Late Giants rally falls flat in yet another frustrating loss to Dodgers

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Too little too late: Giants rally in ninth, drop third straight originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

LOS ANGELES -- When the Giants briefly threatened after eight quiet innings Saturday, their rally included contributions from a utility player who was in Triple-A with the White Sox earlier this year, an outfielder who started the year with the Sacramento River Cats, a young infielder who is filling in for the injured Brandon Crawford, and a rookie catcher who returned to the big leagues because of an injury.

It was effective and had a call gone the Giants' way, it might have worked. It was also a far cry from what the Dodgers offered.

Former MVP Mookie Betts homered, perennial MVP candidate Trea Turner followed with his own solo blast, and former MVP Freddie Freeman added his own homer as the Dodgers built a lead in a game they would go on to win 4-2. Their lineup is imposing at all times, but in this series -- which thus far has resulted in three Giants losses -- it has truly shown off its star power.

Those three were joined by Julio Urias, who threw six dominant innings to outduel Alex Wood. The Giants lefty struck out five straight at one point, but Betts ended that run with a solo blast and Turner immediately hit another.

"I mean, that's what they're built to do," Wood said. "They see a lot of pitches, grind guys down, don't chase a lot out of the zone, and then when they get a mistake they try and make you pay. I thought I threw pretty (well). They just kind of ground me down to a nub. That was a lot of pitches in four-plus innings, but that's kind of how they're built.

"(Their) lineup doesn't really give up, one through nine, especially the top half of their order. You've got a bunch of superstars and not the kind that just do damage against middling pitchers and opponents. They're the kind that hit for average, hit for slug, walks -- the whole gambit. It's a tough lineup."

Even with the first three batters in the opposing lineup going deep, the Giants somehow had a chance to stun the Dodgers at the end. Closer Craig Kimbrel was unavailable after pitching the previous two days and Alex Vesia also seemed off-limits. The Dodgers already were without injured right-handers Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol.

That left the ninth to former Giant Reyes Moronta, who retired Brandon Belt and Joc Pederson before walking Thairo Estrada and Yermin Mercedes with two outs. Luis Gonzalez got the Giants on the board with a single and Joey Bart's flare set up a pretty nice situation.

Austin Slater has been the hottest hitter in the lineup in July and already reached base three times. He crushes lefties in general and got a chance to face veteran southpaw David Price with the tying run on first, but Slater went down on a 2-2 fastball that was just off the inside edge.

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Slater declined to comment on the strike zone. Manager Gabe Kapler said he hadn't watched a replay, but he was told when he came back into the clubhouse that the final pitch was a ball.

"He did everything right in that at-bat, he attacked all the right pitches, he took some really strong swings on some Price fastballs," Kapler said of Slater. "Price is a veteran pitcher. He knew that he was going to make his best possible pitch. I'm sure there were some calls that went both ways today, that's usually how it goes.

"We don't spend too much time dwelling on that stuff but (Slater) is a very disciplined hitter and if he's one ball ahead in that count, something really good has a chance to happen."

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