SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Cody Bellinger was the Los Angeles Dodgers’ best young player in 2017, a slugger who won Rookie of the Year honors, set a franchise record for newbies with 39 homers and drove in 97 runs.
On Sunday, Bellinger became the poster boy for what is wrong with the slumping NL champions.
Manager Dave Roberts benched him for what he called a lack of hustle after Bellinger pulled up while legging out a double in the fifth inning of the Dodgers’ 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
According to Roberts, Bellinger should have tried to go for third base on a ball that landed on the warning track in an area of AT&T Park known as Triples Alley.
“For me, he’s too talented of a player to do that,” Roberts said. “For Cody not to take third base, I would do no service to the team or him by not acting upon it. We’ve had discussions about it. If guys aren’t doing that, it’s on me.”
Bellinger, the only Dodgers player to have more than one hit in the game, disputed Roberts assessment but wasn’t upset.
“I’m always hustling,” Bellinger said. “It just didn’t make sense to me, but I get it as well. He’s trying to prove a point. I don’t think anyone can tell me how to play. I’ve always played hard.”
Bellinger didn’t stay on second base long. He was doubled off on a line drive caught by diving shortstop Brandon Crawford, and later pulled.
Los Angeles has lost five of six.
Before the game, Los Angeles right fielder Yasiel Puig was put on the disabled list with a left hip pointer and bruised foot. He was hurt a day earlier when he ran into a padded wall tracking down a foul ball — he also fouled a ball off his foot.
“We just have to play better,” Roberts said.
Evan Longoria hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Ty Blach made the early lead stand up for the Giants.
Buster Posey doubled and scored twice and Brandon Belt added an RBI double as the Giants took three of four in the series. San Francisco is 6-4 against the Dodgers this season.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start and it’s now starting to come together,” said Longoria after homering for the second time in four days. “From top to bottom, we’re feeling much more confident as a group.”
The Giants stumbled through the first three weeks of the season, but have won five of seven on their current homestand to even their mark at 14-14.
“When you consider some things that have happened it’s OK,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Considering where we were, too, to battle back to get to .500, that’s always a great sign.”
Blach (2-3) pitched into the seventh inning and allowed two runs. He’s beaten the Dodgers twice this season and has a 1.63 ERA in seven career starts against them.
Sam Dyson and Tony Watson retired three batters each. Hunter Strickland pitched the ninth for his seventh save.
Longoria just missed an extra-base hit down the left field line before driving an off-speed pitch from Kenta Maeda (2-2) into the stands in left-center for his sixth home run.
Posey, who doubled and scored on Longoria’s home run, drew a two-out walk in the third and scored on Belt’s double. Over his last 14 games, Belt is hitting .375 (18 for 48) with 11 RBIs.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill has an infected finger which will delay his return from the disabled list. The team had been hopeful he would be able to start Monday.
Giants: 2B Joe Panik traveled to Los Angeles to get a second opinion on his sprained left thumb.
Dodgers: The team has not said who will start Monday’s game in Arizona. RHPs Brock Stewart, called up to take Puig’s roster spot, and Ross Stripling are the two likely candidates.
Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-1, 6.23) faces the Padres on Monday night at AT&T Park in the opener of a three-game series. He has struggled since coming off the disabled list and was roughed up for six runs in 3 2/3 innings of his most recent start.