The Los Angeles Dodgers began their seven-game road trip after an off-day spent traveling and riding a season-high six-game winning streak. A Pittsburgh Pirates team that had lost 13 of their last 15 games has won two consecutive games at the Dodgers’ expense.
Pittsburgh outslugged the Dodgers in a back-and-forth affair in the series opener, and hurt Kenta Maeda late in the second game of the series. While Jeff Locke was drawing much of the attention for his perfect game bid, Maeda was nearly as brilliant.
He issued a leadoff walk in the first inning but stranded the runner and carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning. That was lost when Andrew McCutchen hit a one-out home run to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
Los Angeles tied the game in the top of the sixth, only for Maeda and Joe Blanton to struggle in the bottom half of the inning.
After issuing a leadoff walk to John Jaso, Maeda allowed a base hit to Starling Marte. Despite a high pitch count, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stuck with his right-handed starter in a matchup against McCutchen.
It cost the Dodgers as the start center field clubbed a three-run homer. McCutchen was the final batter Maeda faced in his five-plus innings of work. Maeda lamented his performance after the loss, via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
“My job is to go deep into games and give my team a chance to win the game,” Maeda said. “So, yes, it is frustrating to not be able to do the job.”
Entering the start, Maeda had allowed two earned runs or less in each of his four June outings. He’d also completed at least 6.1 innings in three of the starts. What’s more, the 28 year old was 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in six road starts.
Getting length from starters not named Clayton Kershaw has been a consistent issue for the Dodgers this season. So much so the normally optimistic Roberts chided his rotation’s inability to pitch deep into games prior to Saturday’s contest.
Relief for the bullpen should come Sunday night as Clayton Kershaw once again takes the mound with the Dodgers coming off a loss.