LOS ANGELES ― The game found Mookie Betts again and again. Again and again, he responded. By the time it was over, he had broken a franchise record held by Jackie Robinson and needed only a triple to hit for the cycle.
Betts did all he could. The Dodgers still lost, 6-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates before an announced crowd of 46,724 at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers’ right fielder nearly threw out a runner at home plate in the top of the ninth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Betts hit a double that bounced off the warning track and over the fence in right-center field. That hit matched Jackie Robinson’s record of 22 extra-base hits in the month of May. It also extended the inning for the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup.
Freddie Freeman drew a walk. Trea Turner flew out to right field for the second out of the inning. Will Smith swung and missed at a split-fingered fastball from David Bednar, ending a seven-pitch at-bat ― and the game ― as Betts was stranded on second base.
Craig Kimbrel (0-1) blew his first save as a Dodger, inheriting a 5-4 lead before allowing two runs in the ninth inning.
Bednar (2-1) allowed two runs in the eighth inning, but stayed in to pitch the ninth inning, ultimately emerging from the see-saw battle with a victory. The Pirates had not won a game at Dodger Stadium since August 14, 2016.
The Dodgers were trailing 4-3 when Trea Turner led off the eighth inning with a line drive to left field. While most would have been content with a single, Turner rounded first base and found an extra gear. The double extended his hitting streak to 22 games.
The next batter, Smith, hit a fly ball to deep right field, allowing Turner to tag up and go to third. Bednar struck out Edwin Rios for the second out, then got ahead of Justin Turner 0-and-2.
Bednar, however, made the critical mistake of throwing three consecutive fastballs in roughly the same place. Turner connected on the third, rocketing a double to left-center and scoring Trea Turner with the game-tying run.
The next batter, Chris Taylor, got under a fastball down the middle of the plate. Nobody could get under his pop-up as three fielders converged in shallow right field. Turner, who was running from second base on contact, scored on Taylor’s single. The Dodgers led 5-4.
Manager Dave Roberts summoned Kimbrel to pitch the ninth inning, but the lead was not safe. Kimbrel walked Diego Castillo. A wild pitch moved Castillo to second base.
The next batter, Michael Perez, lined a single to right field and Betts came up throwing as Castillo attempted to score. The throw was on line. Castillo, however, was a hair too fast, eluding Smith’s tag as he slid toward the foul-territory side of home plate. The game was tied 5-5.
Michael Chavis pinch ran for Perez, then scored from second base when first baseman Freddie Freeman allowed a routine ground ball to glance off his glove into right field. The error gave the Pirates a 6-5 lead.
Solo home runs by Betts, Hanser Alberto and Rios ignited the Dodgers’ comeback from an early 4-0 deficit.
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler threw six innings before handing the ball to Yency Almonte for the seventh and eighth. The Pirates did all their damage on a pair of home runs, leaving Buehler in a 4-0 hole after three innings.
Zach Thompson, the Pirates’ starter, shone in his Dodger Stadium debut. The 6-foot-7 right-hander faced only three batters above the minimum until there were two outs in the fifth inning. Alberto, who was a last-minute addition to the lineup, clubbed a home run over the left-center field fence to give the Dodgers a run.
Cody Bellinger was listed as the center fielder in the Dodgers’ original lineup, but was scratched with stiffness in his left leg. Kevin Pillar shifted from left field to center, Gavin Lux shifted from second base to left, and Alberto got the start at second. It was only his third start against a right-handed pitcher this season.
Betts, the next batter, hit his 15th home run of the season to left field, trimming the Pirates’ lead to 4-2.
Thompson was removed from the game in the sixth inning with Rios, a left-handed hitter, due up. Left-hander Dillon Thomas took over and promptly served up an opposite-field home run to Rios, his seventh this year. Rios has only 10 hits in his career against lefties, but five are home runs.
Buehler did not record a single swing and miss on his four-seam fastball. He compensated by throwing his other pitches more. But he could not avoid the four-seamer altogether. Of the seven times the Pirates put the pitch in play, two landed over the fence and another netted a single.
The first home run, by Tucupita Marcano, gave Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead in the second inning. It came at an inopportune time for the Dodgers, in the wake of a walk and a single. Buehler fell behind Marcano 2-and-0, before the diminutive Venezuelan pulled the ball over the fence in right-center field.
With one out in the third inning, Bryan Reynolds was gearing up for Buehler’s four-seamer. He got one on the first pitch and hit it to the same section of seats as Marcano. The Pirates led 4-0.
The scouting report on Buehler was already out ― opponents were hitting .367 against his four-seamer before Monday ― but his frustration was seldom visible. After the second inning ended Monday, Buehler threw his glove into the bat rack in the Dodgers’ dugout. After the third inning he flung the blue leather mitt, backhanded, into the Dodgers’ bench.
With 11 home runs in May, Betts has one day remaining to break Roy Campanella’s franchise record of 12 in the month. The Dodgers’ record for home runs in any month is 15, set by Duke Snider in August 1953 and tied by Pedro Guerrero in June 1983.