LOS ANGELES -- For the past month, every night it seemed as though the Dodgers' offense could be compared to a brilliant fireworks show, slugging its way to victory after victory. But on Wednesday, Los Angeles didn't put on the power display it has in recent weeks.Instead, the Dodgers relied
LOS ANGELES -- For the past month, every night it seemed as though the Dodgers' offense could be compared to a brilliant fireworks show, slugging its way to victory after victory. But on Wednesday, Los Angeles didn't put on the power display it has in recent weeks.
Instead, the Dodgers relied on catcher Yasmani Grandal and Chris Taylor's combined six-RBI effort and a solid outing from left-hander Rich Hill. The combination was enough to notch a 6-4 victory against the Pirates and complete a three-game series sweep.
"There's a pretty good chance that even if we weren't hitting home runs, we'd still at least score runs somehow," Taylor said. "I think we're just happy to put good at-bats up out there."
Dodger Stadium welcomed a sellout crowd of 53,139 as Hill drew his first career Independence Day start. As if that wasn't monumental enough for Hill, he was facing a Pirates squad he pitched nine no-hit innings against last season in Pittsburgh. It wasn't until Josh Harrison hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th that his magnificent outing was spoiled.
Hill didn't prove as dominant Wednesday night, but was good enough. He tossed five innings, allowing just two runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out five across 73 total pitches. The outing was encouraging for the southpaw, who spent an earlier chunk of the season on the disabled list with a blistered finger on his throwing hand.
"Where we're at to this point, the way the ball is coming out and the way both the fastball and curveball are really marrying each other [has gone] extremely well," Hill said. "I think that's something I look forward to keeping for the rest of the season."
Hill was pulled ahead of the sixth inning, after attempting to score from third base in the bottom of the fourth. As the 38-year-old tried to avoid the tag of Pirates catcher Elias Diaz, he awkwardly slid head-first across the plate.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts cited neck stiffness as the reason for pulling Hill.
"It's day to day," Roberts said.
Los Angeles had built a 4-2 lead by the time Hill exited the contest. Grandal hit a pair of run-scoring hits off Pirates starter Clay Holmes, a right-hander making his first career Major League start. Grandal connected on an RBI single in the first inning, then a two-run double in the third, which Taylor followed with an RBI single the next at-bat. In the bottom of the fifth, Taylor singled again to score two more, giving the Dodgers a 6-2 edge.
Roberts was pleased with his offense producing another night of quality at-bats. The Dodgers outscored the Pirates 31-8 over the three-game series. They took advantage of inexperience on the mound again Wednesday, forcing Holmes from the contest after just 2 1/3 innings.
"To wait him out, get him in the zone and take our walks early, to stress him and get to their bullpen," Roberts said, "it's huge."
Although the Dodgers didn't produce any fireworks in the form of home runs, they generated plenty of sparks on the mound. During the top of the sixth, right-hander Daniel Hudson was ejected after first-base umpire Jeff Nelson prompted the pitcher to assure he was showing a baserunner the ball.
"He wanted Daniel to have the hand available for the runner to see or away from the eye," Roberts said. "I don't even know the exact specifics. All I know is, talking to Bob [Green], my bench coach, Nelly had it right."
After Los Angeles reliever Edward Paredes conceded a two-run shot to Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco in the eighth, the Dodgers brought in Kenley Jansen to close the door with a five-out save.
Jansen hung on, striking out Austin Meadows to record his 23rd save. The win improved the Dodgers' record to 47-39 with 10 games to play before the All-Star break.
"We've just got to keep going, playing good baseball," Taylor said. "Hopefully at the end, we'll be right in it and right where we belong."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was plunked by Pirates right-hander Tyler Glasnow to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, as a 99-mph fastball grazed his shoulder and bounced off his chin.
"Yeah, shoulder first then it hit my helmet a bit," Turner said. "I'm good."
Turner bounced up and remained in the game, taking first base before reaching second on a balk. After Cody Bellinger and Grandal walked, Taylor laced a bases-loaded single back up the middle to score Turner and Bellinger, giving the Dodgers a four-run advantage.
"It's what we expect of him," Roberts said, remarking on Turner's toughness. "That's just the way he plays."
The Dodgers are now 42-12 (.778) when they score first, compared to 5-27 (.156) when they don't. According to STATS LLC, that would be the biggest difference in winning percentage in those two splits by any team since 1912.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Hill attempted to spark the Dodgers' offense during the fourth inning, as the southpaw reached on a bunt single down the right side of the infield. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch by Ricardo Rodriguez, then moved to third when Rodriguez flung another wild pitch above the head of Diaz. With two outs and Hill 90 feet from scoring, Muncy hit a fly ball into shallow center, and Hill tagged up, but to no avail. He was thrown out by Pirates center fielder Starling Marte, although he did receive an ovation from the crowd for his hustle on the basepaths.
"It was a lot of running for Rich," Roberts said, smiling.
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, but not really. I'm definitely going to be out there and working on it with somebody. I'm gonna grab somebody and have them teach me how to slide head-first." -- Hill, on whether the Dodgers went over sliding with him during Spring Training
After an off-day Thursday, the Dodgers will head east to Anaheim, where they will open a three-game Freeway Series against the Angels on Friday. Right-hander Kenta Maeda will be on the mound for Los Angeles. It could mark the first time Maeda pitches against fellow countryman and rookie phenom Shohei Ohtani, who's appeared in each of the Halos' last three games since being activated from the disabled list. The Angels have yet to name a starter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. PT.
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.