Up 4-0 in Monday’s game, it appeared the Pittsburgh Pirates were well on their way to a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. But before anyone could say, “Get out the brooms,” the Pirates gave up the lead and lost the game 5-4.
The Pirates got the Dodgers on the ropes early when Los Angeles pitcher Scott Kazmir struggled through a 40-pitch first inning. Pittsburgh left fielder Starling Marte started the scoring with an RBI single. Right fielder Sean Rodriguez added to the tally by drawing a walk with the bases loaded, and an Erik Kratz single scored the other two runs.
But that all became moot when Liriano’s control issues showed up once again — by game’s end, Liriano’s WHIP was at 1.66. He only made it 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on five hits. And, Monday, Liriano (4-8, 5.33 ERA) had five walks, giving him 54 this season.
To start off the fifth inning, Liriano got Kazmir to strike out. But then the Pirate allowed four consecutive base runners, two via singles and two by walks. One of those singles, off Dodgers’ right fielder Yasiel Puig’s bat, scored two runs. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle couldn’t wait any longer and walked to the mound to pull his starter. But the damage had been done.
It’s becoming more and more clear that Hurdle is getting frustrated with his starting pitcher, who is making over $13 million this season.
Hurdle then brought in reliever Jared Hughes, who has a history of getting ground ball outs and stranding inherited runners. However, this hasn’t been a good year for Hughes in either regard. Coming into Monday’s game, Hughes inherited 17 baserunners — and seven of them scored.
Hughes struggled again today, and both Howie Kendrick and A.J. Ellis recorded RBI singles, giving the Dodgers the lead.
The Pirates couldn’t recover, and no runners passed second base after the Dodgers gained the advantage.
Still, this series win over the Dodgers is huge. Los Angeles came into this series on a hot streak, and the Pirates came into it struggling. Taking three games of a four-game series is something Pittsburgh should absolutely be happy about.
The Pirates begin a nine-game road trip out west when they face the Seattle Mariners. Tuesday, Jonathon Niese (6-5, 4.93 ERA) will pitch for the Pirates against the Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma (6-6, 4.45 ERA). Niese is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA in one career start against the Mariners.
Image credit: Carlos Osorio/Associated Press