Dodgers 5 Pirates 4: No Sweep For You
By Alex Campos
The Dodgers dug a hole early, but crawled out to avoid a four-game sweep in Pittsburgh.
For the second consecutive game, the Dodgers’ starter allowed four runs in an inning. Usually not a good recipe for success.
Scott Kazmir struggled out of the gate, as he walked the first batter of the game. After a long flyout, Kazmir gave up a two-strike double to Andrew McCutchen, a walk, a two-strike RBI single, a full count bases loaded walk and a two-strike two-run single to give the Pirates a four-run first. The theme of the inning was the count, as six men reached base for the Pirates, five of which had two strikes. Kazmir didn’t have a putaway pitch, and his struggle of a season reached perhaps its lowest point in his 40-pitch first inning in Pittsburgh.
Fortunately, after that horrorshow of an inning, Kazmir settled down rather nicely. He retired the next 12 batters he faced and gave the Dodgers a chance as he got through five innings.
Unlike Sunday night’s game, the Dodgers offense picked up their struggling pitcher. Francisco Liriano worked around the bases loaded in the first inning and kept the Dodgers off the board, but they scratched in the third after Chris Taylor led off with a triple in his first Dodger plate appearance. He was cashed in on a sac fly to cut the deficit to three, where it remained until the fifth inning.
In the fifth, leadoff hitter Enrique Hernandez drew a one-out walk, his third walk in three plate appearances at that point. Justin Turner doubled and Trayce Thompson worked a walk to load the bases, and Yasiel Puig singled in two runs. Jared Hughes took over for Liriano and promptly allowed a single to Howie Kendrick to tie the game. Puig stayed on second instead of taking the extra base on the throw home, but he got to third when Erik Kratz tried to pick him off at second from behind the plate and the throw went into center. Puig scored on an A.J. Ellis infield single to give the Dodgers the lead.
Kazmir nearly gave up the lead right away as he put two Pirates on in the fifth, but he struck out Starling Marte to keep the Dodgers up. Obviously, giving up four runs is far from ideal. But after an awful first inning, if you told me that Kazmir would get through five and leave with a lead, I’d have thought you were crazy.
Louis Coleman, J.P. Howell and Joe Blanton kept the Pirates off the board until the eighth. Pedro Baez got the eighth and looked about as good as he’s looked all season, striking out Jung Ho Kang and Marte on eight pitches. With two quick outs, Dave Roberts pulled Baez for Kenley Jansen, who struck out Josh Harrison to end the eighth. This was confusing, as a lot of the time Baez has been left in during his struggles. To pull him after making two of the best hitters in the Pirates look silly was questionable, but more Jansen is never a bad thing.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the top of the ninth but failed to add any insurance for Jansen. Jansen allowed a walk and a stolen base in the ninth, but closed the door for the win.
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Obviously a disappointing four-game series, but the Dodgers stole one and now head to Milwaukee, where there’s no reason they shouldn’t take two of three at worst. They avoid an annoying, depressing flight and still have a chance at a winning road trip.