SAN FRANCISCO – His rotation in limbo with two starters missing, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts knows the defending World Series champs would be in a lot worse shape without Walker Buehler.
The All-Star right-hander pitched three-hit ball over seven dominant innings for Los Angeles to extend his mastery of the San Francisco Giants in an 8-0 victory Wednesday night.
“He’s been huge,” Roberts said. “We all know how good he is in October. The challenge for him, the next level, was to put it together in the regular season. He’s done that to this point. To throw 100 pitches and go deep into games with the consistency, it’s been a big bonus considering all that we’ve had to go through this year.”
The Dodgers had lost three straight against their division rivals and were three games behind the first-place Giants in the NL West before Buehler’s gem on his 27th birthday.
Buehler (11-1) baffled the Giants with an effective mix of his four-seam fastball, sharp cutter and knuckle curve. He had eight strikeouts – three looking – and walked two.
“(Catcher Will Smith) did a really good job of keeping me on both sides of the plate and moving the ball around,” Buehler said. “It’s a big series against a team that’s leading the division. A big win for us.”
Buehler, whose only loss this season came against the Cubs on June 24 when the Dodgers were shut out, improved to 7-0 lifetime against the Giants. In five starts versus San Francisco this season, he is 3-0 with a 0.79 ERA.
The pitcher also drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder in the seventh.
“He’s nasty,” Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock said. “He’s just dialed in. It doesn’t look like a fun at-bat up there for anyone. He’s fun to watch.”
Mitch White retired six batters to complete the five-hitter.
Cody Bellinger homered for Los Angeles. Pollock and Max Muncy had three hits apiece.
The Giants managed five singles and had only two runners reach second base – one when Buehler bounced a full-count pitch past Smith in the sixth.
“He has good stuff,” Giants cleanup hitter Wilmer Flores said. “I got only one mistake and it was a fly ball. When you’re facing pitchers like that you have to be ready for that mistake. If you miss it it’s going to be a long game like today.”
The Dodgers batted around and chased starter Anthony DeSclafani (10-5) in the third. Justin Turner had an RBI single and Smith tripled to drive in two more. Pollock bounced a two-out single up the middle to make it 4-0.
DeSclafani fell to 1-8 in his career against the Dodgers after retiring just eight batters. He allowed six hits and four runs.
“The Dodgers ran his pitch count up pretty good, and kept grinding,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “Anthony just ran out of gas. He did make some mistakes and missed with some locations. They’re going to punish those mistakes.”
Bellinger homered off John Brebbia in the eighth.
Dodgers: Roberts anticipates OF Mookie Betts will come off the injured list when he’s eligible to play Sunday in Arizona. Betts worked out before the game without setback from the right hip inflammation that has kept him out since July 25. … LHP Clayton Kershaw responded well after throwing 45 pitches in a three-inning simulated game Tuesday. Kershaw will pitch another one Sunday and Roberts said the plan is to have the three-time Cy Young Award winner make his return Aug. 7 against the Angels.
Giants: C Buster Posey came out of the game to begin the fourth after taking a foul ball off his mask earlier and was checked for a concussion. … Indications are that SS Brandon Crawford will come off the injured list in time for Thursday’s game at Oracle Park. Crawford has made steady progress in rehabbing from a left oblique strain. … 1B Brandon Belt (right knee) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday.
Dodgers LHP David Price (4-0, 3.35 ERA) will make his seventh start Thursday at Oracle Park. All four of Price’s wins this season have come in relief.
RHP Johnny Cueto (6-5, 4.09) pitches for the Giants. Cueto has already won as many games as he did the previous three seasons combined.
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