Evan Longoria’s homer the difference in Giants’ win over Dodgers in pivotal Game 3 of the NLDS

LOS ANGELES — The San Francisco Giants dipped into their bag of tricks all season long, defying the experts by winning the National League West.

That glass slipper was supposed to shatter in the postseason, crumbling in front of the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers.

But in a stadium so quiet you could hear a World Series reign coming to an end, the Giants’ magic carpet ride flew through the windy skies, defeating the Dodgers, 1-0, in front of 52,299 subdued fans, and taking a 2-to-1-game lead in the best-of-five NL Division Series.

The Giants managed only three hits, none since the fifth inning, watched Max Scherzer utterly dominate them, and still got the last laugh.

Evan Longoria hits a solo home run off Max Scherzer in the fifth inning to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.

Evan Longoria hits a solo home run off Max Scherzer in the fifth inning to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.

The Giants are just one victory away from returning to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2014 when they last won the World Series.

Who would have thought that after winning a franchise-record 107 games during the regular season, the Giants would revert to old-school, and bring their Candlestick Park weather down to Chavez Ravine.

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There were 15 to 20-mph wind gusts throughout the game, hot-dog wrappers blowing in the outfield, long fly balls headed towards the seats knocked down to the ground.

Fittingly, the game ended when Gavin Lux hit a two-out drive in the ninth inning that looked like it might tie the game, only for it to die on the warning track for the final out.

The only one who managed to defy the wind was 36-year-old Evan Longoria, who drove Scherzer’s 96-mph through the wind gusts in the fifth inning, into the left-field seats.

It was the only real mistake Scherzer made the entire night.

It was the last hit the Giants produced the rest of the game.

And the Giants lived to tell about it.

The Giants became the first team to beat Scherzer in his first 13 starts since joining the Dodgers, the longest streak since Hall of Famer Whitey Ford with the Yankees when they won his first 23 starts in 1950-53.

“We made this acquisition for him to be an ace, a stopper,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “When he takes the baseball, you expect to win and for him to prevent runs.”

Still, you don’t expect a 37-year-old to go to the mound and impersonate Don Drysdale. He became the oldest Dodgers pitcher to strike out 10 batters in a game since Sal Maglie in the 1956 World Series. He was also the first pitcher in history to strike out at least 10 batters with three different teams in the postseason, after accomplishing the feat with the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals

It was the first time Scherzer had faced the Giants in a postseason game since Game 4 of the 2012 World Series when he pitched for the Detroit Tigers, giving up three hits over 6 ⅓ innings in a loss.

Nine years later, the Giants got him again, with one swing of the bat from Longoria.

“You have to execute every pitch that you throw because if you make mistakes against this team,’’ Scherzer said, his voice trailing off. “They led the league in homers for a reason. So obviously they can take it deep if you make a mistake.’’

The Dodgers are now one game away from elimination, something the Dodgers can’t stand to even contemplate, letting down their passionate fans, who couldn’t see them play a single home game during last year’s pandemic, let alone have a World Series parade.

“Our Dodgers’ fanbase definitely wants us to beat the Giants,’’ Scherzer said. “It’s personal to them. So, it’s personal to us.’’

Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NLDS: Giants win Game 3 over Dodgers thanks to Evan Longoria homer

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