Dodgers hammer Cumpton, Pirates, 12-2
LOS ANGELES - For most of his still-young big league career, Pirates right-hander Brandon Cumpton has breezed through the early innings of games.
He didn't follow that script Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cumpton gave up two runs in the first inning. An error by left fielder Starling Marte opened the door for four more runs in the third. The Dodgers piled on six more runs in the fourth.
Before the late-afternoon shadows were halfway across the infield, Cumpton was out of the game.
The Dodgers steamed to a 12-2 victory, the Pirates' worst drubbing of the year.
Cumpton (0-2) faced 25 batters in 3 2⁄3 innings. He yielded 11 runs (10 earned), 11 hits and two walks.
"I was up, flat, falling behind guys," Cumpton said. "It's discouraging, but it's one start. I've been beat around before, and I'm sure it's going to happen again. I'm not going to hang my head over it."
The huge early deficit was a stunner. Cumpton had opened with at least four straight scoreless innings in seven of his first eight starts in the majors.
"He's got stuff to be efficient and get deeper into games, but so far it's been a little bit of a challenge for him," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "Sometimes, guys have success getting through the lineup one way, and they think they have to change when they have some struggles. Brandon's three pitches are going to play at any point in any game. It's a matter of him remaining confident and attacking hitters."
The Pirates believe throwing his changeup more often,especially in the early innings, will help Cumpton pitch deeper into games.
"Like most successful pitchers, all three pitches should be in play in the first three innings," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Cumpton threw a pair of changeups in the first inning, and both were outside the strike zone. Many of the 26 other pitches - sinkers and sliders - he offered in the inning also were erratic.
Andre Ethier took Cumpton's first changeup for a ball and wound up walking. With two outs, Hanley Ramirez lined a run-scoring single to center. Adrian Gonzalez walked. Matt Kemp hit an RBI single.
"When I made my pitch, they found a hole," Cumpton said. "When I didn't make my pitch, they found a gap. I couldn't get a break."
Ethier led off the third with a fly ball to deep left field. Marte snagged the ball near the top of his glove's webbing and never got it under control. When he bumped into the outfield wall, the ball plopped onto the turf for a two-base error.
Yasiel Puig singled. Ramirez bounced a single to left to make it 3-0. Gonzalez lashed a run-scoring double.
Kemp's fly ball to medium-depth right field scored Ramirez. Gonzalez caught the Pirates by surprise by tagging and going to third. Justin Turner's single through a drawn-in infield gave the Dodgers a 6-0 lead.
"This game will grab you," Hurdle said. "It grabbed (Cumpton) today. A hard day for him."
Hyun-jin Ryu (6-2) was the second left-handed starter the Pirates had faced in five days, but only the sixth they'd seen all season. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates have taken on lefties only 37 times since the start of the 2013 season, by far the lowest number in the majors.
In the fourth, Jose Tabata reached on an infield single and Jordy Mercer tripled into the left field corner.
The Dodgers kept coming. Their fourth inning included triples by speedster Dee Gordon (no surprise) and catcher Drew Butera (no one saw that coming) and Ramirez's two-run homer.
Ramirez homered again, his ninth, leading off the sixth.