Dodgers get the hits, but not the runs in loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-1
The two numbers stood side by side on the scoreboard at Dodger Stadium, an incongruent pair in a dreary 5-1 Dodgers defeat. In the runs column stood the lone tally, not nearly enough to overcome the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the hits column was the number 12, a double-digit total that revealed the frustration burbling beneath the surface of the result.
“It’s just one of those games that nothing went our way,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “I don’t think it’s an indication of where we’re at, scoring one run tonight.”
In losing their second game in a row, the Dodgers (64-51) could not sequence their offense properly. Pittsburgh starter Ivan Nova gave up one run, and nine hits. The Dodgers’ Ross Stripling yielded five runs and six hits. The Pirates utilized a device capable of defusing any defensive strategy: The home run. A pair of solo shots sullied Stripling’s line.
With the blister on Rich Hill’s left hand still pestering him, the Dodgers called upon Stripling for the second time this week. He had quieted the high-powered Boston offense for five scoreless innings last Sunday. Pittsburgh had a run after the first three at-bats on Friday. In a troubling display of defensive inefficiency, the Dodgers gave up three runs in the first inning even though only two balls were hit out of the infield.
“The first inning was obviously frustrating,” Stripling said.
Josh Harrison, the Pirates’ leadoff hitter, legged out an infield hit when Corey Seager could not make a throw in time from shortstop. Left fielder Starling Marte ripped a single into center field, and center fielder Andrew McCutchen slapped an RBI single past the outstretched glove of third baseman Justin Turner.
McCutchen stole second base, then third baseman David Freese tapped a grounder up the middle. The ball bounced over Stripling’s head. Seager charged but could only hold the baseball, unable to make a throw. A second run scored.
With Freese at first and McCutchen at third, shortstop Jordy Mercer hit a grounder to Seager. He fed Utley, who bounced a throw to first trying to turn a double play. The Dodgers have turned only 52 double plays this season, the fewest in the majors. McCutchen came home for the third run.
The Dodgers can live with occasional gaffes from Seager in the field. Most scouts and advanced metrics agree that he profiles as an average defender, not particularly prone to the mistakes that dogged him in Friday’s first inning. But the runs still counted, and they placed Stripling in an early hole.
“It was something that was uncharacteristic,” Roberts said of Seager’s struggles.
The clubs traded runs in the second and third innings. After a two-out double by Joc Pederson, the Pirates elected to pitch to Howie Kendrick, rather than walk him and face Stripling. Kendrick singled Pederson home.
Pittsburgh extended the advantage back to three runs in the top of the third, when McCutchen crushed a 91-mph fastball from Stripling for a solo homer. McCutchen was the only Pirate to reach base from the second through the sixth innings. Stripling would complete seven innings for the first time since his debut on April 8, retiring 11 in a row between McCutchen’s homer and another by Mercer leading off the seventh.
“Overall, I feel fine,” Stripling said. “But the results are not what you want.”
The Dodgers experienced success in the act of greeting the pitches of Nova with the barrels of their bats. Finding runs was more difficult. Pittsburgh fields a fleet-footed outfield, including left fielder Marte, who ran down a line drive off the bat of Josh Reddick in the fifth inning, transforming a potential RBI double into the third out. “Those guys over there, they can defend,” Roberts said.
The sixth inning started more kindly for the Dodgers, when Adrian Gonzalez smashed a belt-high curveball to center. McCutchen dived for the ball, only to see it deflect off his glove, and Gonzalez had a double. One out later, Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle removed Nova, rather than let him face Pederson for a third time. But Pederson, who had doubled in his first two at-bats, struck out against left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo after getting ahead in the count 3-1, and Kendrick grounded out to end the inning.
Mercer accounted for the game’s final run when he deposited a Stripling fastball over the left-field fence. A fan chucked the ball back onto the diamond, a futile act on a night marked by frustration.
Follow Andy McCullough Twitter @McCulloughTimes
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