SAN FRANCISCO — Eventually, Johnny Cueto and Yasmani Grandal spoke civilly and worked out their differences as grown men: They each apologized before tension escalated.
Cueto thought Grandal was stealing signs at second base from San Francisco catcher Buster Posey after a first-inning double. Grandal figured Cueto was throwing at his head in the third out of frustration and retaliation.
Grandal said “it caught me by surprise” and insists that wasn’t the case at all in the Dodgers’ 6-1 victory behind Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday, but rather just him trying to get ready to move “because I’m slow.”
“We talked about it, we apologized to each other, so we’re on good terms now I guess,” Grandal said. “Let’s not make it a bigger deal than it really is.”
The benches cleared briefly after the top of the third when Cueto and Grandal exchanged words.
It happened just after Cueto’s high, inside pitch flew wildly past Posey, allowing another Dodgers run home for a 3-0 lead.
Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said Cueto apparently also thought Corey Seager was relaying signs in the third with Grandal batting again, just before the wild pitch.
Grandal said there’s no way he knew what was coming on his two-run double in the first and lone hit, even though he hit a low 0-2 cut fastball well below his knees.
“Whether we were or we weren’t, obviously he was displeased by it and let us know,” Roberts said without acknowledging whether his team was in fact stealing signs. “It’s a part of the game, it’s part of baseball.”
Cueto and Grandal made their apologies when Cueto came to bat in the bottom of the third and Grandal was behind the plate.
“He said, ‘Sorry for the misunderstanding. Let’s just move on,’” Cueto said. “I’m not going to use that as an excuse but they were relaying signs.”
Kershaw took a share of the major league lead with his seventh win and earned career victory No. 20 against the rival Giants.
Kershaw (7-2) struck out five in seven shutout innings and retired his first 10 batters before Justin Ruggiano’s fourth-inning single.
The left-hander moved into a tie for most wins with Houston’s Dallas Keuchel.
Yasiel Puig singled in a pair of runs in the sixth as the Dodgers jumped on Cueto (4-3), who lost for the first time at home this season.
Kershaw allowed three hits and didn’t walk a batter for the fourth time in 2017 as the Dodgers snapped their three-game skid and ended the Giants’ season-best five-game winning streak.
Kershaw’s 20th victory against the Giants came in his 39th outing and 38th start of the rivalry. He is 12-4 with a 1.29 ERA at AT&T Park. He has allowed one or fewer walks in all but one of his starts.
Eduardo Nunez hit his first home run of the season in the ninth against former Giants reliever Sergio Romo before he finished the 2-hour, 37-minute game.
Cueto, who beat Kershaw and the Dodgers on May 1, allowed more than three earned runs for the first time in five starts and just the third in nine outings.
The right-hander lost for only the sixth time in 25 starts against the NL West since joining the Giants before the 2016 season and just the first time in six starts at AT&T Park since a defeat against the Diamondbacks here last Aug. 30.