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Pirates' three homers key 11-3 win

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates ruined Brett Anderson's season debut Sunday, pelting him for five runs in the first inning en route to a 8-3 win that clinched a series victory over the Dodgers.

Jordy Mercer and Sean Rodriguez gave Anderson, who had missed the entire season thus far with a back injury, a rude welcome back. Josh Harrison led off the game with a single, and Mercer followed by smashing a very poorly placed two-seamer for a two-run shot to left center. Anderson recorded two outs before Jung Ho Kang walked and Francisco Cervelli singled, setting up Rodriguez's three-run bomb to right center. Anderson departed after the inning due to a wrist sprain, with little to show for his first season outing but a 45.00 ERA.

The Bucs added runs in the fourth (on an Andrew McCutchen single) and fifth (on a Harrison double). In the ninth, the Pirates tacked on four more runs against Josh Fields, including, for the second consecutive day, a no-doubt homer by Kang. After yesterday's RISP disaster, the Pirates responded today with a 16-hit effort in which baserunners actually scored.

In any case, the first inning provided Chad Kuhl and the Pirates' bullpen with more than enough support. Kuhl had a strong start, pitching six innings and allowing two runs (one on a Joc Pederson solo homer) while striking out five and walking none. He also got eight ground-ball outs. Kuhl's third straight quality start dropped his ERA to 3.73. Antonio Bastardo, a very sharp-looking Felipe Rivero, and Juan Nicasio took over from there.

The win moved the Pirates to within a game of the Marlins and Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot, at 59-56. The Cardinals play tonight. The Marlins beat the White Sox today, but lost Giancarlo Stanton for the season with a groin strain.