Good things come to those who wait.
Rich Hill made his long awaited Dodger debut on Wednesday night and did not disappoint as the left-hander threw six scoreless innings, outdueling Johnny Cueto, and Los Angeles extended their lead in the NL West to three games with a 1-0 victory against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers had to wait over three weeks on Hill to make his debut as he was immediately placed on the disabled list with a blister on his left hand after he was acquired at the trade deadline.
"It was great to get back out there. I've emphasized to stay within the moment and execute one pitch at a time," Hill said of his return. "It sounds cliche, but if you can do that it's extremely beneficial."
Hill (10-3) delivered in his first taste of one of baseball's best rivalries as he threw six shutout innings with no walks and three strikeouts as he stood in the spotlight of a pressure-packed pennant race.
"You can feel the passion that's out there," Hill said of pitching in the rivalry in the heat of a division race. "Fans come to see effort and for me, that's what I like to bring out there to the environment. It was extremely exciting. The intensity overall was a lot of fun."
Cueto (14-4) had a no-hitter through 3 and 1/3 before Justin Turner broke it up like a branch in autumn with a solo shot to left field, providing the only run of the game.
"My first at-bat he pounded me in with fastballs, so on that at-bat he threw slider-slider and then threw a third one in a row that he left up," Turner said of his home run. "I just barely got enough of it to get out, but I'm happy it did."
The blast was Turner's team-high 24th of the season, the most of his career and ties him with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout for 31st in the Major Leagues.
Turner's run would turn out to be all the Dodgers needed as Hill and four relievers combined to shutout San Francisco the remainder of the way.
"I was hoping we would score a lot more," Turner joked after the game. "Tip your cap to Rich [Hill] and the bullpen. They came in and did an unbelievable job."
Pedro Baez, Adam Liberatore, Joe Blanton and Kenley Jansen combined to hold the Giants to just one hit over three scoreless innings of relief. For Jansen, he picked up his second straight save, his 37th save of the season, and first one-run save since June.
Cueto was the hard-luck loser, allowing just the one run on four hits with six strikeouts in six strong innings of work. The loss was Cueto's first in the month of August.
"It's part of the game. There's nothing you can do when you lose one to nothing," Cueto said after the game through a translator. "You just have to keep on grinding and keep your head up."
However, the night was all about the return of Hill who gave the 44,000 fans in attendance their first taste of the soft-throwing southpaw.
"This was the first time I had a chance to see him pitch in person and up close," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "As much energy there was in the ballpark tonight, Rich rasied that level of intensity even more."
Fresh as the first beam of a sun, Hill earned his first victory in a Dodger uniform in his first game on the mound since he threw a few pitches on July 17th. The last full start Hill made was on July 7th when he allowed one run on three hits in six innings against the Houston Astros.
Hill was acquired alongside his teammate Josh Reddick at the MLB trade deadline for three pitching prospects and is undefeated in his last nine starts overall, posting a record of 7-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
"I wasn't that surprised. I've seen it all year," Reddick said of Hill's outing. "That goes to show the kind of competitor he is after not pitching for so long to go out there and shutout a lineup like those guys."
Adrian Gonzalez had a single in the fourth inning to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 17 games.
Corey Seager saw his 14-game hitting streak snapped, and San Francisco outfielder Angel Pagan went 0-for-3 and saw his season-high 19-game hitting streak get snapped.
The Dodgers recorded their MLB-leading 12th shutout of the season and their first 1-0 victory over the Giants since July 20, 2011 at AT&T Park.
Los Angeles and San Francisco are now tied at six wins apiece through the teams first 12 head-to-head matchups. They will meet seven more times over the next month in a sprint to the finish in the National League West.
"Now is the time to put your foot on the pedal and keep going," Turner said of the Dodgers three-game lead in the division. "You don't ever want to relax with those guys. We have to keep working hard every day."
Players of the Game:
Justin Turner: Game Winning Home Run
Rich Hill: Six shutout innings
Kenley Jansen: 37th Save.
1. E is for 'Eephus': Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill tried to throw a 52 MPH eephus pitch past Angel Pagan in the top of the fifth inning. The pitch was a ball, but it surprised Pagan.
2. The Bold and the Beautiful: Dodgers super utility player Kiké Hernandez celebrated his 25th birthday today and made a guest appearance on the CBS Soap Opera "The Bold and the Beautiful." Hernandez played himself and the episode is expected to air on Sept. 12 when the Dodgers play the Marlins in Miami.
3. Third Base: Justin Turner needs just four more home runs to join an elite list of Dodger third baseman with 30 or more home runs in a single season.
23 of Justin Turner's 24 HR were hit as 3B.
Dodgers with 30 HR as 3B:
Cey (1977) 30
Guerrero (1983) 32
Zeile (1997) 31
Beltre (2004) 48 — Eric Stephen (@truebluela) August 25, 2016
Giants (68-58): Matt Moore takes the mound for the first time against the Dodgers wearing a Giants uniform for San Francisco on Thursday.
Dodgers (71-55): Rookie Ross Stripling will make another spot start as LA goes for the sweep on Thursday in the finale of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry at 7:10 PM PST.
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