Before the start of this Los Angeles road trip, pundits made much of the Pirates' recent lack of success in games at Dodger Stadium. That's one of the nice things about baseball, though - every new day brings another game, and another chance to turn things around.
Last night, the Pirates got things right, posting a 6-3 victory against Big Blue in a back-and-forth game whose outcome was in doubt until late. The Dodgers struck first in the bottom of the opening frame. Andre Ethier smacked a ball down the right field line, which deflected off of Ike Davis's glove and ended up as a triple. Yasiel Puig then hit a can of corn to shallow right field, which agonizingly dropped just between a converging Neil Walker and Josh Harrison. Ethier came home, and the irrepressible Puig scooted all the way to second base. The Pirates got that run back at the top of the second, though, as Pedro Alvarez dropped a fly ball into the deep right field bleachers.
The Dodgers pulled ahead again in the bottom of the inning, as Dee Gordon singled to drive Justin Turner Home. Gordon then stole both second and third base, but Cole struck out Ethier to strand Gordon and limit the damage. The Pirates evened the score in the fifth, when Harrison singled Clint Barmes home, and then took the lead for the first time in the following inning on the strength of another well-struck home run, this one a no-doubter to left from Russell Martin. Puig collected his second double of the game in the bottom of the sixth and scored on a single from Hanley Ramirez, and things were all knotted up at three.
The turning point of the game came in the seventh inning, with Dodgers starter Dan Haren finally out of the game. Starling Marte reached base on a throwing error by Ramirez. He then apparently stole second, but the call was overturned on appeal and he was called out. Reliever Brandon League then surrendered hits to Barmes, Harrison, and Neil Walker, giving the Pirates a 5-3 lead. League walked Andrew McCutchen, Don Mattingly brought Paul Maholm in from the pen, and then pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez doubled to left, scoring Walker and giving the Pirates a three-run margin that would stand as the game's final score. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Jason Grilli allowed only one walk and one hit over a collective 2 2/3 innings of relief, and Grilli was credited with his sixth save.
The series continues at 10:10 tonight, with Francisco Liriano taking the hill for the Bucs and Josh Beckett doing the duties for the Dodgers.