McCutchen powers Pirates past Dodgers, 5-3
LOS ANGELES — Andrew McCutchen saw just five pitches during his first three at-bats Sunday against Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke.
That was enough to do a lot of damage.
McCutchen belted three extra-base hits, including a solo homer, and scored three runs to power the Pirates to a 5-3 victory.
“I was ready to hit,” McCutchen said. “I got myself in a good hitting position, and I was ready to fire.”
Josh Harrison also homered. Pedro Alvarez drove in three runs, his best effort since May 5.
Right-hander Edinson Volquez (3-4) scattered five hits over five innings and allowed two runs.
“I played here (last year), so I had a good idea how their hitters approach it,” Volquez said. “I had better fastball command than I did (last week) in New York, so I was able to keep the ball down and throw more strikes.”
The Pirates took three of four games in the series. It's the first time they've won at least three games in a season at Dodger Stadium since 2000, when they made two trips and went 4-2.
After drawing six walks over the previous five games, McCutchen didn't give Greinke a chance pitch around him.
With four plus pitches, Greinke (8-2) has too many weapons for the Pirates to dither at the plate.
“You've got to hop on balls over the middle of the plate,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “If he's shaving (the edges of the zone) and all four pitches are there, it's going to be a big challenge. If there's a mistake made, we've got to find a way to get one. We've got to be aggressive within the zone.”
The first three batters of the game came out swinging. Harrison and Neil Walker flied out on the second pitch of their respective at-bats. McCutchen ripped the first pitch he saw off the center-field wall for a double.
Ike Davis and Russell Martin took borderline pitches for balls and walked to load the bases.
Against Alvarez, Greinke tried to even the count with a 2-1 fastball slightly up and toward the outer edge of the zone. Alvarez hopped it past shortstop Hanley Ramirez for a two-run single.
The Dodgers got a run back in the second. Matt Kemp hit a double that bounced into the right-field seats. When a changeup drifted over the middle of the plate, Justin Turner slapped it up the middle for a run-scoring single.
A first-round pick in 2002, Greinke has pitched for the Kansas City Royals (2004-10), Milwaukee Brewers (2011-12) and Dodgers.
“Beating him at home is hard to do, whatever uniform he's been in,” Hurdle said.
Going into the game, Greinke was 67-32 with a 3.26 ERA at home vs. 47-51 with a 3.96 ERA on the road. His strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.37 vs. 2.85) and opponents' OPS (.682 vs. .728) also are significantly better at home.
When it comes to hitting home runs, McCutchen also has been much better at home this year. But in the third inning, he hit a solo shot to right-center field — his first this season away from PNC Park.
It was McCutchen's first homer since he went deep in three straight games April 21-23.
That blast was the Pirates' only hit from the second through the fifth innings. After throwing 27 pitches in the first inning, Greinke fired only 37 over the next three combined. In one stretch, he struck out five of seven batters.
As he did in his previous start against the New York Mets, Volquez touched 95-96 mph with a handful of pitches. In the fourth inning, he threw a 94 mph fastball that Turner launched into the left field seats to make it 3-2.
Greinke faltered in the sixth. It began with McCutchen's double into the left-field corner — the first time he had three extra-base hits in a game since June 5, 2010, against the San Francisco Giants.
With one out, Martin was hit by a pitch. Alvarez singled to center, scoring McCutchen.
In the seventh, Harrison hit a long foul ball down the left field line. On the next pitch, he homered to right-center.
“The first one, when I hit it, I knew I got it. But it was one of those, try to bend it back fair,” Harrison said. “After that, I was ready to hit again.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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