Cueto retires first 13, pitches Giants past Dodgers, 4-3
LOS ANGELES (AP) Johnny Cueto was one of the biggest free-agent signings in baseball during the offseason, and it hasn't taken long for the San Francisco Giants to reap the benefits.
Cueto pitched 7 1/3 sharp innings, and the Giants got run-scoring hits from Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt in a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.
Cueto (3-0) helped manager Bruce Bochy celebrate his 61st birthday, allowing a run and three hits with seven strikeouts.
''Johnny was outstanding,'' Bochy said. ''He had good command, good stuff, he really located everything. He had good velocity - he had it all working. When great pitchers have to turn it up a notch, they have the ability. And he did tonight.''
Javier Lopez gave up Corey Seager's two-run homer in the eighth on a full count, but Santiago Casilla got the last three outs for his third save in four chances after giving up a leadoff double by Yasmani Grandal.
Cueto, who signed a six-year, $130 million contract in December after leaving the World Series champion Kansas City Royals, retired his first 13 batters before Grandal doubled to the wall in right-center on a full count.
''Other than the fact that he was trying to get guys off rhythm, we've got a lot of guys who have leg kicks when they're batting. So he was just trying to quick-pitch and mix in his velocity through there,'' Grandal said. ''I don't have a leg kick, so I can time him a little better. But it's really tough to hit against that because he's a strike machine.''
Cueto also received some defensive help. Shortstop Crawford made a running over-the-shoulder catch of Trayce Thompson's popup in short left-center field in the third, and center fielder Denard Span robbed Justin Turner of a bloop single with a sliding grab to end the fourth.
Turner led off the seventh with a double and scored on a two-out, opposite-field single by Kike Hernandez, who had two homers and four RBIs against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in the Dodgers' series-opening 7-3 win.
Scott Kazmir (1-1) was charged with four runs, seven hits and four walks over five-plus innings. The left-hander, matching against Cueto for the second time in seven days, failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the fifth as the Giants scored their final two runs.
''We know what he's got, so we went in there and competed and battled and let the game dictate,'' Hunter Pence said. ''Seeing him last week gives you an idea of what he's got, but in this game, every day is different, and he had some pretty good stuff tonight.''
Giants: Lopez allowed only one home run in 39 1/3 innings last season. Seager's homer to center field was the first the left-hander has given up in 35 1/3 career innings against the Dodgers. ... The Giants haven't hit a home run in their last 11 games at Dodger Stadium since Sept. 23, 2014, when Bumgarner hit a two-run shot off Zack Greinke. ... Cueto's next victory will be the ninth-year veteran's 100th in the regular season. He has made 229 starts - 45 fewer than Kazmir, who also has 99 wins. ... This was Span's 10th game in the leadoff spot, and the first time he got a hit in his first at-bat.
Dodgers: Kazmir's only other career start at Dodger Stadium was June 12, 2010, when he allowed two runs over five innings for the Angels in a 4-2 victory.
Dodgers: LF Carl Crawford, out with lower back tightness, is progressing well and will travel with the team to Atlanta on Monday, when he'll meet up with the Triple-A Oklahoma City club in Nashville to begin a rehab assignment. ... LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, rehabbing from shoulder surgery, had Saturday's scheduled bullpen session postponed because of a groin strain. ''We've got to back off him,'' manager Dave Roberts said. ''He's still doing things to keep his arm in shape, but we're going to take a couple of days to let this calm down before we get him back on the mound. We need him back, but we need him back healthy.''
Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-0) gets the assignment in the finale of the three-game series, his first start at Dodger Stadium since Aug. 3, 2013, when he lost a 3-0 decision to Chris Capuano.
Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (1-0) pitched six scoreless innings in each of his first two starts. His scoreless streak is 6 1/3 innings shy of Dave Stewart's for the longest by a Dodger to start a career since the franchise relocated from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. Stewart did it as a reliever, over a span of 11 appearances.