LOS ANGELES ― Barring a miraculous turnaround, the Pittsburgh Pirates will miss the postseason in 2022. Adding a third wild-card berth in each league can only do so much for a rebuilding club that ended the month of May with a 21-27 record.
As far as the Dodgers are concerned, Pittsburgh is the best team in the National League. They have lost four of five games to the Pirates this year, including a 5-3 defeat on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Mercifully for the Dodgers, the season series will conclude on Wednesday evening. Were it not for their 11-1 win in Pittsburgh on May 10, the Dodgers would be looking to steal pity from the Steel City.
“Obviously they’re scoring more runs than us but, yeah, just one of those funky things,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “We’ll regroup and try to salvage one tomorrow.”
At 33-16, the Dodgers still own the National League’s best record. That merely added to the bewilderment of their back-to-back losses to begin a seven-game homestand.
Dodgers starter Julio Urías (3-5) made few mistakes outside of the home runs he allowed to Tucupita Marcano and Michael Chavis. He threw 70 of his 91 pitches for strikes. He walked one batter and struck out eight in six innings. He allowed eight hits but, other than the homers, none were the result of hard contact.
The offense was more culpable.
With Cody Bellinger sidelined for a second straight night with a strained left adductor muscle, the Dodgers mustered four hits against Mitch Keller (2-5) and four relievers. Five of their 11 strikeouts were called by home plate umpire Nate Tomlinson. They left eight runners on base and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
“We had seven walks and just couldn’t finish an inning,” Manager Dave Roberts said.
Urías ranked third among qualified National League starters last season in run support – more than six per game – and he finished with the league’s only 20-win season. This year the Dodgers are scoring about three runs per game for Urías, and he is their only starter with a losing record.
Just as they did a day earlier, the Pirates mounted an early 4-0 lead on the strength of two home runs.
Urías walked Ke’Bryan Hayes to begin the game, then served up a two-run homer to Chavis. In the second inning, Urías allowed a soft single to Tyler Heineman and another home run to sudden slugger Marcano on back-to-back pitches.
Marcano, a 22-year-old rookie, had never homered in a major league game before this week. He has two in two games against the Dodgers.
“(Monday) he was ahead in the count and attacked the fastball,” Urías said through an interpreter. “(Tuesday), first-pitch fastball, and he hit it out of the park. Afterward, we made the adjustment to go softer, throw more breaking balls.”
Trea Turner’s home run, his fifth of the season, came two batters after Mitch Keller walked Mookie Betts to begin the third inning. That halved the Dodgers’ deficit to 4-2.
The Dodgers cut the lead to 4-3 thanks to some astute baserunning by Justin Turner. Tyler Beede relieved Keller in the sixth inning and walked Turner, then allowed a line-drive single to Chris Taylor. Turner turned on the jets and took third base uncontested.
With Kevin Pillar at the plate, Beede threw a low changeup that got past Heineman, the catcher. Pillar swung and missed at strike three, but Turner raced home from third base with the Dodgers’ third run.
The Dodgers put only one runner on base over the final three innings. Freddie Freeman led off the seventh with a hard-hit liner to the right-center field gap, but he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Chris Stratton struck out the side in the eighth. Will Crowe retired the side in order in the ninth.
“Outside of the one game we won, they’ve really done a great job of preventing runs against us,” Roberts said. “We just haven’t found a way to score consistently. We have to give them credit. They’re doing something right. We have (Jose) Quintana (Wednesday), who’s given us fits. We have to find a way to figure him out.”