SAN FRANCISCO -- The rivalry between the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers is heating up. The Giants' bats, however, remain frozen.
The Giants had just four hits, three against Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers got to Sergio Romo in the ninth, handing the Giants a 4-1 loss Sunday that was their 11th in 13 games. The Giants dropped their fifth straight series and in the last two weeks have lost five of six to a Dodgers team that continues to ascend the standings. The Giants continue to nose-dive and now are a season-high 6½ games out of first place.
While walking away with a late victory, the Dodgers felt they also got a measure of revenge. After closing out the Dodgers on Saturday, Romo mimicked Hanley Ramirez's "lo viste" gesture in which the star shortstop uses his fingers to frame his eyes. When A.J. Ellis cleared the bases with a double in the ninth on Sunday, electric rookie Yasiel Puig could be seen yelling at Romo as he crossed the plate. Ramirez emphatically celebrated from the top step of the visiting dugout.
Romo declined to talk to reporters, but Puig, who flipped his bat after a ninth-inning single, seems fully ready to embrace every aspect of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry.
"Yesterday, (Romo) struck me out, he controlled Hanley, and he celebrated. Today, it was our turn to celebrate," Puig told reporters in Spanish. "We were screaming at him, but it wasn't anything bad. That's a rivalry they've had for a long time. That's what I like, for there to be rivalries between teams, provided nothing bad happens to my teammates.
"The fans can be more emotional watching us."
The sellout crowd at AT&T Park was certainly fired up from the start, and Chad Gaudin and Kershaw did not disappoint. In his return from the disabled list, Gaudin threw seven strong innings to match Kershaw step for step.
The Dodgers jumped on top early, getting a triple from Ramirez and RBI single from Andre Ethier in the second inning. But Guillermo Quiroz helped to tie the game in the third inning, hitting a leadoff double, taking third on a wild pitch and scoring on Andres Torres' fly ball to center. Gaudin and Kershaw took over from there, cruising into the late innings. Gaudin gave up just four hits and struck out nine and has a 2.86 ERA in five starts.
"He was good, he was really good," manager Bruce Bochy said. "When you're going against a pitcher like Kershaw, you're hoping your guy is on. He really did a really, really nice job there to give us a chance to win, but once again we ran into a well-pitched game by Kershaw.
"He's one of the best, and he shut us down."
Kershaw is one of two leading candidates to start for Bochy in the All-Star game on July 16, along with New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey, who pitches at AT&T Park on Monday. The Dodgers' left-hander again made his case Sunday, giving up just the lone run over eight innings. In four starts against the Giants this year, Kershaw is 3-0 and has allowed just four earned runs in 32 innings. But even with Kershaw dominating, the Giants found themselves in a tie game heading into the ninth.
Before the game, Bochy said he anticipated naming Romo to the All-Star team when replacements are picked for pitchers who opt not to play after starting the final game of the first half. Bochy turned to Romo in the ninth, but the Dodgers immediately got into gear.
Puig hit a leadoff single and took third when Buster Posey made a throwing error on Adrian Gonzalez's infield single. Romo buckled down, getting two outs, the second after loading the bases with an intentional walk of Andre Ethier. But Ellis lined an 0-1 slider into the left-center field gap, scoring three.
"It just hung up in the strike zone," Quiroz said. "Sergio had a really good slider. That was the only one he threw up in the strike zone."
"His last outing was better," Bochy said. "We told him that, and gave him some things to work on."
N.Y. Mets (Matt Harvey 7-2) at Giants (Tim Lincecum 4-9), 7:15 p.m. CSNBA