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Taylor sets tone; Dodgers' bullpen outlasts Bucs

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- After both starting pitchers allowed five early runs, the Dodgers' bullpen outlasted the Pirates' and led Los Angeles to an 8-5 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night at PNC Park.

The Dodgers improved to 89-35, lowering their magic number in the National League West to 17. The Pirates lost for the eighth time in their last 10 games, falling eight games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs.

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PITTSBURGH -- After both starting pitchers allowed five early runs, the Dodgers' bullpen outlasted the Pirates' and led Los Angeles to an 8-5 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night at PNC Park.

The Dodgers improved to 89-35, lowering their magic number in the National League West to 17. The Pirates lost for the eighth time in their last 10 games, falling eight games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs.

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Dodgers starter Brock Stewart, called up before the game and battling a cold, gave up five runs and the lead without recording an out in the third inning. So one day after picking up six innings in a 6-5, 12-inning victory, Los Angeles' bullpen had to carry seven more.

Video: LAD@PIT: Bucs erase Dodgers' lead on five-run 3rd

It was up to the task. Josh Ravin struck out three in two innings, Tony Watson pitched a clean fifth, Tony Cingrani worked two scoreless frames, Josh Fields cruised through a nine-pitch eighth and Kenley Jansen punctuated the bullpen's scoreless performance by striking out the side to pick up his 34th save.

"The story of the night, obviously, was the bullpen," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose bullpen was credited with back-to-back wins (by Cingrani and Luis Avilan) and saves (by Jansen and Ross Stripling). "We had four guys down (Pedro Baez, Brandon Morrow, Stripling and Avilan), but we'll get them back. Kenley will be down tomorrow. With Rich [Hill, starting] tomorrow, we feel good about the coverage."

Five Dodgers relievers combined to strike out nine batters while allowing just three hits and two walks over seven innings.

"They are very effective at the top of the zone, and they have good breaking pitches to throw a pretty good combination punch at you," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The firepower's real. The velocity's real. It's a very unique, dynamic bullpen. That's one of the reasons they've got the record they've got right now."

Video: LAD@PIT: Dodgers 'pen blanks Bucs to seven scoreless

Jameson Taillon grinded through five innings for the Pirates, walking a career-high five batters and striking out only one. Chris Taylor was responsible for most of the damage, scoring after a leadoff double in the first, then driving in two more runs in the second. And Taylor beat out a double-play grounder to extend the seventh inning, allowing Corey Seager to single in a tie-breaking run and extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

"C.T. beating out that double play exemplifies our ballclub, extending that inning," Roberts said.

Video: LAD@PIT: Taylor laces an RBI single, ties game in 4th

Still, Taillon left with the game tied entering the sixth inning.

"There's not many breaks, that's for sure. It's a good lineup," Taillon said. "They're built for a nice run. They obviously have the best record in the NL for a reason. They're good. It was a fun challenge. I'd like to have another crack at it."

Adrian Gonzalez led off the sixth with a double to right, his 2,000th career hit and scored on Seager's two-out single. Facing Pirates rookie Edgar Santana in the seventh, Yasmani Grandal crushed a two-run shot a Statcast-projected 425 feet into the Dodgers' bullpen to push the lead to three.

"That was huge," Roberts said. "Yasmani has been swinging the bat well with not a lot to show for it lately. It was big for him."

Video: LAD@PIT: Grandal uncorks a two-run jack for insurance

Bucs' young arms experiencing growing pains

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Taylor made: Taylor was in the middle of the action as the Dodgers built up an early four-run lead. He set the tone against Taillon in the first at-bat of the game, lining the eighth pitch he saw to left field for a leadoff double, then scored after two groundouts. With the bases loaded and one out in the second, Taylor pulled a 97.6-mph fastball into left field for a two-run single. Taylor finished 3-for-5, his 12th game of the season with at least three hits.

Video: LAD@PIT: Taylor rips a two-run single into left

Star power: More than a month after returning from his 80-game suspension, Starling Marte has found his form. The leadoff-hitting left fielder entered the night batting .300 in August, and he has added power to his swing over the past few days. Marte bashed his first post-suspension homer on Saturday, then clubbed a two-run shot to left field off Stewart in the third inning, the biggest blow in the Bucs' five-run frame.

"I think he's worked in a very professional manner since he's been back. Nobody knows better than the hitter that's in the box where his timing is," Hurdle said. "He didn't get outside himself. He didn't try to overcompensate in any certain area. He didn't try to create bat speed. He just stayed in the box, kept seeing pitches, fighting pitches off, trying to get his timing down, working the ball back to the big part of the field. … He's gotten to a much better spot. He's been much more competitive."

Video: LAD@PIT: Marte sets off fireworks on a two-run homer

QUOTABLE
"I don't think he was being cautious. I don't think he's got a cautious bone or mentality on the mound. I think he was being aggressive. His 'towards' button was off. What he was aiming toward seemed to be low. The consistent command wasn't there, which provided a challenge, obviously."-- Hurdle, on Taillon's command

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his first stolen base as a Dodger, Curtis Granderson became the 36th player in MLB history with 300 home runs (314) and 150 steals.

Video: LAD@PIT: Grandy's 150th steal sets MLB record

WHAT'S NEXT
Dodgers: Rich Hill starts Wednesday's 4:05 p.m. PT game at PNC Park, seeking to reach double figures in wins for the second consecutive season. Hill is 3-1 in his career against the Pirates and is coming off a five-inning win in Detroit, where he allowed three runs.

Pirates: Right-hander Trevor Williams will start for the Pirates on Wednesday as they continue their four-game series against the Dodgers at 7:05 p.m. ET at PNC Park. Williams' first start of the season came at Dodger Stadium on May 8, when he allowed eight runs (six earned) on seven hits in three innings. It was his worst start until his most recent outing, when he gave up eight runs on seven hits, including three homers, in three-plus innings against the Cardinals.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Kenley Jansen, Starling Marte, Brock Stewart, Jameson Taillon, Chris Taylor