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.
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 an RBI single to right-center field off San Francisco closer Camilo Doval to score automatic runner Amed Rosario with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th.
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 that caromed off pitcher Shelby Miller to Taylor, who made a leaping grab behind second base, stepped on the bag and fired to first to complete an inning-ending double play.
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.”
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.
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.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.