LOS ANGELES Monday night's marquee pitching matchup at Dodger Stadium somehow managed to exceed expectations.
Madison Bumgarner got the better of Clayton Kershaw through eight innings to lead the Giants to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With the win, the Giants moved back into first place in the National League West.
Both pitchers were on their game, combining for 20 strikeouts and no walks. But Kershaw paid for an early mistake.
Angel Pagan led off the game with a double and went to third on Marco Scutaro's sacrifice bunt before scoring on Pablo Sandoval's sacrifice fly.
After Pagan's double, Kershaw retired 16 of the next 17 batters and was in such a groove that he didn't throw his 10th ball until midway through the fourth inning.
But the Giants struck again in the sixth, and again, Pagan was in the middle of the action. He reached on a two-out infield single and went to second on Scutaro's single. Sandoval singled softly to left, and Pagan raced around third and slid under the tag at home.
Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, lost to the Giants twice earlier in the season thanks to strong pitching performances by Ryan Vogelsong. Bumgarner proved to be an even tougher opponent.
The Dodgers crushed the ball in the first inning, but fly balls off the bats of Shane Victorino and Matt Kemp died on the warning track. Bumgarner settled in nicely after the dangerous start, striking out seven through five innings.
Victorino reached on a fielder's choice in the sixth and stole second and third with two outs. But Bumgarner struck out Kemp on a slider.
Bumgarner struck out two more in the eighth and exited after 123 pitches, the second-highest total of his career and second-highest total by a Giant this year, trailing Matt Cain's 125 pitches in his perfect game against Houston.
Bumgarner lowered his ERA to 2.83, the lowest by any N.L. left-hander.
Sergio Romo gave up a two-out, two-strike homer to Hanley Ramirez in the ninth, but Javier Lopez earned the save by getting Andre Ethier to ground out to end the game.
Et cetera Giants manager Bruce Bochy said there's a "good chance" Buster Posey won't be behind the plate tonight. Bochy was still trying to decide whether he would put Posey at first base or give him a full day off. If Posey doesn't catch Tim Lincecum, it will be the ninth time in the right-hander's last 11 starts that he throws to someone other than Posey.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who was the New York Yankees' hitting coach when Melky Cabrera broke into the majors with the Yankees in 2005, said he was shocked when he heard Cabrera had been suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy. "It just looked like he got himself into better shape, honestly. He got leaner."
N.L. WEST RACE
Starting with Monday night's game, the Giants and Dodgers meet nine times in the final seven weeks of the regular season. Here's where they stand in the National League West:
Team W L Pct. GB
Giants 67 55 .549
Dodgers 66 55 .545 1/2