Hill has no blister issues in solid return

Dodgers veteran allows only solo homer over five innings

Hill has no blister issues in solid return

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Dodgers lost to the Giants again, lost a one-run game again and slipped back into third place again.

But finally, Rich Hill didn't have a blister issue again, so even after Tuesday night's 2-1 loss, at least there's that.

Returning from nearly a month on the sidelines and his second disabled-list stint because of chronic blisters, Hill's finger held up for 82 pitches over five innings. He was effective enough to leave the game tied at 1, hanging a curveball to Brandon Belt, who was credited with a fourth-inning home run that withstood a crew-chief challenge because it was touched by a fan.

With Belt leading off the bottom of the sixth inning, manager Dave Roberts went to the bullpen and the Giants manufactured a run off reliever Luis Avilan on Belt's infield single, a wild pitch that skipped between the legs of catcher Austin Barnes, an unselfish Buster Posey groundout that moved Belt to third and a soft (72.9 mph according to Statcast™) RBI single by Brandon Crawford.

"The finger held up fine, no issues with that," said Hill, who has battled blisters for nearly a year. "We were checking it between innings to make sure nothing was going on, so that was good."

Dodgers end inning with DP

Hill's first inning, though, was ominous. He hit leadoff hitter Denard Span on the helmet with a curveball and balked him to second base.

"You don't panic, you stay the course," he said. "Trusting your abilities and the fact to be able to stay in your mechanics. That was one pitch that slipped out of my hand."

One out later, Span tagged to third on Belt's flyout, but Hill escaped and pitched around five singles over his final five innings, stung only by Belt's blast leading off the fourth.

"The ball came out of my hand well," he said. "Not 100 percent, but obviously one mistake to Brandon, a curveball that just kind of hung."

Hill said he wanted to pitch the sixth inning, but understood Roberts' concern about a blister flare-up. Roberts said he didn't want to push his luck with Hill's finger and didn't want Hill facing Belt for a third time either, preferring the matchup with Avilan.

"Those lefties [Belt and Crawford] had matched up well against Rich and I thought that was good enough," said Roberts. "To get off on the right foot when he's back in the swing of things, I think it's something for him to build on for his confidence."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.