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Pirates falter in attempt to sweep Dodgers at PNC Park

Baseball can be a weird and random sport.

Take the Pirates’ success against Los Angeles in recent years. The Dodgers have become the Yankees of the West thanks to their seemingly limitless financial resources, yet, Pittsburgh had won 10 of the previous 15 games between the two squads before Thursday night’s series finale at PNC Park.

The Pirates had won the first two games of the three-game series–including a 1-0 victory on Tuesday and a 10-6 triumph on Paul Skenes Night on Wednesday. Unlike the 2022 season when Pittsburgh, a 100-loss team, managed to win five of six over the Dodgers, a 111-win team–including all three at Los Angeles–a sweep in 2024 would seem less random and perhaps more indicative of where the young Buccos were headed as an organization.

Unfortunately, the law of averages caught up to the Pirates on Thursday night, as Los Angeles managed to salvage the final game of the series and won going away by a score of 11-7.

Bailey Falter, the super-dependable lefty who came over to the Pirates in a trade with Philadelphia last August, took the mound on Thursday and quickly found himself in trouble. Mookie Betts led off the top of the first inning with a single, and Shohei Ohtani followed with one of his own. First baseman Freddie Freeman then stepped to the plate and blasted a three-run homer to right field to make it 3-0, visitors. The Dodgers added another run before the inning was over to make it 4-0.

Pittsburgh got on the board with a run in the bottom of the second inning. In the third, after Ke’Bryan Hayes scored on a sacrifice fly by Edward Olivares to close the gap to 4-2, the red-hot Nick Gonzales stepped to the plate and cracked a two-run homer to left field to close the gap all the way. Gonzales now has 22 RBI in 24 games since being called up from the minors in May.

But just when it looked like the Pirates might pull off the sweep, Los Angeles exploded for six runs in the top of the fifth inning. Teoscar Hernandez led off the frame with a home run which prompted Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton to remove Falter from the game. Unfortunately, his replacement, Ben Heller, offered no relief. Instead, he hit the first batter he saw before allowing a single and double which scored the Dodgers’ sixth run. After a throwing error by catcher Henry Davis brought home a seventh run, Betts hammered a three-run home run to center field to effectively put the game away.

Los Angeles added another run in the top of the sixth to make it 11-4.

Oneil Cruz made things a little closer in the bottom of the eighth when he launched a 462-foot blast into the Allegheny River to make it 11-7, them, but that was the end of the scoring for the good guys.

The loss drops Pittsburgh to 29-33 and into last place in the National League Central Division. The good news is the Pirates are only seven games back of first-place Milwaukee and one game out of the third and final wildcard spot.

In other words, there’s still a ton of time left in the 2024 campaign.

Next up, the Twins come to town for a weekend series at PNC Park, with Mitch Keller taking the mound for the home team on Friday night.


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