To say that Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been struggling in the second half of the Major League Baseball season might be an understatement.
Heading into Tuesday's game with the visiting San Francisco Giants, the Palo Alto High grad was just 6-for-63 (.095) in his past 25 games dating to July 26. Things had gotten so bad at the plate that Pederson was demoted from the leadoff spot in the lineup, then lost his starting job in center field to Kiké Hernandez.
All those struggles went away for the moment when Pederson unloaded a month of frustrations with one swing, launching a solo homer into the center field seats in the seventh inning to carry the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory.
Equally important, the home run came off Giants ace and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.
Pederson nearly sprinted around the bases as he celebrated his 24th homer of the season, high-fiving teammates before hugging hitting coach Mark McGwire in the dugout.
From Steve Bourbon of MLB.com:
"He's been there through the good and the bad," Pederson said of McGwire, "being there supporting me and keeping it positive. He always reminds me how hard this game is. It's a tough game and it's learning, learning and lots of learning."
It was just the second home run Bumgarner has allowed to a left-hander all season.
"He's really good. I don't think there's too many comfortable at-bats against him," Pederson told Bourbon. "I just try to see the ball. It's kind of coming from behind your head. I just put a good swing on the ball. He didn't make too many mistakes."
The victory extended the Dodgers' lead in the NL West to 5 1/2 games. The Dodgers have won seven of their past eight, while the Giants have a four-game losing streak.
Bouncing back from a second-set loss, former Stanford All-American Nicole Gibbs rallied for a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Lourdes Domínguez Lino of Spain in a women's singles first-round match at the US Open on Tuesday at Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
Gibbs, ranked No. 117th in the world, battled back from a 4-1 deficit in the third set to pull out the victory.
After receiving a wild-card berth on Monday, Gibbs next will face No. 5 seed Petra Kvitova, who needed just 59 minutes to oust Laura Siegemund of Germany. Kvitova is 1-0 lifetime against Gibbs, with a victory back in 2012 at the Connecticut Open. Gibbs has never reached the quarterfinals of the US Open.
In men's doubles, former Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan will begin their title defense on Wednesday against Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey of the U.S. The Bryan brothers are the top seeds.