The Dodgers fell behind early on Friday night and never recovered, dropping their series opener to the Pirates 5-1 at Dodger Stadium. Pittsburgh has beaten LA in four of their five meetings this season.
The rally for Pittsburgh in the first inning seemed to consist of several balls hit to Corey Seager that weren’t converted into as many outs as they should have been. The inning produced four singles, two of the infield variety, and a potential double play ball that instead became a force out and another run, the third of the inning.
The Dodgers hit the ball relatively hard against Ivan Nova, including three doubles among their nine hits against him, but could produce just one run. The stellar Pirates outfield caught seven of Nova’s 16 outs recorded.
Ross Stripling got another spot start opportunity with Rich Hill and his blistery left hand still unavailable, and after the first-inning hiccup pitched relatively well.
He allowed solo home runs to Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer, but also retired all 11 batters in between. What began as a fill-in to help the starting staff became, thanks to Stripling’s efficiency, an outing that helped save the bullpen as well.
Stripling threw just 92 pitches in completing seven innings, just the third Dodgers pitcher to last seven innings in their last 42 games, and the first since Scott Kazmir on July 19.
Jesse Chavez pitched the final two innings in another act of bullpen preservation.
The Dodgers will turn to Brandon McCarthy on Saturday afternoon, a 1:05 p.m. PT start on both SportsNet LA and MLB Network. Gerrit Cole starts for the Pirates in the middle game of the series.
Home runs: Andrew McCutchen (16), Jordy Mercer (7)
WP - Ivan Nova (9-6): 5⅓ IP, 9 hits, 1 run, 2 strikeouts
LP - Ross Stripling (3-4): 7 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Tony Watson (5): 1 up, 1 down