Dodgers’ bullpen downs Pirates
The Los Angeles Dodgers keep losing pitchers and winning games. The latest trick by their workaholic bullpen may have been their most impressive.
Spot starter Dennis Santana was scratched minutes before the first pitch on Thursday against Pittsburgh. It hardly mattered. Nine relievers managed to do just enough to hold off the Pirates in an 8-7 victory.
Barely 12 hours removed from a loss that forced manager Dave Roberts to use eight pitchers, the bullpen door in center field opened early and often for the Dodgers. It didn’t stop Los Angeles from winning for the 15th time in its last 20 games to move back to .500 (31-31).
Daniel Hudson pitched a scoreless first in his first start since 2015 after the 22-year-old Santana complained of right lat tightness during warmups.
Pedro Baez (3-3) picked up the win by getting six outs. Kenley Jansen worked around a pinch-hit homer by Francisco Cervelli in the ninth to collect his 15th save in 17 opportunities.
Joc Pederson went deep twice and Cody Bellinger hit his third home run in as many games for the Dodgers. Pederson led off the game with a solo blast off Jameson Taillon (3-5) and added a two-run shot in the eighth off Michael Feliz for his second multi-home run game in a week.
“Their lineup is deep, it’s tough,” Taillon said. “I thought I had really good stuff today. I thought I made a lot of good pitches and they were really zoned in.”
Bellinger finished 3 for 4, including a shot just over the wall in the sixth to give the Dodgers a three-run advantage. The first baseman entered the series in a 5-for-54 funk but has focused on trying to spray the ball around instead of pulling everything.
“If you can do that, then you’re a tough out,” Bellinger said.
Taillon allowed three runs in five innings. Elias Diaz hit his fourth home run and drove in four for the Pirates, and Cervelli’s homer pushed his total to a career-high nine. Josh Harrison had two of Pittsburgh’s nine hits, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Pirates from losing their sixth consecutive series while dropping to .500 (31-31).
The victory marked the 10th time in 13 games that Dodger relievers have worked at least four innings.
“They took on a heavy workload,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “They got out of here with a series win, which doesn’t leave a good taste.”
Pirates: Start a six-game road trip in Chicago on Friday against the Cubs. Chad Kuhl (4-3, 3.86) faces Mike Montgomery (1-1, 3.89) in the opener. The Cubs took three of four in Pittsburgh last week.