PITTSBURGH -- After 11 back-and-forth innings, Yasiel Puig hammered the second pitch thrown in the 12th inning, watched it fly and flipped his bat into foul territory. Puig's shot -- projected to travel 412 feet by Statcast™ -- off reliever Dovydas Neverauskas landed in the bullpens beyond the center-field fence and sent the Dodgers to a 6-5 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Puig said. "I was waiting on the fastball, that's his best pitch and the one I struggle with. But I put a good swing on it."
The Dodgers had a chance to break the tie in the 10th against Pirates reliever Joaquin Benoit, who walked the bases loaded. Benoit threw 25 pitches, only 11 for strikes, but he escaped without allowing a run as Chris Taylor flied out to left. With the Bucs all but out of relief options, Benoit returned to pitch a scoreless 11th. In all, the 40-year-old right-hander threw 38 pitches, his highest total since April 2012. The Bucs then turned the game over to the rookie Neverauskas, who pitched on three consecutive days for the first time in his professional career, and had right-hander Jameson Taillon, Tuesday's starter, begin warming up in the bullpen.
"That was the second-to-last thing I wanted to try to put into play tonight," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of using Neverauskas. "The next one would have been the guy you saw warming up in the 12th inning."
Down by two runs after Curtis Granderson crushed a go-ahead grand slam off Gerrit Cole in the seventh, the Pirates' tying rally began against former Bucs closer Tony Watson, who was dealt to the Dodgers on July 31. Watson plunked Adam Frazier, then Josh Harrison slapped an RBI double to left field against right-hander Pedro Baez. Andrew McCutchen and David Freese walked to load the bases, and pinch-hitter Josh Bell tied the game with a run-scoring grounder to second base after a nine-pitch at-bat.
"It's an impressive at-bat. The battle, fouling pitches off, staying in the fight," Hurdle said of Bell. "To get the run in and tie the game, yeah, he continues to show us a lot of good substance in the batter's box."
The Dodgers improved to 88-35, bumping their National League West lead to 20 1/2 games. The Pirates, meanwhile, fell seven games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs.
The Pirates ran out of position players in the 10th inning, so starter Chad Kuhl had to pinch-hit for Neverauskas to lead off the 12th. Right-hander Thomas Stripling retired Kuhl and worked around an Andrew McCutchen single to secure the victory.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Back to back: The Pirates entered the series opener with the Majors' second-lowest home run total. Dodgers lefty Alex Wood took the mound as one of baseball's best when it comes to keeping the ball in the park. So, naturally, the Bucs built a three-run lead by bashing a trio of homers in Wood's first three innings. Jose Osuna and Sean Rodriguez went back-to-back in the second inning -- the fourth time the Pirates have done so this season -- and Harrison blasted a solo shot to center in the third. After the game, Wood said the sternum issue that put him on the disabled list earlier in the season flared up and he probably will skip his next start.
"We've talked about things being contagious. Hopefully this is another thing that's become contagious for us," Hurdle said. "Josh, he's [flexing his muscles] in the second half of the season. Osuna, that's his first one off a left-hander. Rodriguez, we've seen him be able to do that before. They're welcome sights."
Grandy slam: With one out and Cole's pitch count over 100 in the seventh inning, Granderson stepped to the plate for the fourth time. Cole hung a 2-1 slider, and Granderson sent it a projected 404 feet to center field, according to Statcast™, for his second grand slam in less than a week -- and the first one Cole has allowed in his career. Granderson also hit one Thursday in his final game for the Mets. Acquired Friday and playing only his third game for the Dodgers, Granderson ended Cole's night and gave the Dodgers a short-lived two-run lead.
"We had success with him in the previous at-bat," Cole said. "In hindsight, probably should have challenged him. I'm trying to create a ground ball there with the slider."
"It's tough, but we did a good job. I just got got in the seventh."-- Cole, on giving up five runs after pitching six scoreless innings
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers' Magic Number to clinch the National League West is 19.
Dodgers: Right-hander Brock Stewart will be promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start at 4:05 p.m. PT on Tuesday against the Pirates at PNC Park. Stewart, filling in for the injured Yu Darvish, has made two starts for the Dodgers this season and lasted a combined 7 2/3 innings. Cody Bellinger (sprained right ankle) is not expected to start.
Pirates: Taillon will start for the Pirates on Tuesday as they host the Dodgers at 7:05 p.m. ET. Taillon felt his stuff was better than his results as he allowed four runs over five innings on Thursday against the Cardinals, and that feeling is supported by Taillon's 22 strikeouts over his last three outings.
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