The top of the eighth inning Monday night was terrible for the Dodgers, but the bottom of the inning was much worse, as the Pirates rallied for three runs with three consecutive ringing doubles to grab a 4-1 win in the series opener at PNC Park. After a walk and a double allowed by Chad Billingsley gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead, the pitcher that used to be Hong-Chih Kuo came in and allowed two more doubles to the two batters he faced to bring home two more runs.
Juan Uribe came into the game with no hits in his last 14 at-bats, with seven strikeouts, since getting hit on the left hand last Wednesday by Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs. "I don't worry about him. I really think he's going to hit," manager Don Mattingly told reporters before Monday's game. "He seems a little out of sync. Sometimes a change of scenery in a new series can change what's going on." Uribe rewarded that faith with an RBI single in the first inning, delivering the Dodgers' first run of the game.
Uribe also had a single in the top of the eighth inning, that would have put runners on first and third base with nobody out in a 1-1 tie, only third base umpire Mike DiMuro ruled that left fielder Jose Tabata caught the ball, even though television replays clearly showed the ball bounce before landing in Tabata's glove. Matt Kemp, who rounded second base on the would-be single, was easily doubled off first base to kill the rally. Mattingly argued to no avail, but then after the inning ended Uribe was ejected as for arguing with DiMuro as he took his position at third base, then Mattingly argued some more and was ejected himself.
As bad as the call was in the top of the eighth inning, the Dodgers also put themselves in that position by managing just one run off Jeff Karstens and four Bucs' relievers. It's hard to win games with one run, or the 2.54 runs per game the club has scored in their last 13 games. The Dodgers are 4-9 in those last 13 games.
Chad Billingsley allowed one run through seven innings, but only threw 94 pitches so he was sent out to start the fateful eighth inning. Billingsley has a 2.36 ERA in his last five starts, averaging 6.87 innings per outing, yet has just one win to show for it.
- Kuo has allowed seven of 14 batters faced to reach base since returning from the DL
- Billingsley had two hits on the night, including a double. It was his first two-hit game since July 5, 2009
- Billingsley's double was the only extra-base hit for the Dodgers tonight. The last time a Dodgers' pitcher had the team's only extra-base hit(s) was on August 7, 2007, when Mark Hendrickson doubled at Cincinnati.
- The final two innings had an Old Friend feel, as Joe Beimel retired Aaron Miles and Andre Ethier in the top of the eighth, pinch runner Xavier Paul scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning, then Joel Hanrahan converted his 11th save in as many opportunities.
- Flashing the leather: Andrew McCutchen made two nice catches on would-be 400-foot extra-base hits, one each by Kemp and Andre Ethier. Also, to end the game, Pedro Alvarez made a diving stop at third base to rob Aaron Miles of a potential double.
- The Dodgers have lost six of their last eight games at PNC Park, dating back to 2009
- Ted Lilly and Kevin Correia go at it in the second game of the series, Tuesday night.
WP - Jose Veras (1-1): 3 up, 3 down
LP - Chad Billingsley (2-2): 7+ IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Joel Hanrahan (11): 1 IP, 1 hit