San Francisco Giants drop opener in Los Angeles despite late homer from Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval, seen here on September 20, 2017, hit a two-run homer against the Dodgers on Friday. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

After salvaging just one of four games against the tanking Miami Marlins this week, the San Francisco Giants arrived in Los Angeles hoping to get first baseman Brandon Belt back from an emergency appendectomy, and to get right against a team they’d beaten six out of the last 10 times.

Belt’s return has been delayed, and without his offense, the Giants dropped the opener to the Dodgers, 3-2, despite some late heroics from Belt’s stand-in, Pablo Sandoval.

Unlike last Sunday, when Derek Holland and the bullpen combined to hold off the Washington Nationals and Max Scherzer, Holland was decent but not quite sharp enough to handle the challenge that came at Dodger Stadium with starter Ross Stripling.

Kiké Hernandez went deep in the first inning, Matt Kemp added a solo shot of his own and an unearned run that scored later in the inning turned out to be huge as the Giants would get two back in the seventh on Sandoval’s fifth home run of the year.

With Los Angeles (36-32) already leading 2-0, Yasmani Grandal’s fly ball to deep center field was dropped by Austin Jackson for a three-base error, and Grandal would come in to score on fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig’s double.

It was a rough night all around for Jackson, who went 0-for-3. Sandoval had two of the four Giants hits, including the two-run shot in the seventh to bring San Francisco (34-36) within a run.

The homer chased Stripling from the game after 6 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits, struck out six and didn’t issue a walk en route to his sixth consecutive win. Josh Fields came in to get the final two outs of the seventh and the first two outs of the eighth, and lefty specialist Scott Alexander got Joe Panik to ground out. Kenley Jansen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 16th save of the year.

Holland was serviceable once again, lasting just five innings but striking out seven. He allowed five hits — including the two solo homers — and a pair of walks. He avoided serious damage in the third despite a Logan Forsythe double and prevented the Dodgers from breaking the game open in the fourth after Puig’s RBI double. With runners on second and third after Nick Hundley’s sixth passed ball of the season, Holland got Max Muncy to pop out to finish his night.

Pierce Johnson, recalled earlier in the day when Evan Longoria was placed on the disabled list, pitched two scoreless innings to relieve a tired Giants bullpen, and Will Smith pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts. Alen Hanson, who is expected to see significantly more time with Longoria on the DL, went 0-for-4 and was serenaded by Dodger organist Dieter Ruehle with Hanson’s “MMMBop” each time he came up to bat.

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