Dodger Stadium continued to be a ravine of terror for the Pirates, but Sunday provided a fresh face to engineer the 6-2 L.A. victory and a weekend sweep.
Adrian Gonzalez started to earn the $127 million he will collect the next six seasons after arriving from Boston last August. The first baseman went 3-for-4 with four RBI to complete his destruction of Pirates pitching (7-for-11, 2 doubles, 5 RBI). Gonzalez and the top half of the Dodgers lineup afflicted most the damage on Locke, as L.A.’s first five hitters went 8-for-13 against the Pittsburgh starter, compared to 0-for-9 for the bottom hitters.
The Pirates broke free from 18 scoreless innings right away. Andrew McCutchen blasted Pittsburgh’s first home run in 2013, a two-run blast into the fifth row of the left field pavilion, with Starling Marte on base.
The Dodgers responded immediately. Nick Punto, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez struck back with three straight hits, the one from Gonzalez a 2-RBI single that just dribbled underneath a diving Neil Walker tied the score.
Small ball gave L.A. the lead in the third inning. Carl Crawford hit a leadoff double to the left field wall, was bunted over by Punto and scored on a Kemp sacrifice fly to deep right field.
The Dodgers extended their lead to 4-2 in the fifth. Crawford and Punto started the inning with back-to-back singles. Crawford got to third on a double play, then scored on a Gonzalez single to left-center. Starling Marte grabbed it, turned and gunned down Gonzalez with a smooth throw to second to limit the damage.
Jeff Locke pitched six innings in his season debut, getting knocked around a bit for eight hits and four runs, while racking up only three strikeouts. He was yet another victim to the Pirates’ struggles in Los Angeles, where they are 7-31 in their last 38 games.
Chris Leroux entered for Locke and quickly showed why he was the last player on the Pirates Opening Day roster to make an appearance. First batter Justin Sellers broke his early slump by homering a fastball into the left-field stands. After back-to-back walks from Leroux, Gonzalez collected his fourth RBI with a line-drive single to make it 6-2.
L.A. starter Hyun-Jin Ryu kept the Pirates from getting any runners into scoring position after the first inning. The Korean lefty ending up with six strikeouts and only three hits allowed in 6.1 innings for the first win of his MLB career. Ronald Belisario, Matt Guerrier and J.P. Howell combined to keep the Bucs scoreless and close out the Dodgers’ seventh-straight win against the Pirates.