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Andrew McCutchen home runs send Dodgers to 2nd straight loss

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Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Andrew McCutchen is having by far the worst of his eight major league seasons in 2016, but good luck convincing Kenta Maeda and the Dodgers. McCutchen launched two home runs, and keyed a five-run sixth inning that were more than enough to put away the Dodgers 6-1 on Saturday, the second win in as many games in this weekend series for the Pirates.

McCutchen first hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, the first hit by either team, that gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in a game that was a pitcher's duel early.

Jeff Locke entered Saturday 46th among 51 qualified National League pitchers with a 1.427 WHIP, and 45th with a .342 on-base percentage allowed. But the Dodgers couldn't generate a thing against him in the first five innings, with Locke retiring his first 15 batters faced.

Back-to-back doubles by Scott Van Slyke and A.J. Ellis to start the sixth inning not only gave the Dodgers their first baserunners, but also their first run. But any thoughts of a big inning were thwarted win Ellis drifted too far off second base anticipating a sacrifice bunt and was picked off by catcher Erik Kratz.

Maeda entered the sixth inning with just two hits and one walk allowed, entrenched in a 1-1 tie, a much needed performance by a Dodgers team desperate for innings from their starting pitchers who aren't Clayton Kershaw. But things went south in a hurry.

John Jaso walked to open the inning, then Starling Marte grounded a ball through the hole at second base to put two runners on for McCutchen, who entered Saturday hitting just .239/.317/.400 on the season. But the Pirates center fielder, winner of the 2013 National League MVP with three other top-five MVP finishes in the last four seasons, took advantage of a fastball that caught too much of the plate, launching it over the wall in left center field for a three-run shot and a 4-1 Pittsburgh lead.

That abruptly ended what was shaping up to be a promising start for Maeda, but instead turned into a five-inning outing, right at the average in June for non-Kershaw Dodgers starters.

The first two times through the batting order, Maeda held the Pirates to 2-for-17 with a home run and a walk.

The third time through lasted all of three batters in the sixth inning, with Pittsburgh 2-for-2 with a home run and a walk. On the season, batters are hitting .347/.382/.514 against Maeda during his third time through the order.

Joe Blanton followed Maeda in the sixth inning and allowed a two-run home run to Jordy Mercer to complete the five-run blow-up inning, then took out his anger on a Gatorade cooler in the Dodgers dugout.

The Dodgers threatened with runners on second and third base in the seventh inning against Locke, then again against reliever Tony Watson in the eighth. But all four runners were stranded, keeping the Dodgers from rejoining the competitive phases of Saturday's contest.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Andrew McCutchen 2 (12), Jordy Mercer (4)

WP - Jeff Locke (7-5): 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 3 strikeouts

LP - Kenta Maeda (6-5): 5+ IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts