LOS ANGELES -- Presented with a chance to regain some of their long-lost momentum, the Giants reacted as they have done with virtually every opportunity in recent weeks. They couldn't capitalize.
San Francisco took the field Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium knowing that the Mets and Cardinals, their rivals in the National League Wild Card competition, already had lost. A victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers would put the Giants back on top of the NL Wild Card standings. But instead of delivering an aggressive response, San Francisco offered only an ineffectual retreat in the form of a 9-3 loss.
The Giants therefore remained tied with the Mets and Cardinals atop the NL Wild Card perch, each with 80-72 records.
"Well, yeah, they could have gained, too. It works both ways," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who maintained an upbeat perspective. "You have to savor being in this position. There are too many times I haven't been in this position. We're in it. It's going to be a fight here these last 10 games and we have to come out every day trying to win every game."
The Dodgers, meanwhile, reduced the magic number to win the NL West to five, leading the Giants by six games.
"It's nice to have that separation, but this is a crazy game and nothing is certain until the number is zero," said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. "You're not going to see us relaxing and taking things for granted, we've got to keep winning, get hot, build momentum going into the playoffs. The last thing you want to do is get flat and play bad baseball over the last week and limp into the playoffs."
Los Angeles raked Giants starter Matt Moore for five first-inning runs, including Yasiel Puig's three-run homer. Moore lasted two batters into the second inning and matched a career worst by officially working one inning. He allowed more hits (seven) than he did in his previous two Dodger Stadium appearances this year (five). The left-hander fell to 4-5 since joining the Giants in an Aug. 1 trade.
"It's a bad day to have a bad day," Moore said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Momentum changer: Two batters into the game, the Giants had a run in and a runner at second on a walk, a single and a passed ball and error by catcher Carlos Ruiz. But Kenta Maeda put out the fire by getting Buster Posey on a groundout and striking out Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt.
"Kenta and Chooch [Ruiz, catching Maeda for the first time], initially it was trying to get to know each other," said manager Dave Roberts. "They got through that first inning. Initially, Kenta was too fine around the edges, but once he got in his groove, he was doing his thing."
Span can: Giants center fielder Denard Span didn't play in the series' first two games, but he helped the Giants attempt to generate the offense they needed in the finale, singling twice and drawing a walk. This halted a slide for Span, whose batting average had slipped from .276 on Sept. 1 to .261 before this game.
Reliever tryouts: Left-handed starters Julio Urias and Alex Wood pitched in relief for the Dodgers, which is what they would do if they make the postseason roster. Urias, a likely postseason choice, allowed one run in two innings. Wood, an outsider making his first appearance since May 29, returned from elbow surgery with a 1-2-3 inning.
"Nice to get the first one out of the way," said Wood. "I felt great, and hopefully they'll keep giving me opportunities to show what I can do. When the doctor said I could come back sometime in September, that's all I wanted to hear."
More of a look at Moore: Some Giants, especially Moore, thought that Los Angeles' big first inning could have been avoided had they been able to turn a double play on Corey Seager's ground ball following Howie Kendrick's leadoff single. Another mini-turning point in the Giants' minds was a subsequent walk to Turner, who was ruled to have checked his swing on a 2-2 pitch. A Turner strikeout would have been another difference-maker. But Moore thought he should have escaped the inning anyway.
"It seemed like there was a lot of small stuff going around," Moore said.
Criticizing himself, Moore said that he shouldn't have walked Turner despite the unfavorable call on the checked swing: "I have to be better in that moment." More >
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: San Francisco opens a four-game series at San Diego, beginning with a 7:10 p.m. encounter at Petco Park on Thursday. Jeff Samardzija, who may have as many as three starts remaining, gets the call in the series opener. Samardzija needs one victory to reach 12 for the season and establish a personal single-season best.
Dodgers: It's Brett Anderson in Comeback II, with a 7:10 p.m. PT first pitch against Colorado on Thursday. After recovering from spring back surgery, Anderson made only two starts and allowed 11 runs in four innings before going back on the disabled list with a finger blister. He still has an outside chance of sneaking into the postseason rotation.