Dodgers rough up Logan Webb as SF Giants drop third in a row

LOS ANGELES — With a pitching staff depleted by injuries, a roster spot taken up by a starter who won’t pitch until the fourth series of the season and a bullpen that has been the worst in the majors through the early part of the season, the Giants needed nothing more Tuesday night than innings out of their starting pitcher.

There was perhaps no better candidate to have on the mound than Logan Webb, their ace who recorded more outs than any other pitcher in the game last season. Since ascending to the top of the Giants’ rotation, Webb had taken the ball 36 times and made it through at least five frames in all but three of those starts.

Make that four.

Manager Bob Melvin emerged from the first-base dugout with an out to go in the fourth inning. He outstretched his right arm, signaling to the bullpen. Webb’s final four pitches were four uncompetitive balls to Shohei Ohtani, the ninth batter to reach base of the 20 Dodgers to come to the plate against the Giants’ ace.

Webb’s night was over after 3⅔ innings, seven hits, five runs, two walks and a homer. He departed with the Giants in a 5-2 hole from which they never recovered in a 5-4 loss, dropping their third game in a row and their second straight to their archrivals.

“Just not very good,” Webb said. “It’s a good team over there. Bad counts, stuff left over the plate. Not very good. I definitely didn’t throw my changeup enough. That’s one thing. I don’t even know how many full counts I got into, but it felt like there was a lot of them. You just can’t do that against this team.”

After splitting their four-game series to open the season in San Diego, the Giants cannot return home better than a game below .500.

Against an amalgam of bullpen arms, the Giants didn’t go quietly.

Wilmer Flores and Matt Chapman each doubled and scored to give the Giants their first two runs, and Jorge Soler connected for his first home run in orange and black. Ryan Yarbrough tried to sneak a 2-1 curveball in for a strike, and Soler punished it 384 feet to left center for a solo shot that started a two-run sixth.

Although Soler entered the game batting .167 and still seeking his first extra-base hit, Melvin said before first pitch that “it feels like he’s really close,” comments that sounded prescient just a few hours later.

“I was trying to concentrate more on those pitches that I can do damage with,” Soler said through Spanish-language interpreter Erwin Higueros. “The previous at-bat (Yarbrough) threw me a curve and I told myself if he throws it again, I’m going to be waiting for it.”

The rally was snuffed out when Max Muncy — a Giant killer on both sides of the ball — snared a would-be single from Thairo Estrada for the first out, and Austin Slater’s pinch-hit fly ball off Alex Vesia found the glove of Kiké Hernandez on the warning track, just missing what would have been a go-ahead home run.

The five runs allowed by Webb matched the second-most he has surrendered in 13 career starts against the Dodgers. In six previous starts at Dodger Stadium, he had a 2.45 ERA, never allowing more than three runs. It was his shortest start since he recorded only four outs against the Nationals last July 22.

After allowing 29 runs on 37 hits in six Cactus League starts, Webb has surrendered seven runs on 12 hits through his first two starts of the regular season.

“He’s a good pitcher that had a tough outing,” Melvin said. “His stuff looked pretty good. He was behind in some counts and there were some two-strike hits. They have some guys with some decent numbers. They made him work. Made him throw a lot of pitches. Obviously not his best outing.”

The home run came courtesy of Mookie Betts, who took a changeup below the strike zone and deposited it beyond left field. It was Betts’ league-leading fifth of the season, while he finished the night batting .500 with a 1.772 OPS. His career numbers against Webb are only slightly worse, taking him deep for a second time to improve to 14-for-33 (.424), including the postseason.

“He’s the best player in baseball, I think,” Webb said. “Maybe it’s just because he hits like .500 against me. But I think he hits .500 against everybody. I think he’s gotten me on that pitch before. That was the home run he had before. I threw it where I wanted to. Unfortunately it was a homer.”

Bridging the gap to their regularly scheduled relievers, Landen Roupp kept the Giants in the game with two scoreless innings. After putting the first two runners of the sixth on base, Roupp recovered by striking out Hernandez and Betts for two of his four punchouts — all with his signature curveball.

Roupp buckled Betts’ knees with a two-strike breaking ball that ended up being his final pitch, giving way to lefty Taylor Rogers for the favorable matchup against Ohtani. Rogers coaxed a soft grounder for the third out, but Melvin said he could envision Roupp finishing the inning in the not-so-distant future.

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“He’s becoming a guy that we feel really good about,” Melvin said. “I even told him when I took him out, ‘There’s going to be a time where I don’t take you out there.’ For him to pitch the way he did and has continued to pitch for a guy with very little experience and had to go through that order, I think he’s gaining a lot of confidence going forward.

Roupp remains the Giants’ only reliever yet to allow a run this season, though the group held its own Tuesday with 4⅓ scoreless innings behind Webb.

“That’s a tough team to hold scoreless, especially when they have some momentum and have scored some runs,” Melvin said. “They kept us in the game. We had an opportunity to come back. We had some guys on. Could potentially tie it or win it. Just couldn’t get that big hit again.”

Up next

The Giants have one more game, a 7:10 p.m. series finale, before returning to San Francisco for their home opener Friday. Kyle Harrison will get the ball against Dodgers ace Tyler Glasnow as San Francisco looks to avoid a sweep.

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