PITTSBURGH -- The Dodgers were forced to get creative on Thursday afternoon when expected starter Dennis Santana was scratched five minutes before first pitch against the Pirates due to right lat soreness. In turn, they handed the ball to right-hander Daniel Hudson -- who pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief on Wednesday -- to make his first start since May 10, 2015.
Backed by 13 hits -- including a pair of Joc Pederson home runs and a big day from Cody Bellinger -- the Dodgers strung together nine innings from nine pitchers to hold on for an 8-7 win at PNC Park. With the victory, they ended their six-game, seven-day road trip with a 5-1 record and are now .500 on the season. They've won their past three road series and 15 of their past 20 games overall.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he learned that Santana wouldn't be ready to go through a phone call in the dugout from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt during the national anthem. The message was then relayed to the relievers, instructing everyone who wasn't already in the bullpen to go there in the event that they'd be needed early on.
"It's one of those things where you've got to kind of ask guys to do more than they've been asked to do and stretch them more," Roberts said. "You try to navigate it the best you can and you understand you don't have a whole lot of margin [for error]. To the guys' credit, the bullpen did a fantastic job."
Hudson was already in the bullpen when he was asked if he could give the Dodgers an inning of work to start the game. After taking the mound with a 1-0 lead thanks to Pederson's leadoff home run, the righty induced a pair of flyouts before striking out Starling Marte to work a perfect first inning on 15 pitches.
"It was a little bit different," Hudson said. "Everybody has kind of their own routine. In the last two nights, getting the early call, I didn't really get to get in my routine. But it's part of the game, it happens. You just come in, strap it on and get ready to go."
The Dodgers turned to left-hander Scott Alexander for a scoreless second inning before righty Pedro Baez -- who was recalled Thursday morning after being optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday -- took over in the third.
The Pirates tied the game in the third inning, but the Dodgers quickly regained the lead in the fourth as Bellinger slapped a one-out double to right and later scored on Breyvic Valera's perfectly-placed squeeze that went for a single. The Dodgers doubled their advantage in the fifth on a Matt Kemp fielder's choice that scored Pederson.
Baez exited with a two-run lead after two innings of work and earned his third win of the season.
Yasiel Puig gave the Dodgers a three-run cushion in the sixth with a pinch-hit RBI double to center field, but the Pirates quickly plated a pair of runs to cut the deficit to one.
Bellinger gave the Dodgers' bullpen breathing room once more in the seventh inning with a two-run home run to left-center field to push their lead back to three runs. Pederson's second homer of the day came in the eighth and gave the Dodgers a five-run lead.
"I think both those guys are really starting to understand the value of using the whole field, simplifying your mechanics [and] winning pitches," Roberts said.
Despite the Pirates clawing back late, the all-hands-on-deck approach for the Dodgers' bullpen was capped by Kenley Jansen, who worked the final 1 2/3 innings and struck out two for his 15th save.
"I think we all just didn't get bothered by the situation," Jansen said. "We [stuck] our head in the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Setting the table: With one out in the eighth inning, John Forsythe drew a six-pitch walk. In the ensuing at-bat, Pederson connected on a first-pitch slider and drove it 421 feet at an exit velocity of 107 mph, per Statcast™.
The homer gave the Dodgers an 8-3 advantage at the time and proved to be the winning run as the Pirates would score four runs over the final two innings.
Due to the impromptu bullpen day, the Dodgers were forced to trout out the nine pitchers. According to Elias Sports, that marks a new franchise record for pitchers used in a nine-inning game.
HE SAID IT
"Just less movement with my body. Other than that, everything is going to take care of itself. I have to believe in the swing that I have, and just kind of simplifying everything makes it a little easier."
-- Bellinger, on how his new approach at the plate helped him go 5-for-11 with three home runs in the three-game series with the Pirates
Right-hander Walker Buehler will get the start for the Dodgers as they return home to open a three-game series against the Braves on Friday at Dodger Stadium at 7:10 p.m. PT. Buehler earned a no-decision in his last start after allowing four earned runs in five innings against the Rockies. Righty Brandon McCarthy will start for the Braves.