Through four batters, Drew Pomeranz looked like a former Giant.
Through five innings, he looked like a brand-new Giant.
Fighting for his rotation spot and pitching on extra rest after a pair of disastrous outings, the left-hander more catapulted back than bounced back, striking out seven in five scoreless innings, helping the Giants edge the Dodgers, 2-1, at Oracle Park on Friday.
After allowing 13 runs in four innings his past two starts, Pomeranz outdueled Clayton Kershaw, putting together his best start of the season and surrendering just three hits against the powerful Dodgers offense.
Pomeranz lowered his ERA by nearly a run, from 8.08 to 7.16, but his outing began as if he were about to balloon that number.
The 30-year-old threw 30 first-inning pitches and gave up two singles and a walk to his first four batters. But with the bases loaded, Pomeranz struck out David Freeze on a slow knuckle-curve and Corey Seager on a fastball.
He gave up a mere single the rest of the way, the Dodgers bats staying silent until an eighth-inning homer by Chris Taylor off Tony Watson. Max Muncy followed with a single, but Watson settled down and got Justin Turner to line out and Cody Bellinger to fly out. Will Smith recorded the final three outs to notch his 14th save of the season, as the Giants moved to 26-36.
Bruce Bochy pulled Pomeranz after five innings and 92 pitches in a scoreless game, but the Giants’ offense soon broke through.
The Giants first began to crack Kershaw in the fifth inning, when they got two runners on before Joe Panik flew out to halt the momentum.
An inning later, the Giants more than threatened. After a Brandon Belt leadoff walk and an Evan Longoria lined single to right, Kevin Pillar hit a shot to left to drive in Belt for the game’s first run. Kershaw, a bit rattled, then airmailed a pitch to move both runners over. Brandon Crawford bounced one to Muncy, who came home too late as Longoria slid in safely.
In all, Kershaw, who entered with a 1.70 lifetime ERA against the Giants, threw seven innings of two-run ball. But he was not the game’s best pitcher.
After Shaun Anderson’s solid start Thursday, the beleaguered Giants rotation has put up back-to-back respectable efforts.