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Sandoval clutch for Giants

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POSTED April 17, 2014 12:48 a.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pablo Sandoval singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, lifting the San Francisco Giants to a 2-1 victory over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night and into first place in the NL West.

The struggling Sandoval came through after reliever J.P. Howell (1-1) intentionally walked Hunter Pence with two outs. Sandoval, who entered the game batting just .164, grounded into center field to score Joaquin Arias from second.

Jean Machi (3-0) pitched out of a bases-loaded jam earlier in the seventh for the win.

Buster Posey broke an 0-for-13 skid with an RBI single in the third to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. Dee Gordon’s tying triple in the sixth accounted for the Dodgers’ lone run.

Los Angeles at least dodged worse news.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez left in the seventh after getting hit by a pitch from Ryan Vogelsong on the top of his left hand. The team said X-rays on Ramirez’s hand were negative.

Sergio Romo pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save, striking out Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp to end the game.

Vogelsong allowed the one run and four hits in six-plus innings to help the Giants win their third straight game. He struck out two and walked two to match Paul Maholm most of the way.

Maholm gave up one run and five hits in six innings. He struck out two and walked three to rebound from a loss in his only other start this season on April 5, when he allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings to the Giants.

San Francisco improved to 4-1 against the Dodgers this season in a race that could remain tight through the summer. Both teams began the day with a 9-5 record.

The starting pitchers kept the game moving at a far brisker pace than the nearly 5-hour contest Tuesday night that ended when Hector Sanchez singled home the winning run with two outs in the 12th inning to give the Giants the win.

The biggest blemish came when Vogelsong hit the top of Ramirez’s left hand to open the seventh. Ramirez slammed his helmet to the ground and hopped around in pain before being replaced by Justin Turner.

After the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out, Machi fielded a hard comebacker from Juan Uribe to start a home-to-first double play.

The biggest hold up came from baseball’s new replay system after Vogelsong pick of Kemp at first base in the second inning. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenge the play, which umpires upheld after a 4:25 video review that drew light boos from some fans during the wait.

NOTES: Dodgers ace and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who is on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his back, threw breaking balls off flat ground. He is scheduled to throw off a mound Thursday. ... An MRI on Dodgers RHP Chad Billingsley showed no ligament damage in his elbow, Mattingly said.

Billingsley has some tendinitis that will delay his recovery. ... Giants SS Brandon Crawford sat out with tightness in his right hamstring but said he expects to play Thursday. ... The Giants activated lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt (sprained right knee) from the 15-day disabled list and optioned OF Juan Perez to Triple-A Fresno. ... Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig entered in the seventh and grounded out in the eighth. ... Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (2-0, 3.31 ERA) takes the mound opposite Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1, 2.57 ERA) in Thursday’s series finale.

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