Dodgers back on track with a wild win of their own

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers played with Pick-Up Sticks on the coffee table Saturday; Legos were in the basement.

Pieces were scattered everywhere, yet the Dodgers were able to rally for a 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants, avenging a brutal defeat by the same score one night earlier, when their no-hitter into the eighth inning was not enough.

The Dodgers' historic, season-opening sweep over the San Diego Padres was but a memory by the time the Duel by the Bay -- Clayton Kershaw vs. Madison Bumgarner -- started a tad late Saturday afternoon because of the weather.

A 25-0 scoring advantage over the Padres earlier in the week was sullied by a pair of momentum-busting defeats to the Giants to start the current series. But the Dodgers' win on Saturday came courtesy from bench help and an amoeba defensive configuration that deserved points for creativity.

Charlie Culberson started at shortstop and ended up in left field. Joc Pederson started on the bench, came into the game and only stayed long enough to record an at-bat.

When the game ended, and the winning rally was complete, Austin Barnes was at catcher, Chase Utley was at third after playing at second, Trayce Thompson had switched positions three times and Kenta Maeda had been told that he would pinch-hit the next inning if the Giants happened to tie the game.

Now that is the epitome of all over the place.

The Dodgers had been 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position at one point and finished the game 2-for-21 in that department, so they had their chances. They led off an inning with a double and stranded the runner four times.

The trick? Corey Seager doubled with one out in the 10th inning and Culberson followed with a double that produced the deciding run.

"That was baseball," Culberson said. "It's always fun playing here. The crowd is always in the game. At certain points, this stadium is rumbling, but it's fun, yeah."

Depending on how you look at it, Culberson was either the 24th or 25th guy named to the Opening Day roster. He might not last past the road trip, with Howie Kendrick expected to return by Tuesday.

He might have bought himself some time, though, after playing a steady shortstop in place of Seager, who was not asked to start against the left-handed Bumgarner. Culberson eventually found himself in left field as the dominoes started to fall after a back injury to Scott Van Slyke and Carl Crawford's placement on the disabled list Saturday with his own back issue.

Culberson's diving catch in the outfield, to end the eighth inning, preserved Kershaw's solid outing.

"Charlie, all spring training I don't think we realized how good he was defensively, at every spot," Kershaw said. "It's tough to play shortstop as it is, and he played shortstop really, really well, which is a huge benefit for us. I know he played left field at Colorado some, just from playing against him. But I don't think he did this spring at all, and to go out and make that play is pretty impressive."

Versatility is coveted by major league teams, not only with an ability to play multiple positions, but to also adept at different spots of the lineup.

"You get a guy who can play defense and you're able to get a bunch of right-handed hitters in the lineup [against Bumgarner], so I really feel confident with his defense when you rest Corey," manager Dave Roberts said. "You know he's going to catch the baseball at short, and to be able to put him in left field, you see the play he made out there in left-center, the diving catch."

Yet it still took injuries to Andre Ethier and Kendrick just to open a roster spot for Culberson.

"Charlie is here for the right reasons, and for me, that was one of the real joys to tell him he made this club out of spring training, because guys that are here for the right reasons, play the game the right way, that's what we're trying to create," Roberts said.

The added twist in all of it: Culberson was a fifth-round draft pick by the Giants in 2007, but he played in just six big league games with them in 2012. He moved to Colorado later in 2012, playing 27 games for the Rockies in left field in 2013.

"It was kind of a last-second thing," Culberson said. "I told them [the Dodgers] I could play left, one thing led to another and it was kind of an intense ballgame. I just tried to relax. Left is not the easiest, especially coming from the infield, but you just kind of react and have fun out there."

What's more fun than running around in the rain, making diving catches and delivering the game-winning hit, all on borrowed time since it took a couple of injuries to make his opportunity happen?

"It was a nasty game today with all of the weather and the rain, but honestly, I'm playing major league baseball so I'm not going to complain too much," Culberson said. "That's kind of the bottom line. I'm definitely happy to be playing baseball right now."

Fun and games.