LOS ANGELES — After building a cushion in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers are still being extremely careful with Rich Hill and his pesky blister.
Hill was pulled after throwing 77 pitches in five effective innings Tuesday night, and the Dodgers lost 2-0 to the San Francisco Giants.
Los Angeles’ division lead was trimmed to five games over second-place San Francisco with 11 to play. The Giants pulled into a three-way tie with the Mets and Cardinals for the two NL wild cards.
Hill (12-5) allowed only one run on Eduardo Nunez’s homer. He gave up six hits while striking out seven and walking one.
“It was more of preservation,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s the blister that we’re consciously trying to monitor. I think where we’re at, it’s a very important game, but I just didn’t know how much longer he was going to go. It was going to be another inning at the most anyway. I felt that was good for him.”
Blister issues delayed Hill’s debut with the Dodgers for almost a month after he was acquired from Oakland at the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The left-hander also was lifted by Roberts with a perfect game in progress after seven innings this month due to concerns about a recurrence.
The training staff monitors Hill and the area where he had his blister between every inning.
“For me, when I’m out there and have the ball in my hand to pitch, to be honest, that’s all I’m thinking about,” Hill said. “It’s not about anything else that I can’t control except executing pitches.”
Despite a solid performance, Hill wasn’t pleased following his fifth start for Los Angeles.
“I threw the ball well, but at the end of the day it was disappointing,” he said. “One mistake to Nunez, a fastball that was supposed to be down. Completely missed all the way in. He did his job and what he should’ve done with the pitch. I take 100 percent responsibility for this. It’s not acceptable to miss like that at this level.”
The Giants weren’t surprised to see Hill make an early exit.
“He has some really, really good stuff,” San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence said. “They haven’t been pitching him too many pitches so I wasn’t totally shocked. That is kind of the way they manage their staff over there.”
Brandon Belt homered in the ninth for San Francisco, which overcame injuries to All-Star pitcher Johnny Cueto and shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Cueto (17-5) left in the sixth with a strained groin, but the much-maligned Giants bullpen delivered as three relievers combined to pitch shutout ball over the final 3 2/3 innings.
Cueto is scheduled to have an MRI on Wednesday.
Crawford came out with a dislocated left pinky in the second. An X-ray was negative, and the Giants said he is day to day.
The Giants have 29 blown saves, but the bullpen did its job this time following Cueto’s early departure. Sergio Romo earned his first save of the season with a hitless ninth.
“It was just one of those times where it was a really big win for us,” Romo said. “We really needed that.”
The Dodgers went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“That was the key to the game,” Roberts said. “There were some balls hit hard with guys on base and just at guys.”
UP IN THE BOOTH
It was Vin Scully bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium. A sellout crowd gave the longtime broadcaster a loud standing ovation before the game, and Scully responded in kind.
The bobblehead featured Scully with his hands over his heart thanking fans, depicting a warm moment from opening day this year. Scully is retiring after this season, his 67th in the booth. His final game will be Oct. 2 when the Dodgers play at San Francisco in their regular-season finale.
The attendance of 53,621 was the largest regular-season crowd in Major League Baseball since Aug. 30, 2012, when the Dodgers had another Scully bobblehead giveaway.
DON’T LOOK AT ME
Following a bench-clearing scuffle involving Madison Bumgarner and Yasiel Puig on Monday night, Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and other Dodgers posted pictures on social media of themselves wearing T-shirts with the hashtag “#Dontlookatme” with hands covering their eyes.
Roberts was fine with his team having fun with the heated situation Monday.
“Technology. People are quick these days,” Roberts said. “I heard about it. I do (like that they had fun). You get two guys competing. They know what’s at stake. Emotions get in the way sometimes. I don’t think there’s anything else to it.”
Corey Seager doubled in the third, becoming the first Dodgers rookie to have 40 doubles in one season. He was 3 for 4.
Dodgers LHP Alex Wood (elbow surgery) came off the 60-day disabled list and RHP Bud Norris was designated for assignment. The Dodgers plan to use Wood out of the bullpen, coming in to start innings. … LHP Brett Anderson (blister) will return to the rotation and start on Thursday. … RHP Brandon McCarthy (right hip stiffness) threw a simulated game of five innings and 75 pitches.
Giants: LHP Matt Moore nearly threw a no-hitter the last time he was on the mound at Dodger Stadium. He went 8 2/3 innings before Seager ruined the no-hit bid with a blooper to right field.
Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (15-9, 3.24 ERA) has given up only four earned runs and struck out 17 over his last three games covering 17 1/3 innings. He has made two starts against the Giants this season and gone 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA.
This story has been corrected to show that Brandon Belt homered in the ninth inning for the Giants, not Hunter Pence.