SAN FRANCISCO -- Ross Stripling was pulled with a no-hitter in progress during the eighth inning of his major league debut, and new Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was willing to take all the criticism for yanking him.
"No-brainer," Roberts insisted.
Roberts said he made the move to protect Stripling's long-term health, two years after the rookie had Tommy John surgery.
"I thought it was the right choice," Stripling said. "I was tired. I think I had walked a couple late in those innings, and it was the right call. Whether it was the high pitch count or what, you could tell that I was trending downward. I think it was a tough decision for him, and I certainly had no ill feelings toward the decision one bit."
Stripling told Roberts just that when they met in his office with the game still going after the skipper was ejected.
In a decision sure to be debated around baseball, Roberts removed Stripling after the right-hander walked Angel Pagan. Stripling was on a pitch count, even if he didn't know about it. Roberts even wondered about sending him out for the eighth.
"We made that decision before the game. The most he threw in spring was 78 pitches. He's coming off Tommy John. He threw 70 innings last year," Roberts said. "At 100 pitches, that was our number. ... I want to keep his future and health in mind. I made that decision if somebody gets on base, we're going to go to [Chris Hatcher].
"That's kind of how it played out, and I think it's a great story. He pitched well, but under no circumstance am I going to even consider putting his future in jeopardy."
The 26-year-old Stripling had never pitched above Double-A and missed the 2014 season while recovering from surgery. He was trying to become the first pitcher since Bumpus Jones in 1892 to throw a no-hitter in his big league debut.
Stripling struck out four and walked four. Hatcher relieved, and Trevor Brown greeted him with a tying, two-run homer.
"I feel terrible for Hatcher the way it went," Stripling said. "In a rivalry game, anything can happen, and it's just another crazy game to throw down in the books. For me, it was more beating myself up for walking the guy than anything that Hatcher did."
Moments after Brown's homer, Roberts was tossed following a quick confrontation between Hatcher and plate umpire Jeff Kellogg after a close pitch.
The homers by Crawford and Brown were the Giants' only hits. Crawford hit a leadoff shot against Joe Blanton (0-1).
Talk about a tough no-decision for Stripling to take. Roberts said before the game that he met the pitcher's parents earlier in the day at the team hotel, and the pitcher left 21 tickets for friends and family.
"I'm excited for Ross and the way he threw the baseball tonight. He attacked hitters, executed the game plan," Roberts said. "A.J. [Ellis] worked well with him. We executed some plays, and I feel he has something really good to build on."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy would have done the exact same thing in Roberts' position.
"It's the kid's first start, and they have to take care of him," Bochy said. "Sure, you'd like to give a kid a chance to get a no-hitter, but his first start, I'm sure his pitch count hadn't been up there. You have to look after his health, and that's what they were doing."
Stripling, a 2012 fifth-round draft pick, capitalized on a trio of defensive gems.
Yasiel Puig made a diving catch in right to rob Matt Duffy in the second, and Stripling ran down Crawford's bunt toward third and fired a one-hopper to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for a slick play. Center fielder Joc Pederson sprinted hard to his left to make a diving, backhanded catch on Denard Span's fly to start the fourth.
"It helps when your team is making diving plays for the first four innings," Stripling said.
Stripling went 3-6 with a 3.66 ERA for Double-A Tulsa and Class A Great Lakes last year. He threw a no-hitter for Texas A&M against San Diego State in May 2012.
A day after the Giants rallied for a 12-6 win on 17 hits, Stripling silenced San Francisco's bats with relative ease.
Santiago Casilla (1-0) retired one batter in the 10th for the win.
On Saturday, it will be Clayton Kershaw-Madison Bumgarner in their first edition of 2016. The ace lefties are each 1-0 and matched up four times in 2015. This will be the eighth overall meeting between them.
"He's the best pitcher in baseball," Bumgarner said. "Pretty good guy, except his looks -- they're bad. You can write that down."
Dodgers: OF Carl Crawford, limited by a stiff lower back, was out of the lineup and not scheduled to start Saturday against Bumgarner. Roberts said Crawford's status would need to be re-evaluated by Monday's off day to keep the Dodgers from playing a prolonged period with a short bench. ... 2B Howie Kendrick (calf) was to play third base for Class A Rancho Cucamonga before two games at second. C Yasmani Grandal (sore right forearm) was playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City in Nashville, Tennessee. Both are scheduled to be activated for Tuesday's home opener.
Giants: Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, 78, was in attendance after his health struggles in recent years. "Glad to be here," he said from his regular booth. "I had a couple close calls, but I'm doing better."
Dodgers: Kershaw is 2-4 with a 2.12 ERA in the head-to-head outings with Bumgarner. "I think we're friends. It doesn't mean I don't want to beat him," Kershaw said.
Giants: Bumgarner owns a 4-2 record with a 2.58 ERA in such matchups, with the Giants going 3-1 in 2015 when facing Kershaw on days Bumgarner pitched.
ESPN staff writer Doug Padilla and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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