Dodgers, Mat Latos can’t find their groove in 6-5 loss to Pirates
Where to begin? The Dodgers lost, there’s that. They lost to the Pirates, 6-5, at PNC Park on Saturday afternoon.
They certainly could have won, but early on they were unable to truly figure out a laboring Francisco Liriano. Not on the mound, nor as it turned out, somewhat bizarrely at the plate.
Liriano had serious control issues, needing 79 pitches to last only three innings. But the Dodgers nibbled when they should have taken giant bites. And since their own starting pitcher was struggling right along with Liriano, that was not a good thing. Also, a very slow-in-the-making thing.
Mat Latos was one of two starting pitchers the Dodgers added at the non-waiver trade deadline to shore up their rotation. In his first outing for the Dodgers, he threw six strong innings and he trended like a solid addition. In his second start against the Pirates, not so much.
Latos (4-8) lasted four innings, giving up six runs on seven hits and a walk. He did not strike out a batter, had a lapse covering first base and almost refused to try to hold runners. He needed 78 pitches to struggle through his four innings.
Scott Van Slyke, starting in left field and batting cleanup, singled in a run in the first but the Pirates got it back in the bottom of the inning after Latos walked leadoff hitter Gregory Polanco. Starling Marte hit what looked like a clean single to right field, but when Polanco went casually into second base, right fielder Yasiel Puig barehanded the ball and fired to second for the force. Marte stole second and scored anyway on an Andrew McCutchen hit.
Throw in a couple of replay challenges, and the first inning took a snappy 37 minutes.
The Dodgers regained the lead in the second inning, going up 2-1 on singles by Latos, Howie Kendrick and Adrian Gonzalez.
Liriano must have liked this idea of the hitting pitcher. He followed a pair of singles with a three-run homer into the left-field corner. Not that Liriano hitting a home run is unusual, but it was the first of his 10-year career (150 at-bats).
The Dodgers tied the score in the third with a two-run homer from Enrique Hernandez, but Latos let the Pirates jump back in front in the bottom of the inning. McCutchen doubled, stole third base and scored on a ground out. Neil Walker added a solo homer and the Pirates had their 6-4 lead.
Since all that happened in the first three innings, plenty more offense seemed likely. Instead, neither team scored again until the Dodgers put one across in the ninth inning.
Both bullpens came up big. Yep, the Dodgers’ too. Pedro Baez threw two scoreless innings, and Luis Avilan and Joel Peralta each threw one.
And it did not matter, the Dodgers doing nothing against former Dodger Joe Blanton (three innings), Joakim Soria or Tony Watson (an inning each).
They did make it interesting against Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon in the ninth inning. Kendrick singled and scored on a one-out double by Van Slyke. The Dodgers thought Puig was safe at first when the foot of first baseman Sean Rodriguez came off the bag, but after another replay, officials ruled Puig out.
The Pirates asked for four reviews and won them all.
Joc Pederson walked, but a struggling Melancon struck out Yasmani Grandal on a curve to finish it and earn his league-leading 35th save.
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