SAN FRANCISCO -- Clayton Kershaw sustained his typical excellence against the Giants with seven dominant innings Wednesday afternoon as the Dodgers recorded a 6-1 victory to avoid a three-game series sweep.
Kershaw, who joined Houston's Dallas Keuchel as the second seven-game winner in the Major Leagues, did not allow a single Giant past first base while yielding three hits. He improved to 20-9 with a 1.62 ERA lifetime against San Francisco, including 12-4 with a 1.29 ERA at AT&T Park, as the Giants' five-game winning streak dissolved.
"It was a good day," said Kershaw. "Good to get those runs early off [Giants starter Johnny] Cueto and try to make those hold up. A good win, and we needed it today after losing three in a row. It's never easy to win here, so it feels good."
The Dodgers established control immediately on Yasmani Grandal's two-run double in the first inning off Johnny Cueto. Yasiel Puig's bases-loaded two-run single in the sixth inning widened the Dodgers' lead to 5-0.
Both hits came with two outs on two-strike counts. "It's a fine line between winning and losing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They got the key hits. But the bats were quiet. Kershaw was his usual good self."
Cueto matched a season-high by allowing eight hits while surrendering five runs in six innings.
Giants third baseman Eduardo Nunez launched his first homer of the year, a solo shot, off Dodgers reliever and former Giant Sergio Romo in the ninth inning. Nunez's long ball extended the Giants' streak of consecutive solo home runs to 13. San Francisco has homered in 10 consecutive games, matching its longest streak since April 4-14, 2016.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Tension overflows: Both benches emptied, though no punches were thrown. But a little hostility was in the air during the third inning as Cueto threw up and in to Grandal. It turned out to be a wild pitch that allowed Chase Utley to score a run. Cueto and Grandal ultimately exchanged words, which prompted players to leave the dugouts.
"It was just, the game within the game," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "With guys on second base, Cueto thought we were relaying signs. He let us know. He didn't appreciate the thought we might be doing something like that. If we were, it's part of the game."
Said Bochy, "There was a little jawing going on. That's not uncommon in our game. Johnny's very animated, he's a competitor. … It really wasn't a big deal. It's just two teams that have had some good battles. It really wasn't much of an issue."
Settling the outcome: The Giants were one strike away from having a chance to reclaim some momentum when Puig lashed Cueto's 1-2 pitch to left field in the sixth inning. That widened Los Angeles' lead to 5-0. Cueto entered Wednesday with a five-game unbeaten streak at AT&T Park and a 3-0 record and a 2.68 ERA in that span.
"I don't think he was as sharp as he usually is," Giants catcher Buster Posey said of Cueto.
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The Dodgers are 94-5 when they score at least four runs in Kershaw starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"He just said that wasn't his intention, so, great. I'm glad that wasn't his intention. At that point in time, it looked a little different." -- Grandal, on the high-and-tight pitch Cueto threw past him
WHAT'S NEXT Dodgers: The Dodgers open a 10-game homestand Thursday night at 7:10 p.m. PT on MLB.TV, with Hyun-Jin Ryu coming off a loss at Coors Field and possibly pitching to keep his spot in the overloaded rotation while Los Angeles faces former manager Don Mattingly. Ryu hasn't pitched against the Marlins since Aug. 19, 2013.
Giants: San Francisco has a scheduled off-day Thursday before starting a two-city, seven-game trip Friday at St. Louis. Game time for that opener is 5:15 p.m. PT on MLB.TV, with Giants left-hander Matt Moore opposing Cardinals righty Michael Wacha.