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Pirates come back, score nine in the seventh, and beat Dodgers 13-6

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates overcame a wobbly start from Charlie Morton and roared back to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 13-6, completing a series sweep before three consecutive sellout crowds.

Morton's pitching put the Pirates into an early hole. He gave up two runs on three hits in the top of first, the Dodgers aggressively attacking non-sinking sinkers up in the zone. He gave up four more hits in the third, three of which were of the patented Charlie Morton variety--grounders that found holes in the infield. Fortunately for Morton and the Pirates, those four hits yielded the Dodgers only one run thanks to a baserunning gaffe by Andre Ethier, who got caught between second and third on Yasmani Grandal's single to center.

The Pirates got their first run in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Francisco Cervelli that drove in Aramis Ramirez, who had doubled and moved to third. But Morton got into more trouble in the top of the fifth and allowed the Dodgers to take a 5-1 lead. A poor play at first by Michael Morse, doing his best Pedro Alvarez impersonation, allowed Howie Kendrick to reach first on a slow roller to his right that he should have charged more aggressively. Kendrick left the game with an apparent hamstring injury after the play. Morton then walked Ethier and gave up a single to Grandal, scoring pinch-runner Enrique Hernandez. A flare to left by Alberto Callaspo that Starling Marte was unable to catch drove in Ethier with the fifth Dodger run.

The Pirates' comeback began in the bottom of the fifth. After Dodgers starter Alex Wood walked Marte, Andrew McCutchen worked the count to 3-2 and then miraculously and decisively turned on a high fastball from Wood and drove it deep over the fence in center field for a two-run homer, his 17th of the season. After Wood walked Ramirez and hit Jung-Ho Kang with a pitch, Morse grounded into a double play. But the Pirates' bats seemed to be awakening.

Arquimedes Caminero then entered the game and pitched an easy top of the sixth, providing a welcome respite from Morton's earlier struggles. He got into a bit of trouble in the top of the seventh on a two-out single and stolen base by Carl Crawford and a walk to Callaspo, but he got Joc Pederson to bounce to second to complete a second scoreless inning.

Then came the bottom of the seventh, which would be the Pirates' biggest inning since July, 2012. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had told the ESPN announcers before the game that he was still trying to figure out what to do with pitching in the seventh and eighth innings, and here came a graphic illustration. He elected to go with Jim Johnson, recently acquired from the Atlanta Braves. After Johnson struck out Ramirez, he hit Kang with a pitch, this time in the back after he had previously been hit by Wood in the butt. Pedro Alvarez, batting for Caminero, moved Kang to third with a drive to right center. Yasiel Puig, who had entered the game on defense that inning, was able to cut the ball off nicely, but his throw into the infield missed the cutoff man and Alvarez advanced to second on the throwing error. Cervelli then singled to drive in Kang, and Neil Walker's fly to a diving Ethier in shallow left enabled Alvarez to score. The Pirates had tied the game 5-5; there were two outs, and Cervelli was on first.

And then the Pirates scored seven more. A single by Sean Rodriguez and a walk to Gregory Polanco loaded the bases. Marte dribbled a swinging bunt in the direction of third that the Dodgers could only observe passively, scoring Cervelli. 6-5. McCutchen singled between short and third, scoring Rodriguez and Polanco. Ramirez's single scored Marte. Finally, Mattingly removed Johnson and brought in Joel Peralta to face Kang. Still smarting from his two previous at-bats, Kang drove Peralta's first pitch deep to right field for an opposite field, three-run homer. Sweet revenge. When the inning had ended, the Pirates had scored nine runs, eight of which were charged to Johnson and seven of which came with two outs.

"The Pirates just went nuts in the bottom of the seventh inning," said someone on ESPN, either Curt Schilling or John Kruk, as the broadcast resumed following the ED commercials. Home runs by Hernandez off Hughes in the top of the eighth and Cervelli off Peralta in the bottom of the eighth ended the scoring on this wild night. A sweep of the NL West leaders, in a series punctuated by such an offensive uprising, was not a bad way to go into a key series against the St. Louis Cardinals.