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Taillon, newly revamped bullpen can’t handle Dodgers as Pirates lose, 8-5

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jameson Taillon’s dismal second half continued and the Pirates’ new bullpen arrivals provided anything but relief as the Pirates lost to the Dodgers, 8-5.

From the start, Taillon couldn’t find the strike zone. Nothing sums up his outing better than the fact that he walked five — the most he’s ever walked in a professional game — and struck out just one. He gave up a run right off the bat on a leadoff double in the first and two groundouts. In the second, a single and two walks set up a bloop RBI single by Taillon’s mound opponent and a two-run single by Chris Taylor. Only a line drive double play got Taillon out of the inning.

If nothing else, the Pirates have made it impossible for fans — at least the ones who are actually following the games — to indulge in the popular notion that a team struggling through a poor season has “quit,” or that the manager has “lost the clubhouse.” They came storming back in the third, starting surprisingly enough with a single by Taillon. Starling Marte followed that with his fourth HR. The Pirates then loaded the bases for Josh Harrison, who doubled off the Clemente Wall for two runs. John Jaso drove in another with a ground out and the Pirates led, 5-4.

With Taillon struggling the way he was, though, the lead wasn’t going to last. He walked two more batters in the fourth, setting up a run on a two-out smash by Taylor that Harrison couldn’t handle. Taillon managed a scoreless fifth, but by then he’d thrown 101 pitches, only 55 for strikes. He allowed five runs, leaving him with an ERA of 8.24 in eight starts since July 15.

The outgunned Pirates couldn’t do anything with the Dodgers’ bullpen, but LA didn’t have the same problem. Adrian Gonzalez greeted the newly arrived Johnny Barbato with a hard grounder that Josh Bell whiffed on. It went for a double and Gonzalez later scored on a two-out single, giving the Dodgers a 6-5 lead. In the seventh, the newly arrived Edgar Santana surrendered a walk and a HR to the first two batters he faced, making it 8-5. And that’s where it stayed.

If the Cubs, leading as I write this, hold on, the Pirates will be 9.5 games out of first. They also trail Milwaukee by four and a half and will probably trail St. Louis, which is losing badly, by three and a half.