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Home runs by Billy McKinney, Max Muncy lift Dodgers past Pirates

Dodgers' Billy McKinney celebrates his solo home run at home plate.
Dodgers’ Billy McKinney celebrates his solo home run at home plate during the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday at Dodger Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Coming into Monday night, the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates had beaten the Dodgers was June 6, 2018, an 11-9 thriller in which Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig played the corner outfield positions for the Dodgers. Despite not playing each other in 2020, the winning streak stood at 13 games — and 1,167 days.

For a brief moment Monday, it looked as if that streak would end. Then Billy McKinney and Max Muncy sent baseballs into the right-field bleachers, tying the score and putting the Dodgers ahead.

It took until the seventh inning for the Dodgers to score their first run of the game. It took until the eighth inning for them to go ahead. And it wasn’t a night when their offense was much to brag about. But, after returning from the East Coast at 4:30 in the morning, their winning streak over Pittsburgh would reach a 1,168th day.

Here are three observations from the 2-1 win.

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A successful debut

Andre Jackson’s major league debut ended the same way it started: a walk off the mound and what must have been a sigh of relief as he stranded two Pirates runners to escape a jam.

Jackson, who was recalled from triple-A Oklahoma City, pitched four scoreless innings for the Dodgers. He gave up just two hits and struck out five, flashing an impressive changeup to get Rodolfo Castro looking in the second.

He pitches 7.1 shutout innings as Dodgers win all three games of series with Pittsburgh.

Giving up three walks, Jackson worked in and out of trouble in the second and fifth innings. The first of those featured a balk that let two runners, Jacob Stallings and Gregory Polanco, move to second and third with two outs, but Jackson induced a groundout from pitcher Steven Brault to end the threat. In the fourth, walks to Castro and Ke’Bryan Hayes set up All-Star Bryan Reynolds with a chance to give the Pirates a lead with two outs. A hard-hit fly ball to right found McKinney’s glove.

“It was awesome,” Jackson said. “It was everything I thought it was gonna be and more.”

Jackson said he had about 50 friends and family members scattered throughout the ballpark. He arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday after being told Saturday he would be getting the call-up and spent the last 24 hours getting himself — and everyone else — situated. When the moment finally came, Jackson said, the nerves were less than he expected.

“I thought he kept his composure really well,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So proud of him earning this opportunity.”

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Dodgers' Max Muncy celebrates his solo home run.
Dodgers’ Max Muncy celebrates his solo home run during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday at Dodger Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

More struggles

Just one night after struggling on defense against the New York Mets, the Dodgers let the Pirates go ahead in the seventh inning thanks to miscues. It started when Brusdar Graterol hit Polanco with a pitch, but things spiraled when Trea Turner misplayed a Castro groundball, allowing him to reach.

The play was changed to an infield single after originally being scored an error. The next batter, Wilmer Difo, laid down a sacrifice bunt. First baseman Cody Bellinger threw the ball away, allowing Polanco to score from second.

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It’s the second night in a row in which the Dodgers have had issues on defense — both against inferior opponents. On Sunday, it didn’t end up mattering as they won in a blowout, and on Monday, it wasn’t decisive.

After a request by Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer for a continuance was denied, the hearing began with testimony from a woman who has accused him of sexual assault.

“I’m not concerned about it at all,” Roberts said. “Last night, I was a little frustrated by it, but tonight I think that we played a good ballgame.”

Kershaw due back?

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About two hours and 45 minutes before the first pitch, Clayton Kershaw was in left field at Dodger Stadium playing catch. When he finished, Kershaw, who has been out since early July because of left elbow inflammation, raised both his arms in mock celebration.

Before the game, Roberts said that Kershaw could be back in the rotation by next month.

“Best-case scenario is he’s making a couple starts in September,” Roberts said.


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