Johnny Cueto was still at home getting dressed when he saw Giants teammate and backup infielder Pablo Sandoval pitch a perfect ninth inning during the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Dodgers.
It wasn’t exactly a Shohei Ohtani moment but it was enough to make Cueto smile before he followed up with a strong outing of his own on the mound.
Austin Jackson hit a go-ahead three-run double in the fifth inning, Cueto won his third consecutive decision and San Francisco beat Los Angeles 8-3 for a split of their doubleheader.
Asked if he went over any of the Dodgers hitters with Sandoval, Cueto chuckled.
“No, no, no. Not at all,” Cueto said through a translator. “I wasn’t even here when Pablo pitched. I just saw him on TV when I was getting ready for me to come to the stadium.”
In the first game, Chase Utley hit three doubles and a single as the Los Angeles did damage against every San Francisco pitcher except Sandoval and routed the Giants 15-6 after losing Yasiel Puig to an injured foot and hip earlier in the day.
It was almost the complete opposite in the nightcap, although the statistics weren’t nearly as gaudy.
The Giants got nine hits and strung four of them together in the fifth to erase a two-run deficit.
Brandon Belt, Kelby Tomlinson and Brandon Crawford hit consecutive one-out singles off Dodgers starter Alex Wood (0-3) before Jackson doubled to left to drive in all three. Belt added an RBI single in the sixth.
“It’s all about timely hitting in some games and we certainly got them tonight,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We get pummeled pretty good the first game, we get down two and we needed somebody to come through for us and deliver, and (Jackson) did.”
Evan Longoria and Kelby Tomlinson drove in two runs apiece in the seventh when San Francisco batted around.
Cueto (3-0) yielded a two-run home run to Corey Seager in the first but settled down to go six mostly crisp innings. Cueto struck out three, walked two and 16 of the final 18 he faced.
Four relievers combined to retire the final nine batters and complete the five-hitter.
“Sometimes you try to be very aggressive in the first inning,” Cueto said “I was trying to be aggressive. They touched me for a couple runs but then after that it was just being myself.”
The Dodgers had a season-high 21 hits in the opener including leadoff man Chris Taylor’s fourth home run but couldn’t solve Sandoval, who worked a perfect ninth in his first major league pitching appearance. They also lost right fielder Yasiel Puig to a foot and hip injury after he ran into a wall.
“This is just a bad stretch, and I know with the talent that we have if we continue to put forth that effort and play that way and prepare that way, the wins will be there,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s more magnified right now and it’s not pretty.”
Sandoval was summoned from third base to begin the ninth and retired three straight batters on grounders. The 2012 World Series MVP threw 11 pitches, helping preserve the Giants’ bullpen for the second game. He also had a hit and an RBI.
“It’s not that easy, but I do everything I can to save some bullpen for the next game,” Sandoval said. “We lost the game, but we had a little fun at the end of the game.”
Puig made a running one-handed catch and ran into a padded wall at AT&T Park while chasing down Nick Hundley’s deep foul to end the first inning. He later fouled a ball off his foot while batting in the second inning and underwent X-rays which were negative.
“It hurts a little bit. But hopefully, God willing, I can get better with treatment,” Puig said through a translator.
Prior to the second game the Giants optioned RHP Robert Gomez to Triple-A Sacramento and called up LHP DJ Snelten. The Dodgers optioned LHP Scott Alexander to Oklahoma and recalled OF Alex Verduga.
Dodgers: OF Matt Kemp did not start either game after leaving Friday’s contest with tightness in his left quad. He singled and scored as a pinch-hitter in the first game and grounded out as a pinch-hitter to end the second game.
Giants: 2B Joe Panik will seek a second opinion after being placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb. Bochy did not rule out surgery. … OF Mac Williamson was put on the seven-day concussion list. … Reliever Mark Melancon was transferred to the 60-day DL and RHP Derek Law was appointed as the 26th man for the doubleheader. … OF Austin Slater was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento.
Right-hander Kenta Maeda (2-1, 3.10 ERA) pitches the series finale for the Dodgers on Sunday while lefty Ty Blach (1-3, 4.31) goes for the Giants. The starting time of the game was pushed back to 2 p.m. PT because of Saturday’s doubleheader.