Series win in L.A. could spark Pirates
SAN DIEGO — Will a stunning series against the Los Angeles Dodgers spark the Pirates for the second season in a row?
Late Sunday night, the Pirates played a textbook game and outlasted the Dodgers, 5-3, on ESPN's national broadcast. The Pirates took three of four games — beating pitchers Dan Haren, Josh Beckett and Zack Greinke — to snap their 13-series losing streak in Los Angeles.
It's the first time the Pirates won a series at Dodger Stadium since 2000, when they went 4-2 over two trips to the West Coast.
Suddenly, a 10-game road trip that could have poisoned any hopes of getting back to the playoffs now seems like a launching pad.
“It's good for us because we flat-out believe we can play,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We knew what we were facing, and we out-pitched them for three days. We played three really clean ballgames, as far as doing what you need to do when it's time to get something done.
“We have confidence, we have enough edge and grit that we just like to play. I think that showed up here this weekend. It was one of those things we needed to knock off our to-do list, and we were able to do it.”
In 2013, the Pirates limped into Dodger Stadium after opening the season with two losses in three games at home against the Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers hammered the Pirates, outscoring them 10-2 to sweep a three-game set.
Reeling with a 1-5 record, the Pirates went to Arizona, where Hurdle held a closed-door meeting with the team. His message was motivational: don't let those three losses in L.A. define the season.
It was the last time all season the Pirates were as many as four games under .500. They won 14 of their next 19 games and moved into first place in the NL Central.
Last week, the Pirates slunk into Los Angeles with a 23-29 record after a pair of ugly losses against the New York Mets.
But, after his club outplayed the Dodgers, Hurdle likely gave a very different kind of speech Monday before beginning the final leg of the journey against the San Diego Padres.
The Pirates probably can't play a more complete game than they did Sunday. Andrew McCutchen had three hits, all for extra bases. Josh Harrison smacked another home run. Right-hander Edinson Volquez was steady. Relievers Justin Wilson, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon combined for three hitless innings.
“We're in a better place than we've been all year,” Hurdle said. “The lineup is together. The starting pitchers are making some adjustments. The bullpen is solid. The position players are playing well.”
No one was better Sunday than McCutchen, who always seems to find a way to produce on the big stage. The seven talking heads ESPN stationed around the ballpark wanted to talk all night about Dodgers spark plug Yasiel Puig, but McCutchen stole the show.
“It's just good, regardless of whether it's on national TV or not,” McCutchen said. “It's good that we're able to get three out of four against a really good team. It's a step in the right direction. Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going into San Diego.”
A series win against the Padres would give the Pirates plenty of push heading into a weekend showdown against the first-place Brewers at PNC Park. Plus, there is the very real possibility top prospect Gregory Polanco will make his Pirates debut during that seven-game homestand.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- Ex-Pirate Parker fights against Parkinson’s with optimistic attitude