Dodgers Battle Back From Early Deficit To Avoid Being Swept By Pirates
Dodgers Battle Back From Early Deficit To Avoid Being Swept By Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With memories of their six-game winning streak quickly fading, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered play on Monday looking to avoid being swept in a four-game series by the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time since 1944.

Francisco Liriano’s trouble with walks this season crept up early as he opened the game by putting Kiké Hernandez on base. Hernandez had to hold on a pop up to shallow left field that wound up dropping between Jordy Mercer and Starling Marte, and the play resulted in a force out at second base.

Yasiel Puig then flied out to end a scoreless inning. Scott Kazmir was haunted yet again by his ongoing first-inning struggles. Mercer drew a leadoff walk and Andrew McCutchen’s double put two runners in scoring position with one out.

After Jung-Ho Kang walked to load the bases, Starling Marte poked an RBI single into right field. Sean Rodriguez kept the inning alive by drawing a two-out walk that brought in another run.

Erik Kratz tacked on a two-run single to give the Pirates a 4-0 lead before Kazmir could get out of the inning on 40 pitches. Liriano easily worked his way through the second, retiring Howie Kendrick, Scott Van Slyke and A.J. Ellis in order.

In line with what’s been commonplace, Kazmir shook off a shaky first inning and set the Pirates down in order in the second. In his first at-bat since being traded to the Dodgers, Chris Taylor led off the third with a triple over McCutchen’s head in center field.

Hernandez drew his second walk of the game to put runners on the corners with one out. Justin Turner’s sacrifice fly got the Dodgers on the board in what was their lone run scored in the inning. Kazmir picked up back-to-back strikeouts in the bottom of the third en route to throwing another 1-2-3 inning.

A Van Slyke two-out single and Ellis walk in the fourth didn’t amount to anything as Liriano retired Taylor. Meanwhile, Kazmir continued to pitch well, extending his streak of consecutive batters retired to 10.

The Dodgers broke through in a big way in the fifth inning, beginning with a Hernandez one-out walk. Turner doubled down the right field line and Trayce Thompson followed with a walk to load the bases. Liriano gave up a two-run single to Yasiel Puig and was removed from the game.

Jared Hughes entered and promptly allowed a game-tying RBI base hit to Howie Kendrick. Kratz’s attempt to back-pick Puig at second base was to no avail, and Puig advanced to third base as the throw got away.

That proved key as Ellis legged out an RBI infield single in the hole to shortstop to give the Dodgers a 5-4 lead. Kazmir’s string of batters retired ended at 12 in a row on McCutchen’s two-out single in the bottom of the fifth.

Kang extended the inning with a walk but Kazmir stranded the tying run in scoring position by striking out Marte. Pinch-hitters Joc Pederson and Adrian Gonzalez both grounded out, and Turner lined out in a quiet sixth inning.

Rodriguez doubled in the bottom of the sixth off Louis Coleman, who gave way to J.P. Howell with Matt Joyce pinch hitting. Joyce wasn’t able to check his swing on a pitch outside of the zone and struck out to end the inning.

With one out and Mercer standing on first base, McCutchen beat the throw from second base to avoid hitting into an inning-ending double play. However, McCutchen was then caught stealing as he slid off the bag.

Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen combined to strike out the side in the eighth inning to protect the Dodgers’ 5-4 lead. Jansen then returned to the mound in the ninth and worked around a two-out walk to convert the four-out save opportunity.