There was undesirable deja vu for the Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Another early hole. Another failed comeback. Another loss at home to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.
Every season comes with unexpected dips. But a three-game sweep against a rebuilding, previously slumping, seemingly overmatched team? Even manager Dave Roberts had a hard time reconciling it after Wednesday’s 8-4 defeat at Dodger Stadium.
“I thought we had opportunities to change certain outcomes,” Roberts said. “And we just couldn’t capitalize.”
Wednesday’s game began like the previous two nights. The Pirates jumped out to an early lead, scoring a run on a walk and two singles in the first inning against starter Mitch White.
The game featured an unsuccessful comeback, mirroring the previous two nights, as well.
After a tying RBI single by Chris Taylor in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Pirates immediately retook the lead on a two-run home run from Bryan Reynolds in the top of the fifth.
In the next half-inning, the Dodgers (33-17) loaded the bases with no outs but came away with only one run, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
After Kevin Pillar drew a leadoff walk, Gavin Lux followed with a double and Mookie Betts reached on an infield single that was misplayed at third base.
But then, Freddie Freeman’s RBI groundout was followed by a Trea Turner strikeout and Justin Turner inning-ending pop out. It came against reliever Chase De Jong, who replaced starting pitcher José Quintana following his fifth consecutive start against the Dodgers giving up two runs or fewer.
The sixth inning also featured a mistake.
Chris Taylor drew a leadoff walk, but then was aggressive on the basepaths, trying to go first to third on a groundout after third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes threw it to first. Roberts said it wasn’t a bad decision. But when first baseman Michael Chavis fired a perfect throw across the diamond, Taylor was tagged out to squander the opportunity.
Another chance went by the wayside in the seventh.
Lux drew a leadoff walk. Betts singled and took second on the throw in the next at-bat. But again, Freeman and Trea Turner couldn’t produce.
Freeman hit into an unproductive groundout and Turner lifted a fly ball to center that was caught and converted for a double play, with Lux getting thrown out at the plate by Reynolds on another stellar defensive play.
“They made big plays on the defensive side that flipped innings and game situations,” Roberts said.
In all, the Dodgers went four for 13 with runners in scoring position Wednesday, and six for 28 in the series.
The Pirates, meanwhile, put Wednesday’s game away down the stretch, when Rodolfo Castro took Alex Vesia deep for a two-run homer in the eighth — the Pirates’ sixth home run of the series — and reliever Michael Grove gave up three runs in the ninth.
Not even a late two-run homer by Betts — his National League-leading 16th of the season — could spark a rally during the Dodgers final turn at the plate.
“They’re still a big league club,” Betts said. “We just didn’t play well. And they did.”
Though it might prove to be nothing more than a blip, the Dodgers’ 1-5 mark against the Pirates this season — they also dropped two of three games in Pittsburgh last month — will at minimum be a confounding blemish.
The Pirates entered this series 19-27 and had lost eight of their previous 12. They have a $55.7 million opening day payroll that ranked 28th in the majors.
And yet, they became the first non-NL West opponent to win five games against the Dodgers in a season since the Cincinnati Reds in 2018.
“There’s no real answer,” Justin Turner said. “Just weird baseball stuff.”
The good news for the Dodgers: This probably will be the final meeting between the two teams, with the Pirates looking like long shots at best to reach the postseason.
The bad news: That fact only adds to the indignation of their first sweep this season.
Kevin Pillar left Wednesday’s game early after his left shoulder “came out and then came back in” after a swing and slide in the sixth, according to Roberts. Pillar will get a scan Thursday. He was replaced by Cody Bellinger, who made his first appearance since Sunday because of an adductor strain. … Clayton Kershaw threw a bullpen session Wednesday and could head out on a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend. … Caleb Ferguson was back in the Dodgers clubhouse Wednesday and probably will be activated Thursday.