Clayton Kershaw wasn't at his best, and the suddenly surging Pirates took advantage. For a team that couldn't get out of its own way for the last four weeks, dropping 20 of 26 games, Pittsburgh is nigh unbeatable this weekend, winning their third straight over the Dodgers, this one a 4-3 victory on Sunday night at PNC Park.
Chad Kuhl, making his major league debut, had nothing to lose in a matchup against the game's best pitcher, though his biggest contribution might have been at the plate.
After two singles and a walk - yes, a walk - to load the bases with one out, Kuhl had a first major league plate appearance to remember. He fouled off pitch after pitch, five in all, and though he struck out Kuhl saw a total of eight pitches in the at-bat. Kershaw then allowed a line drive single to left field by Adam Frazier for one run, then David Freese hit a gapper to right center for a three-run double and a 4-0 lead.
It was just the second multi-run inning against Kershaw all season, and the first since April 26.
The Dodgers answered back by deploying their best offensive weapons in June, getting a double from Corey Seager and a home run by Justin Turner in the third inning to cut the deficit in half.
Two innings later Seager walked then Turner hit an opposite field shot off the high right field wall for an RBI double, pulling the Dodgers to within 4-3.
Kershaw settled down after those early runs, but the 30-pitch second inning took its toll. He had to snuff out another rally in the sixth inning, one that included a couple of rarities. For one, Starling Marte was thrown out trying to steal a base, the first attempt this season against Kershaw and the first non-pickoff steal attempt against him since Sept. 2, 2015, 22 starts ago.
For another thing, Dave Roberts had Kershaw walk Sean Rodriguez intentionally to bring up the pitcher's spot with two outs the sixth. Rodriguez also walked earlier, the first time Kershaw walked two in one start since Sept. 19, 2015, 19 starts ago.
On the season, Kershaw has 145 strikeouts and nine walks.
Kuhl was done after five innings, allowing his three runs, but the Dodgers were completely shut down by the Pittsburgh pen. Pirates relievers retired all 12 Dodgers they faced to end the game.
Outside of Seager and Turner, the rest of the Dodgers combined for one single and two walks. Not good enough. Again.
Breakfast and baseball awaits, on Monday morning at 9:35 a.m. PT! The Dodgers send Scott Kazmir to the mound on getaway day, with fellow southpaw Francisco Liriano getting the call for Pittsburgh.
Home run: Justin Turner (11)
WP - Chad Kuhl (1-0): 5 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
LP - Clayton Kershaw (11-2): 6 IP, 9 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Mark Melancon (22): 1 IP, 1 strikeout