The San Francisco Giants entered Thursday’s series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers in desperate need of a win.
Enter Matt Moore, the 25-year-old left-handed starter, who was equally pressed for his first victory with his new team after being dealt from the Tampa Bay Rays at the deadline for fan favorite Matt Duffy.
Moore dazzled on Thursday, shutting down the rival Dodgers for 8.2 innings before surrendering a bloop single to Corey Seager. Manger Bruce Bochy promptly walked out of the visitors’ dugout to pull his starter, who had thrown 133 pitches in pursuit of the franchise’s fifth no hitter in as many years.
One pitch later, Santiago Casilla induced a pop up off the bat of Justin Turner to end the game, which the Giants won 4-0.
“It was a beautiful game,” Bochy told reporters after the game. “He pitched a huge game, obviously, the last thing you want to do is get swept here.”
Moore finished his best outing as a Giant with seven strikeouts while walking three. He showed what made him a prized acquisition at the end of July: Command of four pitches, 94-mph-plus heat from a lefty and the confidence to induce 17 swings-and-misses.
“He had a great delivery,” Bochy said. “He really pounded the strike zone with all his pitches, had everything working tonight and really saved us. … This game was as big as any we’ve had all year. We had to win.”
Denard Span continued his stellar second-half play, making a few plays in center field, including a sliding catch in the ninth that made a potential no-hitter feel more likely. He also went 1-for-5 at the plate with an RBI.
The big play on offense came off the bat of Joe Panik, who hit his first home run since June 18 — a 385-feet, two-run shot over the wall in right field — in the fourth inning. Brandon Belt also contributed a one-run single to plate Brandon Crawford in the frame.
The win drops the Dodgers’ lead in the National League West to two games with a little more than a month to play. The Giants return home for a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, the worst team in baseball. Jeff Samardzija will take the mound today against Joel De La Cruz.
“A shutout like this can spark something where we get some momentum coming into home, get the ball rolling and get on a good streak.” Moore told reporters. “… Hopefully we just pick up where we were today.”