Walker Buehler shines again as Dodgers dominate Giants

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Los Angeles Dodgers' Walker Buehler, right, celebrates with Billy McKinney (29) after both scored on a double by Max Muncy during the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Dodgers' Walker Buehler, right, celebrates with Billy McKinney after both scored on a double by Max Muncy during the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday in San Francisco. (Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

There was no late-game meltdown or bullpen collapse, no hand-wringing or nail-biting in the dugout.

The Dodgers turned Oracle Park into a stress-free zone with a pristine performance Wednesday night, Walker Buehler delivering one of his patented big-game starts and the offense busting out for 13 hits in an 8-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants before a crowd of 33,728.

Buehler celebrated his 27th birthday by giving up three hits in seven shutout innings, striking out eight and walking two to improve to 11-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 21 starts this season and 7-0 with a 1.83 ERA in 12 games against the Giants.

The Dodgers, who scored five runs in their previous three games, scored four without the benefit of a home run in the third inning, a rally highlighted by Will Smith’s two-run triple.

They broke open the game with a three-run seventh that featured Buehler’s RBI fielder’s-choice grounder and Max Muncy’s two-run double off the base of the center-field wall.

And, just for good measure, Cody Bellinger, who is showing signs of emerging from a brutal season-long slump, lofted a solo homer over the right-field wall in the eighth, his fifth of the season and first since July 10.

Muncy and AJ Pollock each had three hits, as the Dodgers, who blew ninth-inning leads in two losses to San Francisco last week and committed an error that allowed the Giants to score the winning run in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, cut San Francisco’s National League West lead to two games.

“Yeah, we’ve played a lot of tight games, so to have a game like this where you just relax and cruise a little bit, those are fun,” Pollock said. “The pitchers did an outstanding job, and seeing the offense clicking, scratching runs across early in the game, late in game, it was a good win, for sure.”

Buehler has completed six innings or more in 20 of 21 starts and given up three earned runs or fewer in 19 of those games.

He threw 98 pitches Wednesday night, 70 for strikes, but induced only eight swinging strikes with a six-pitch repertoire that leaned heavily on a 95-mph fastball, 91-mph cut-fastball and 79-mph curve.

“Walker is nasty,” Pollock said. “He’s just dialed in. It doesn’t look like a fun at-bat up there for any of them. He’s fun to watch.”

Chris Taylor sparked the third-inning rally with a one-out, nine-pitch walk off Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani, and Muncy singled to right-center. Justin Turner blooped an RBI single to right, Smith lashed his second-career triple into the gap in right-center, and Pollock hit a two-out RBI single to center for a 4-0 lead.

DeSclafani fell to 1-8 with a 6.47 ERA in 11 starts against the Dodgers, his only win against them coming in his major league debut in May 14, 2014. He has a 9.43 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers this season and a 1.78 ERA in his 16 other starts.

Seager nears return

The long-awaited return of shortstop Corey Seager, who has experienced several setbacks in his recovery from a right-hand fracture, appears imminent. Manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday that “our hope is there is going to be an activation this weekend,” when the Dodgers play a three-game series at Phoenix.

Seager played in simulated games at the team’s Phoenix spring-training complex on Tuesday and Wednesday, and he’s scheduled for another game Thursday. Barring a setback, he will rejoin the Dodgers Saturday or Sunday.

Short hops

Mookie Betts (right-hip inflammation) took ground balls, ran and played catch Wednesday and will likely be activated Sunday, Roberts said. … Clayton Kershaw (left-elbow inflammation) will throw another simulated game, of four innings and about 60 pitches, Sunday before returning to the rotation late next week. … Trevor Bauer’s hearing on whether a woman who has accused him of sexual assault should be granted a restraining order has been moved to Aug. 16-18, according to a Los Angeles Superior Court filing Wednesday. The hearing had been set for Aug. 2-3 and Aug. 19. Bauer is on paid administrative leave through Aug. 6, but the new hearing dates likely mean the league and the players union will seek another extension of the leave.

Staff writer Steve Henson contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.