The Dodgers looked set for a great win in one of the best back-and-forth affairs of the season. But working in his third straight night, Evan Phillips wasn’t able to get the save, and instead, allowed three ninth-inning runs in a 9-7 loss to the Pirates.
The Dodgers' offense was down by multiple runs before it took its first at-bat, but held up its end of the bargain, scoring seven runs and taking three separate leads.
After scoring once in the first inning, the Dodgers added three runs in the second on a two-run home run by James Outman and an absolutely crushed solo homer from Mookie Betts.
The Pirates chased Emmet Sheehan in the top of the fourth, but Outman struck again with his second two-run homer of the night, giving the Dodgers their second lead of the game.
One more time, the home team would surrender the lead, as Gavin Stone allowed a run in his two innings of work, but it set up one of those wholesome moments of the season.
In a 6-6 game in the eighth inning, the Pirates sent out Angel Perdomo against a lefty-heavy part of the order, which gave Dave Roberts to pinch-hit Miguel Vargas for David Peralta, and then Jonny Deluca for Jason Heyward. And after the former got out, something special happened.
Dodgers announcer Joe Davis was discussing Deluca’s prospect profile, and how he has a good bit of pop to his bat, but has yet to homer in the majors. In a casual manner, Davis said, wouldn’t this be the perfect time for his first major league homer? And wouldn’t you know? After working a full count, Deluca crushed a ball for at the time, the go-ahead shot.
First career homer for the lead? Jonny, Bravo. pic.twitter.com/p2ssLFKmXX— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 5, 2023
Although the Dodgers would go on to lose, that’s still going to be a moment that sticks out, at the very least to the young outfielder, with his first career homer.
Pirates drive up Sheehan’s pitch count
It was a somewhat streaky night for the Dodgers’ rookie starter, and at the end of it, the low points got the better of him. The Pirates were able to chase Sheehan before he could complete four innings, ultimately tacking on five runs off him.
The first inning was a precursor of things to come. Sheehan was capable of getting the first two hitters of the game on back-to-back flyouts, but the wheels came off a bit with three straight walks to load the bases before Nick Gonzales put the visiting team on the board with a two-run double.
Sheehan limited the damage in the first by getting Jared Triolo on a strikeout, but even with the two runs, one could argue the bigger damage was in his pitch count. Needing 37 pitches to complete the opening frame, Sheehan threw the most first-inning pitches by a Dodger starter this season.
The Pirates went down quietly in the second and third, but in the fourth, Henry Davis led things off with a mammoth of a solo shot. The bottom of the order would finish Sheehan off before Bryan Reynolds brought in the fifth run of the night, off Caleb Ferguson, as Roberts made the call to the ‘pen with two outs and two on.
Stone thrown to the wolves, barely escaping
No one was affected by Sheehan’s short outing as much as Gavin Stone, who came in to begin the fifth inning after Ferguson got the final out of the fourth.
Across his two innings of work, Stone threw a stressful 50 pitches, almost always working with men on, in what was at the time a one-run game.
Carlos Santana led off the fifth with a groundout, before the next two batters reached base, on a couple of singles, setting up an opportunity for the bottom of the order. However, Stone held the fort, with back-to-back punchouts to end the threat.
In the following inning, the same story. The ninth-hole hitter Austin Hedges led off the frame with a knock, and after a flyout, and single, Henry Davis came in with the chance to tie the game and did just that with a single. A walk to Santana later, the Bucs had the bases loaded with only one out, a laboring Stone, and no one even near getting ready in the bullpen. It was Stone’s inning to finish.
The Dodgers’ highly-touted prospect who has struggled to establish himself in his first cup of tea in the big leagues, particularly in relation to his fellow young arms, was backed into a corner. Stone prevailed, striking out Jack Suwinski and getting Gonzales to keep the score tied.
Third day in a row didn’t work out
Until this Tuesday matchup, Phillips had never pitched on three days in a row, and this is not meant to blame his disappointing outing solely on the fact.
In a save situation, up by one in the ninth, Roberts called his closer onto the game, and the Pirates roughed him up for a three-run spot, to take the lead.
Back-to-back walks to Suwinski and Gonzales set the table for Triolo to tie the game, and Josh Palacios to give Pittsburgh the lead, with a properly spotted two-run double. The Dodgers put the tying runs on base with one out in the bottom of the inning, but could not score.
Home runs: James Outman 2 (11), Mookie Betts (23), Jonny DeLuca (1); Jack Suwinski (18)
WP — David Bednar (3-0): 1⅔ IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
LP — Evan Phillips (1-3): 1 IP, 2 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
This series continues for its third out of four games on Wednesday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network). It’s yet another battle of rookie starters, as Bobby Miller will square off against Osvaldo Bido.