Tuesday, April 10, 2012

LA Wins Bullpen Battle 2-1

Well, the Pirates continued their tour of the NL's pitching elite this afternoon, and again their starter - in this case, Kevin Correia - fought an ace, today Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, to a draw and left the game to the bullpen.

But unlike the weekend, the Buc relievers blinked before the opponents did, and the Pirates went down 2-1 to the Dodgers. The Tinseltown home opener was played before 56,000 fans who were celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Dodger Stadium.

Correia went six innings and allowed a run on four hits and a pair of walks with three Ks while spinning 81 pitches. The only run he surrendered was in the first, when the Blue manufactured a score. Dee Gordon led off with a single, stole second, and two ground balls brought him home.

The only other jam he had was during the second, when a nifty backhand stop by Neil Walker bailed Correia out of a first-and-third, two out threat.

And that's how the game stayed through six. The Pirates finally got to Kershaw in the seventh. Alex Presley beat out a ball to second, and Cutch rolled one into left to set up runners at first and second. Casey McGehee flew out deep to right, and the aggressive Presley and McCutchen each moved up a base after the catch. Matt Hague, starting today, hit a chopper to the shortstop hole to tie the game.

That was the last frame for Kershaw, and he was tough. He went seven, giving up a run on four hits with seven strikeouts. Juan Cruz put down LA in the seventh. leaving runners at first and third by catching Gordon looking at a backdoor slider to prevent any damage. Kenley Jansen did the honors for the Dodgers in the eighth, striking out a pair.

Jason Grilli looked like he would keep the zeroes coming too, retiring the first pair of LA batters, including an impressive K of Matt Kemp. But he threw a 2-1 slider to Andre Ethier, and it was a beaut, breaking knee high on the inside half of the plate. Unfortunately, that's also just about every lefty on the planet's sweet spot, and Ethier celebrated his 30th birthday by dropping it four rows deep into the right field stands.

The Bucs got a one-out knock off Javy Guerra from Presley in the ninth, but a 6-4-3 by Cutch (his third DP of the young season) ended the afternoon for Pittsburgh.

The game may have been decided in the second frame, when Casey McGehee led off with a sun-aided triple. Kershaw reached back and K'ed Hague and Walker swinging, closing out the inning with a Rod Barajas liner to left. He would allow just one more hit, a single by Correia, until the seventh.

Erik Bedard will take on Chad Billingsley tomorrow night. In his last outing against the Padres, Billingsley tossed 8-1/3 frames of three hit, shutout ball, striking out 11. The beat goes on.

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