The Dodgers' situation is still desperate -- trailing by 4 1/2 games with 23 games left -- but it's not quite hopeless. Saturday they scrapped for single runs in three of the last four innings to beat Matt Cain and the Giants' bullpen.
The Dodgers remain in the thick of the wild-card hunt, with four crucial games against the St. Louis Cardinals looming next week in L.A.
Late redemption. The Dodgers were having to get through the middle of their order before they could think about scoring. With Matt Kemp out, the lack of production from Adrian Gonzalez was becoming even more painful. Aside from a couple of clutch moments, he had done virtually nothing for the Dodgers. That changed and the Dodgers had better hope it continues. Gonzalez hit a high fly ball into the gap in right-center field for a leadoff triple (the 12th triple of his career) and scored the winning run in the ninth inning.
Lefty. Chris Capuano had a hit. He got hit by a line drive and made a nice play to throw out a runner. He retired 12 straight batters at one point and pitched seven strong innings. These days, Dodgers pitchers have to do a lot of things and they're still often aren't rewarded with a win. Capuano made his best start in nearly a month. It seems like every night a Dodgers pitcher keeps the team in the game and the winning rally never comes. This time, it did but Capuano had already been pulled.
Ronald relief. Watching Ronald Belisario pitch in a close game isn't exactly relaxing. He tends to build trouble for himself, but he also has the ability to get out of just about anything he creates. The guy is just flat-out hard to hit. Coming into Saturday, hitters were batting .182 against him. Right-handers were batting .145. Belisario got the crowd stirred up by allowing a couple of guys to reach base in the eighth inning, but he blew a 94-mph fastball by Hunter Pence to get out of it.
Running around. You would think Juan Rivera, a bench player who entered Saturday hitting .241, would exert more effort when he gets to play. Rivera was jogging slowly following the flight of his fly ball down the right-field line. When Hunter Pence slid and couldn't catch it, Rivera started running. He probably wouldn't have made it to third anyway, but it's a bad look. And Hanley Ramirez might have taken a run off the board by trying to steal third with a left-handed batter up in the ninth. It made for an easy throw for Buster Posey and Ramirez was out easily. A minute later, Posey threw out Andre Ethier trying to steal second.
Cain is able. Gonzalez and Ethier have faced Cain more than any other batters in the major leagues. Gonzalez was hitting .321 with four home runs off him. Ethier was batting .472 in 53 at-bats. That kind of raised the expectation level for the middle of the order, but against Cain, the two lefty hitters combined to go 0-for-5 with a strikeout and a double play. Positive story lines are coming crashing to a halt all over this team right now.
Stress. The Dodgers never make things easy on themselves. They haven't played a game decided by more than three runs since Aug. 28. They haven't won a game by more than one run since Aug. 29. Saturday was the usual nine innings of agony for manager Don Mattingly and this team's fans, but at least this time it ended well.