Once Dodgers pitcher Lance Lynn got every ounce of his 6-foot-5, 270-pound body moving in the right direction in the third inning of Sunday’s 3-2, 10-inning walk-off victory over the San Francisco Giants, there was no stopping the burly right-hander.
The Giants, trailing 2-0 at the time, had loaded the bases with two outs when Thairo Estrada, a No. 5 hitter with 13 homers and 48 RBIs on the season, inexplicably tried to bunt for a hit, popping his attempt into the air toward third base.
It took a moment for the shock to wear off and for Lynn to realize third baseman Max Muncy was playing too deep to make the play. Lynn then bolted off the mound and made a nice running catch near the line to end the inning, his momentum practically carrying him into a laughter-filled third-base dugout.
“I don’t know if he’s made a play like that in quite some time,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He got off the mound pretty well.”
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was doing an in-game interview with ESPN as the play unfolded, announcer Karl Ravech marveling that “pitchers are athletes, man.”
“I don’t know about that,” Kershaw said, “but that was sick.”
Their 10th National League West title in 11 years clinched more than a week ago and their first playoff game still almost two weeks away, the Dodgers mixed in a Sunday fun day before a fan-appreciation-day crowd of 48,315 in Chavez Ravine.
Chris Taylor, who entered the game at shortstop in the ninth inning, sent those fans home happy when he lined a 100-mph fastball on the outside corner from San Francisco closer Camilo Doval to right-center field for an RBI single to score automatic runner Amed Rosario with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th.
“Yeah, he’s tough,” said Taylor, who was hitless in five career at-bats against Doval. “He’s got really good stuff, so you kind of try to play pepper and put a ball in play. Got a good fastball to hit and got the barrel to it.”
Dodgers closer Evan Phillips preserved a 2-2 tie by escaping a second-and-third, one-out jam in the top of the ninth, getting Tyler Fitzgerald to fly out to shallow left field and, after walking LaMonte Wade Jr. intentionally to load the bases, striking out Mitch Haniger with an 85-mph sweeper.
The Giants loaded the bases with one out in the top of the 10th after Dodgers center fielder Kiké Hernández lost Estrada’s routine fly ball in the twilight, the ball dropping for a single.
Pinch-hitter Patrick Bailey followed with a rocket up the middle that caromed off the glove of pitcher Shelby Miller to Taylor, who made a leaping grab behind second base, stepped on the bag and fired a one-hop throw to first baseman Freddie Freeman, who made a back-hand pick to complete an inning-ending double play.
“Just kind of a weird, freak play,” Taylor said. “I was trying to step on the bag and throw it at the same time. I gave Freddie a terrible, in-between hop, and he made an unbelievable play to save us there. So hats off to Freddie.”
Dodgers starting shortstop Miguel Rojas was mic’d up for the second inning, and as he was telling the ESPN crew about a bat he had borrowed from Hernández after the utility man’s July 25 trade from Boston, Estrada ripped a one-hopper up the middle.
“Sorry guys,” Rojas said as he fielded the ball and threw to first base for the out, “I need to make this play real quick.”
Rojas has balked at requests to wear a microphone in the past because he felt it would interfere with his preparation and play, but with the Dodgers’ playoff position secured, he jumped at the opportunity Sunday.
“I always felt anxiety about it, but given the circumstances, where we are, I think it was a perfect time for me to do it, to have some fun with it and show a little bit of my personality,” Rojas said. “I think it came out great.
“There was a lot going on, the earpiece in one ear, the Pitch Com in the other. I was telling a story about Kiké’s bat, the ball was hit to me, and it just came out naturally. I feel like it was a great experience and I’m gonna share that forever.”
Second baseman Mookie Betts followed Rojas’ multi-tasking effort with a multiple-web-gem fifth inning, ranging behind the second-base bag to make a back-hand stop of a J.D. Davis grounder and, with his momentum carrying him toward left-center field, making a strong one-hop throw to first for the out.
Joc Pederson followed with a hard grounder that appeared ticketed for right field before Betts made a spectacular diving stop to his left and, from his knees, threw across his body to first base for the final out of the inning.
Right fielder Jason Heyward added to the defensive highlight reel in the top of the eighth when he raced in and made a sliding catch of Davis’ liner for the first out.
The inning ended with Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol nonchalantly fielding Estrada’s comebacker, flipping the ball from his glove to his throwing hand and firing a fastball to first to extend his scoreless streak to 23 innings over 22 appearances.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the second when J.D. Martinez doubled to left-center field and James Outman lined a two-run home run, his 22nd of the season, to right field.
The Giants tied the score 2-2 in the fifth when Fitzgerald blooped a single to shallow center field and Wade hit a two-run homer to right-center, the major league-leading 43rd homer allowed by Lynn this season.
But that was the only blemish on a third straight solid start by Lynn, who gave up two runs and five hits in six innings, struck out six and walked three.
Lynn was rocked for 15 earned runs and 14 hits, including three homers, over 8⅔ innings in losses to Atlanta on Aug. 31 and at Miami on Sept. 6. But in three starts since, Lynn has allowed seven earned runs and 16 hits in 18 innings for a 3.50 ERA.
Five relievers — Alex Vesia, Ryan Brasier, Graterol, Phillips and Miller — combined for four scoreless innings, the Dodgers caught a break on Bailey’s double-play grounder in the top of the 10th, and Taylor’s hit capped the team’s seventh walk-off win of the season.
“There’s a lot to unpack tonight,” Roberts said. “Really good ballgame. Got the two-run homer early from James, we finished with a 100-mph fastball on the black from Doval, and C.T. walks it off. Some really good pitching from all of our guys. Just trying to scratch and crawl and find a way to hang in there.”
The Dodgers closed the home portion of their schedule with a major league-leading attendance figure of 3,837,079, marking the second straight season and fifth in club history (2007, 2018, 2019, 2022) that the team has drawn more than 3.8 million fans. … Ryan Pepiot will follow an opener and pitch bulk innings in the first game of Tuesday’s split-doubleheader in Colorado, and Bobby Miller will start the nightcap.