- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Manager Don Mattingly thought his Los Angeles Dodgers were heading toward a slump-busting win when Joc Pederson and Justin Turner connected for back-to-back homers in the first inning.

The next eight innings just reminded the Dodgers how much they are still struggling - and now they are at the brink of falling out of first place in the NL West.

Justin Maxwell and Brandon Belt hit two-run homers and the San Francisco Giants trimmed the Dodgers’ division lead to a half-game with a 6-2 victory Saturday.

Tim Hudson pitched six-hit ball into the seventh inning and had a key single for the Giants, who have won five straight over their archrivals and nine of 11 this season.

Maxwell and Belt connected against Carlos Frias (4-5), who gave up six runs and five hits. While the Giants are surging, the Dodgers have lost six of eight.

Los Angeles (38-31) has been alone in first place since May 30, but San Francisco (38-32) could reclaim the top spot with a series sweep Sunday.

“In a big sense, it’s probably going to go through those guys, and we’re going to have to find a way to get it done,” Mattingly said. “We have a half-game lead in the division, but they’ve basically gained seven games on us in the games that we’ve played against them. So obviously, that’s something that we have to be able to change.”

The Giants went up 2-0 in the first, but Pederson put a shot deep into the visiting bullpen for his 18th homer and his first since June 3, when he homered in his fifth straight game. When Turner connected for the second straight day, the hitting-poor Dodgers had their first back-to-back homers since April 19.

The good feelings didn’t last.

“After Joc and J.T. went back-to-back right there, I kind of felt like it was going to be one of those type of games,” Mattingly said. “We had a few chances after that, but we just didn’t capitalize.”

Hudson (5-6) yielded two walks and struck out three, bouncing back after a rocky first inning. He singled with two outs in the fifth, allowing Maxwell to deliver the tiebreaking homer.

“It’s nice to win any time here, but especially this year with such a tight race with these guys,” Hudson said after his second career victory at Dodger Stadium. “Fortunately we’ve been able to play some good baseball against these guys when we need it. We’d love to be in first place, and we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position to do that.”

Frias retired nine consecutive Giants until Hudson singled and Maxwell put a two-strike homer into the bleachers in left, snapping his 2-for-19 skid.

Belt then dropped a long fly barely over the wall in right in the sixth for his ninth homer. Right fielder Yasiel Puig could have had a shot to steal it, but lost it in the sun.

“We haven’t been playing good baseball at all the last two or three weeks, and we’re still in first place,” said Adrian Gonzalez, who went 0 for 4. “So I guess that’s something to keep our heads up about.”

AOKI OUT

Maxwell entered the Giants’ lineup in the first inning after Nori Aoki got hit in the lower leg by Frias’ second pitch of the game. Aoki ran the bases and scored San Francisco’s first run on Angel Pagan’s sacrifice fly, but he didn’t come out when the Giants took the field, sitting with a bruised leg. Aoki said he’ll decide Sunday morning whether he can play.

NEW PEN

Before the game, Los Angeles recalled RHP Matt West and optioned RHP Josh Ravin. West made his Dodgers debut, finishing the game by pitching two scoreless innings. Los Angeles acquired West from Toronto last month.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Giants: Gregor Blanco moved from right field to left when Aoki got hurt. Blanco played his second game back from a DL stint with a concussion.

Dodgers: RHP Joel Peralta (right shoulder) is returning to Los Angeles after a rehab stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

UP NEXT

Giants: RHP Tim Lincecum (7-3, 3.31 ERA) has made it through the sixth inning just once in his last six starts at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers: LHP Brett Anderson (2-4, 3.43 ERA) has just one win in seven starts at Chavez Ravine despite a 3.32 ERA.

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