LOS ANGELES -- In the biggest game of the year for the Giants, Matt Moore delivered the best game of his life. He fell one out shy of a no-hitter Thursday, broken up by Corey Seager's soft single to right with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but beat the Dodgers, 4-0, to snap his club's four-game losing streak. The decision prevented the Giants from being swept in this showdown series and trimmed their deficit behind the first-place Dodgers to two games in the National League West.
Nearly pitching the Giants' first no-hitter over the Dodgers in 101 years (by Rube Marquard), Moore (8-10) walked three and struck out seven in 8 2/3 innings. He was removed immediately after Seager's hit, having thrown a career-high 133 pitches. Right-hander Santiago Casilla threw just one pitch to retire Justin Turner on a foul popup.
The last Giant to lose a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning was Yusmeiro Petit, who stymied the Arizona Diamondbacks until pinch-hitter Eric Chavez singled on Sept. 6, 2013. The last Major Leaguer to endure the same fate was Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco, whose path to baseball immortality was blocked by Tampa Bay's Joey Butler on July 1, 2015.
The defensive highlights were turned in by center fielder Denard Span, who robbed Adrian Gonzalez with a long run and shoestring catch in the second inning, then preserved the gem with a diving catch of Kiké Hernandez's sinking liner leading off the bottom of the ninth. Moore threw a no-hitter in Double-A in 2011.
"There were balls that I conceded as hits," Moore said. "The defense has to make those plays that don't always get made."
Joe Panik slugged a two-run homer off Ross Stripling (3-5) in a three-run fourth inning and nothing more was needed by Moore, a non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisition by the Giants four days after he beat the Dodgers while pitching for Tampa Bay. The Giants added an unearned run in the sixth inning on a Span RBI single after third baseman Turner's fielding error. Stripling was facing the Giants for the first time since no-hitting them for 7 1/3 innings in his Major League debut April 8.
Manager Dave Roberts, insisting the Dodgers achieved their goal of winning the series by taking the first two games, added the hit by Seager on his bobblehead night took the sting out of the loss.
"In some weird way, it does," said Roberts. "They really wanted to salvage the series. For us to potentially get no-hit, and for Corey to break it up, it salvages it for us in a strange way."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED High-powered battery: Moore and catcher Buster Posey worked in concert all night. Given the fact that Posey had caught three no-hitters (Matt Cain's perfect game, 2012; Tim Lincecum, 2013; and Chris Heston, 2015), Moore, making his fifth start as a Giant, knew he could trust his receiver.
"Today I relied heavily on Buster and put that part of the game, of the thinking, in his hands," Moore said.
Even when Moore shook off Posey's signs, the latter knew the right pitch call was being made.
Told of Moore's stated reliance on him, Posey said, "I think that's him being nice. From the get-go he was shaking to pitches and giving me a feel for how he wanted to attack the guys. I think we were able to get into a nice rhythm from the midpoint or so." More »
Not turning two: Stripling had a chance to minimize damage in the fourth after Brandon Crawford's leadoff single when he leaped to glove Eduardo Nunez's high hopper, but he dropped the ball and instead of a double play settled for the out at first. Brandon Belt then defeated the Dodgers' defensive shift with an RBI single to score Crawford, and Panik followed with his homer.
The backstory: Moore underwent Tommy John elbow surgery on April 22, 2014, and has been striving to regain his arm strength since then. The Dodgers found out that his recovery has been steady, as he consistently reached the mid-90s with his fastball.
"I'm to the point now with the injury where I really focus on the things I learned from it, as opposed to the dark side of being out a year and a half," said Moore, who was limited to 12 starts last year. "Just understanding my body -- I have to listen to it a little better."
Tough out: Hernandez thought for sure he had broken up the no-hitter leading off the ninth, only to be robbed by Span.
"It's a tough league. Big leagues," he said. "He's a good center fielder and off the bat I was pretty happy, thought sure double, and he caught it. Broke my heart for a little bit."
"It stinks, there's no other way around it. Obviously, it's a great win, but at that point you're pulling for the guy to get it done." --Posey, on Moore's no-hit bid.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Exemplifying the symmetry of baseball luck, it turned out that Panik's home run was his first since June 18 at Tampa Bay -- a game Moore started for the Rays more than a month before he was traded to San Francisco. In fact, Moore hit Panik with a pitch in that game.
REALLY BIG LEAGUING IT
The trade of A.J. Ellis before the game left the Dodgers scrambling for a backup catcher. They sent one of ownership's private jets to pick up Shawn Zarraga at Triple-A Oklahoma City, fly him to Burbank, then whisked him to the ballpark. He arrived in the top of the fourth inning for his first two-thirds of a game as a Major Leaguer.
"It was a 12-seater and it was just me and the pilot, but I got to sit next to him and that was cool," said Zarraga.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: Right-hander Jeff Samardzija will christen Friday night's 7:15 PT opener of a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves. San Francisco owns a 12-13 record when he starts.
Dodgers:Bud Norris opens the Cubs series Friday night, in a 7:10 p.m. PT game, looking to improve on his past two starts. He faced two batters July 31, went on the disabled list with a back injury, lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his first start back Aug. 19 and three days later in a relief appearance retired two of five batters he faced. He beat the Cubs on June 10 while with Atlanta, allowing one run in seven innings.