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Brandon McCarthy faces the Pirates looking to regain his control

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Brandon McCarthy has had a frustrating past two weeks trying to figure out just where his command of the baseball coming out of his hand has gone. There weren't many answers offered up after Sunday's outing that saw McCarthy pitch his third straight outing of four innings or less.

McCarthy outlined his frustration to media after his last outing:

"I can’t feel what’s happening and I don’t know what the hell this is," he said. "I’ve never had it before. Curveball feels very normal. … The four-seamer is just kind of a disappearing mess. I don’t know what that is but I have to figure it out soon."

The control problems have led to five walks in each of the right-hander's last two starts with only two strikeouts. McCarthy will take the mound Saturday trying to avoid a short list of Dodgers to walk at least five batters in three straight starts.

A total of 14 Dodgers have accomplished that feat while only three have come since Sandy Koufax did it in 1958. Fernando Valenzuela in 1987, Ramon Martinez in 1998 and four straight from Kazuhisa Ishii in 2004.

McCarthy has topped out at 85 pitches this season and will look to go at least five innings for the first time since July 22. In three starts since then, McCarthy has lasted a total of 10 2/3 innings while allowing seven earned runs, walking 12 with nine strikeouts.

On the mound for the Pirates is Gerrit Cole, returning to Southern California where he grew up. Cole went to Orange Lutheran High School and attended UCLA before being drafted by Pittsburgh.

Cole has faced the Dodgers four times in his career and has yet to lose with a record of 3-0 with a 4.32 ERA. The right-hander has allowed exactly three runs in all four career starts against the Dodgers.

Since coming off the disabled list on July 16, Cole has gone 2-3 with a 3.34 ERA giving up four runs in two of the five starts.

The Pirates have proven to be tough customers for the Dodgers in recent years, taking 14 of the last 18 games between the clubs and six of eight at Dodger Stadium.