Hyun-jin Ryu continued his renaissance, and the Dodgers offense slowly but surely eventually backed up him up, leaving Pittsburgh with a 5-2 victory over the Pirates on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park.
With the victory, the Dodgers reached 90 wins earlier than they ever have in franchise history.
Ryu held the Bucs at bay over his six innings, allowing just one run on four singles and a pair of walks. Over his last nine starts, dating back to June 17, Ryu has a 2.13 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 17 walks in 50 innings.
In August, Ryu has a 1.57 ERA in four starts, and in his last five starts the left-hander has allowed four total runs.
One night after failing to score in 10 innings, the Dodgers threatened early and often against Pirates starter Chad Kuhl. They loaded the bases in the first, and though they didn’t score, Kuhl did throw 29 pitches.
In the second inning, 32 more pitches led to a run, and made for a short day for the right-hander. Kuhl lasted just four innings, throwing 92 pitches in the process, and left trailing 2-1 thanks to a solo home run by Curtis Granderson, his third in six games with the Dodgers.
Kuhl walked five batters in his outing, the 22nd time an opposing starting pitcher lasted four or fewer innings against the Dodgers this season. The Dodgers are 21-1 in those games.
Kuhl exiting early allowed the Dodgers to get into the Pirates bullpen, where they continued to threaten but still had trouble cashing in their chips.
The Dodgers left 11 runners on base in 10 innings on Wednesday night. On Thursday, they reached that number in six innings, and left a total of 15 runners on base for the game. The bases were left loaded in the first, sixth, and seventh innings, with a total of one run scored in those frames.
After nearly two days of picking away like Andy Dufresne with a rock hammer, the Dodgers were finally able to create some distance from the Pirates with back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning by Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez, for Gonzalez his first home run since returning from the disabled list.
The Pirates threatened in the seventh inning, scoring a run to pull within 3-2, and had two runners on with two outs. Pedro Baez, who walked three in a forgettable outing on Monday, entered in relief and struck out Andrew McCutchen to end the threat.
Then again, with the lead upped to three runs, Baez was back out for the eighth inning and sure enough walked David Freese and hit Sean Rodriguez with a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. But that was just to make things interesting, as Baez struck out Edwin Diaz and got Jordy Mercer to ground out to end the frame.
Chris Taylor singled twice, doubled and walked on Thursday, delivering his third three-hit game during the seven-game road trip. In Detroit and Pittsburgh, Taylor was 12-for-27 (.444) with four doubles and six RBI in six games played.
Taylor leads the Dodgers with 31 doubles, and has 24 extra-base hits in 35 games since the All-Star break. The only player in MLB with more extra-base hits since the break is Giancarlo Stanton — who hit his 47th home run of the season on Thursday for the Marlins -- with 29.
Power & speed
For good measure, Taylor also stole his 15th base of the season in the ... inning. Coupled with his 17 home runs, Taylor is the first Dodger with 15 home runs and 15 steals in a season since Matt Kemp hit 39 homers and stole 40 bases in 2011.
Yasiel Puig, who was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk on Thursday and reached base 14 times in 31 plate appearances (a .452 on-base percentage) on the road trip, has 12 steals to go with his 22 home runs on the season. The Dodgers haven’t had two 15/15 players in the same season since Raul Mondesi and Adrian Beltre in 1999.
Last season, Kenley Jansen was the only Dodgers pitcher to record a (regular season) save. But Jansen got a second straight day off on Thursday, after pitching four times in five days for the second time this season (he also did so July 4-8), including each of the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh.
Dave Roberts said on Tuesday that Kenley Jansen would get a couple days off. Brandon Morrow to close in the ninth.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) August 24, 2017
Jansen just getting a few days off after pitching four of five days. He has been in the dugout the last two games.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) August 24, 2017
Brandon Morrow closed out the win in the ninth inning, the eighth different Dodger to record a save in 2017. That’s the most for the franchise since nine different pitchers notched saves in 1991.
The Dodgers on Thursday won their 40th consecutive game when scoring four or more runs., the third-longest streak in baseball history. Los Angeles is 75-7 (.915) when scoring four or more runs in 2017.
The Dodgers head home for a weekend series against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. Friday’s opener will see Kenta Maeda, who already flew home, start the 7:10 p.m. PT game, facing Chase Anderson for Milwaukee.
Home runs: Curtis Granderson (22), Yasmani Grandal (18), Adrian Gonzalez (2)
WP - Hyun-jin Ryu (5-6): 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
LP - Chad Kuhl (6-9): 4 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Brandon Morrow (1): 1 IP, 1 strikeout