allowed Kershaw to advance to third base and left runners at the corners with nobody out. Corey Seager’s sacrifice fly provided the Dodgers with a lead they never relinquished.
Cody Bellinger was intentionally walked, one of three on the night, to load the bases for Yasiel Puig. He got ahead of the count and spoiled multiple pitches before hitting a booming two-run double off the wall.
Justin Turner’s RBI double in the eighth provided insurance in what finished as a 5-3 victory for the Dodgers. Unbeknownst to manager Dave Roberts and the players, the win clinched a fifth consecutive trip to the postseason.
The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the National League West is now eight, with only 17 games to play. They begin Wednesday with a 10-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings.