Giants observations: Kevin Gausman not sharp in Game 2 loss to Dodgers

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What we learned as Giants drop NLDS Game 2 to Dodgers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- The winningest postseason series in MLB history is now a best-of-three.

The Los Angeles Dodgers blew out the Giants 9-2 in Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday night at Oracle Park, getting a couple of early runs off Kevin Gausman and then pulling away with a four-run rally off Gausman and Dominic Leone in the sixth.

The series will head to Dodger Stadium knotted up at one game apiece, with Max Scherzer waiting to take the ball for LA in Monday night's Game 3. He will oppose former Dodgers starter Alex Wood.

The good vibes from Friday night's shutout didn't last long. Gausman wasn't at his best, the Giants bullpen struggled, and the Dodgers put on a show defensively to turn this one into a laugher.

The Dodgers gave Gausman fits in the regular season, working so many deep counts that he threw just 14 innings in his three starts against them. On Saturday, Gausman stranded a runner on second base in the first inning and looked like he was going to do it again in the second. But after the Giants intentionally walked A.J. Pollock to face Julio Urias with two outs, the opposing starter blooped an RBI single to right. Mookie Betts made it 2-0 with a single to left.

The Giants immediately got a run back on a sacrifice fly by Donovan Solano, but they had trouble gaining any traction against Urias. In the sixth inning, that came back to bite them.

Still trailing, Gausman departed with two on and one out. Leone issued a walk to load the bases, and massively slumping Cody Bellinger doubled to bring two runs home. A.J. Pollock followed with another double to make it 6-1.

Starting with Will Smith's homer in the eighth, the Dodgers tacked on three more runs. At that point, the only thing left to be decided was how many Giants fans could get selfies with actor Tom Cruise before he was led out of the ballpark.

First time out

Gausman had four previous postseason appearances with the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves, but they all came out of the bullpen. His first October start wasn't up to his regular-season standard.

Gausman was shaky enough early on that Giants manager Gabe Kapler sent Tommy La Stella to the on-deck circle in the second inning before pulling him back after Solano brought in a run. Gausman stayed in and locked in, retiring the side in order the next three innings, but after a double and walk in the sixth, he was pulled. Both runs were cashed in, putting four runs on Gausman's final line. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings.

One night after Logan Webb surprised the Dodgers with heavy use of his changeup, Gausman tried to sneak sliders past them. He threw the pitch just 6 percent of the time in the regular season but upped that to 17 percent Saturday. It was reasonably effective, but his real problem was the Dodgers continued to see his splitter well. Gausman got just five swinging strikes on it.

Out of nowhere

Bellinger was the NL MVP in 2016 and still is just 26 years old, but he has looked completely broken this season, particularly against the Giants.

Bellinger hit .165 overall and went 2-for-48 against the Giants during the regular season. He was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in this series when he stepped up with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth.

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Since injuring his shoulder last October, Bellinger has had a tremendously tough time catching up with velocity. He hit just .168 against 95-plus mph fastballs this season, according to Inside Edge, but he crushed a middle-middle 95-mph fastball from Leone off the left field wall.

With that swing, Bellinger drove in more runs than he had in his previous 53 at-bats against the Giants.

Hey, so that was positive ...

There wasn't much to celebrate on this night, but the Giants did get Jake McGee back on the mound for the first time since Sept. 12 -- and he looked like normal Jake McGee. In fact, he might have been the sharpest Giants pitcher to take the mound all night.

McGee had a 1-2-3 seventh inning against the heart of the Dodgers' order, although he got a little help from Kris Bryant, who made a diving grab in center field:

McGee also induced Corey Seager and Justin Turner to ground out. After missing most of September with an oblique strain, McGee averaged 95.2 mph with his fastball, and topped out at 96.

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