Pittsburgh tops .500 with 4-1 in over Dodgers
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jose Tabata slid, stuck out his glove and popped up as if he knew what he was doing.
With a flick of the wrist, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder threw the ball to second baseman Neil Walker, who then fired to first to double off Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp.
Did Tabata really catch the sinking liner by Juan Uribe that ended up being the turning point in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win on Monday night?
“In the moment, hey, I got it,” Tabata said.
Third base umpire Mike DiMuro agreed, ruling it an out even though replays appeared to show otherwise, all the spark the surging Pirates needed to move above .500 in mid-May for the first time in seven years.
Tabata’s acting and some timely hitting lifted Pittsburgh to its third straight victory.
Uribe and Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly were ejected disputing the call, and the Pirates responded following their departure by scoring three runs in the eighth to move to 18-17 on the season.
It’s not much, but for a club battling to snap a streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons, it’s something to build on.
“We’re going on from here,” said Pittsburgh centerfielder Andrew McCutchen. “We’re just wanting to carry it over.”
Garrett Jones led off the eighth with a walk before Walker laced a shot into the right-field corner off Los Angeles starter Chad Billingsley (2-2). Pinch-runner Xavier Paul scored all the way from first to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Lyle Overbay and Ryan Doumit followed with a pair of run-scoring doubles to make a winner out of Jose Veras (1-1). Joel Hanrahan worked his way out of a little trouble in the ninth to pick up his 11th save.
The Dodgers have lost seven of nine, and lost their cool in the eighth with the score tied at one.
Veras hit Kemp with a 3-2 pitch and the Dodgers appeared to be in business as Uribe’s liner tailed away from Tabata. Though Mattingly came out to argue after DiMuro called it a catch, it wasn’t enough for Uribe, who voiced his displeasure with DiMuro when the Dodgers returned to the field.
“I saw the one that everybody else saw,” Uribe said.
DiMuro ejected Uribe, and Mattingly soon followed his third baseman to the clubhouse.
“From our dugout, the guys saw it bounce and that was it,” Mattingly said. “At that point, you want to get the call right.”
The turn of good fortune seemed to energize the Pirates and disrupt Billingsley’s rhythm. He had little trouble the first seven innings but ran out of steam shortly after Uribe’s eruption.
Jones led off with a walk and Walker followed with his double and the Pirates didn’t let up. Overbay and Doumit – whose three-run homer in the eighth against the Astros on Sunday brought the team back to .500 – smacked a pair of big hits to give Pittsburgh all the breathing room it would need.
“We’re not hitting but we’re getting timely hitting,” Overbay said. “I would like to see us do it with more consistency.”
Doumit went 3 for 4 while Jones added two hits for the Pirates.
Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings, striking out two and walking two. He ran into trouble in the sixth after a walk and a single put two on.
Mike Crotta came on in relief needed just one pitch to get Jerry Sands to hit a harmless grounder to second. He needed to be rescued himself an inning later after consecutive singles by Billingsley and Jamey Carroll with one out.
Joe Beimel, a former Dodger, retired Aaron Miles on a fielders’ choice then got Andre Ethier to hit a harmless fly to center.
Billingsley entered the game 4-0 in his career against the Pirates but got little help from an offense that has struggled this season.
The Dodgers had 10 hits but just one extra-base hit, a double by Billingsley in the second. They left 10 runners on base and were doubled up twice off first after flyballs to the outfield.
“We made some great defensive plays,” said Walker, who served as the cutoff man on both plays.
Billingsley was charged with three runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Manager Clint Hurdle has done his best to downplay his team’s modest start, calling the .500 mark just another milepost on getting the Pirates where they want to go.
Overbay agreed. It’s still May. The season has yet to be defined.
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” Overbay said. “I don’t think we’re where we need to be anyway. We haven’t hit nearly as good as we should.”
NOTES: Jones appeared to have his seventh home run of the season when he drilled a Billingsley pitch toward the right-field stands. The ball, however, dropped back onto the field when a fan botched the catch. Jones held up at second after umpire Jim Reynolds ruled spectator interference. The play was held up on further review. … Uribe snapped out of an 0-for-15 slump with an RBI single in the first.