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By Jon Weisman
Jose Peraza isn’t purely a September callup. The 21-year-old second baseman-center fielder, the youngest Dodger position player since Adrian Beltre, had 13 plate appearances in four games for Los Angeles before today’s turn of the calendar.
But we’ll call him a late addition to the Dodgers, and what an addition so far.
The young sparkplug ignited and then all but sealed the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory over Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants, moving Los Angeles to a 5 1/2 game lead in the National League West.
“He seemed to play fearless,” Don Mattingly said.
In the third inning, Peraza singled and soon after raced home from second base for the Dodgers’ first run off Bumgarner. And in the eighth inning, shortly after Joc Pederson’s homer off Bumgarner doubled the Dodger lead, Peraza made a spectacular play, backhanding a Brandon Belt grounder with the tying run on second base and glove-flipping to Jimmy Rollins to start an inning-ending double play.
“I was looking to get it over to Jimmy,” said Peraza, who said he practices glove-flips periodically. “Thank God it worked out.”
In doing so, Peraza saved a vintage Zack Greinke outing from the wastebasket. Greinke allowed no runs on two hits over his first seven innings, then gave up three singles for a run in the eighth, setting up the game’s most dramatic moment.
Luis Avilan, relieving Greinke, allowed a long foul ball on his first pitch and needed seven in all to get Belt, but thanks to the double play, retired his 11th batter in a row over the past six games.
Peraza dropped a second-inning pop-up for an error — so much for perfection. But that was soon a distant memory.
“Maybe I do,” said Peraza, about whether he feels the pressure of being thrust into a Giants-Dodgers pennant race in his fifth Major League game, “but it basically comes down to me doing my job, and thank God things turned out well.”