Dodgers trump Pirates, 5-3, in 11 innings
Musician John Popper of Blues Traveler played the national anthem on his harmonica Saturday and drew a roar from the sellout crowd at PNC Park.
A minute later, rookie Brandon Cumpton took the mound for the Pirates to a ripple of polite applause. But it didn't take long for Cumpton to command everyone's attention.
In his first big league start, Cumpton struck out five of the first six Los Angeles Dodgers batters he faced. The 24-year-old right-hander did not allow a hit until the fourth inning.
The crowd quickly warmed to Cumpton, who seemed at ease on the big stage. He did not figure in the decision, though, as the Dodgers scored two runs in the 11th inning to pull out a 5-3 victory.
“I definitely had a lot of nerves (warming up) in the bullpen,” Cumpton admitted. “Once I threw strike one, that helped me settle things down a little bit.”
Squaring off against Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, Cumpton worked into the sixth inning and allowed three runs on seven hits.
“Our boy matched (Kershaw) for five innings and gave it everything he had,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “A really professional job.”
The Dodgers' bullpen yielded single runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Travis Snider tied it, 3-3, with a solo homer off right-hander Kenley Jansen. It was the first run Jansen allowed in his past 12 outings and his second blown save in five chances.
“An elevated fastball,” Snider said. “I've been working on getting ready on time and being ready to hit those pitches when they make mistakes up over the plate.”
Andre Ethier began the 11th with a double off Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro (3-1). Mark Ellis sacrificed Ethier to third base.
Juan Uribe lined an RBI single over the head of drawn-in third baseman Pedro Alvarez. With two outs, pinch hitter Nick Punto hit a run-scoring double to center.
Cumpton was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis to replace right-hander A.J. Burnett, who's on the disabled list with a strained right calf. On Saturday morning, struggling reliever Mike Zagurski was designated for assignment to clear space for Cumpton on the 40-man and active rosters.
It was the third debut this week by a Pirates pitcher. On Tuesday, Gerrit Cole tossed his first game. On Thursday, Charlie Morton made his first start since having Tommy John surgery.
“This is another graduation day for us,” Hurdle said. “It's exciting when you can write a first-time player's name in the lineup. I get gassed up over these opportunities.”
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Alex Presley doubled and went to third on Jordy Mercer's sacrifice bunt. Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez walked.
Russell Martin hit a grounder to shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who stepped on second to force Sanchez. Ramirez's throw to first was wild. Martin was safe on a fielder's choice, and Presley scored.
Cumpton didn't give up a hit until Yaisel Puig singled to lead off the fourth inning. In the fifth, A.J. Ellis singled and scored on Skip Schumaker's two-out single to right.
Adrian Gonzalez began the top of the sixth with a double. Ramirez singled. Ethier singled, scoring Gonzalez to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. When left fielder Presley let the ball roll past him, Ramirez went to third and Ethier to second.
Bryan Morris relieved Cumpton. Mark Ellis hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Ramirez to make it 3-1.
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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