The Dodgers expect better offensive production with Hanley Ramirez and A.J. Ellis back; but Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke had other plans. Locke guided Pittsburgh to the 3-0 victory by tossing seven scoreless innings.
Locke was in cruise control, and didn't even allow anyone to reach second base. The inpatient hitting approach by the boys in blue helped Locke thrive. Therefore, Locke tossed 75 pitches on the night, and was surprisingly pinch-hit for in the bottom of the seventh. Coming into Saturday's start, Locke hadn't gone six innings or more in his past three straight starts.
Stephen Fife battled through numerous jams, allowing three straight leadoff hitters to single from the second to fourth inning. Fife tallied 93 pitches through a mere five innings of work. Despite the brief outing, Fife limited the damage by only allowing two runs.
Neither Hanley Ramirez or A.J. Ellis recorded a hit in their returns (0-7 combined), but both impacted the game defensively. Ramirez made a tough heads up play by throwing McCutchen out at home. Meanwhile, Ellis gunned out the speedy Alex Presley trying to steal. On the year, Ellis is now 13-26 (50%) at throwing runners out, which is the best rate among all catchers in the MLB.
Offensively, Andrew McCutchen's two-run double in the third inning were all the runs Pittsburgh needed. Neil Walker added an insurance run via a rare sacrifice fly to the first baseman, extending the lead to 3-0.
The Dodgers had two opportunities, yet Juan Uribe ended the eighth inning by striking out and stranding runners on second and third. In the final frame, Yasiel Puig and Nick Punto reached base consecutively to start the rally. However, the heart of the lineup failed to deliver. Adrian Gonzalez, Ramirez and Mark Ellis sat down in order to end the game.
Pirates closer Jason Grilli remains perfect on the season, earning his 24th save in 24 chances.
The Dodgers square off with the Pirates for game two of the series Saturday. Clayton Kershaw gets the nod for Don Mattingly, while Brandon Cumpton makes his MLB debut for Pittsburgh.
Home runs: None
WP - Jeff Locke (6-1): 7 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk
LP - Stephen Fife (1-2): 5 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 4 strikeouts, 3 walks
Sv - Jason Grilli (24): 1 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 strikeout