LOS ANGELES -- Clint Hurdle sat in his office Tuesday afternoon, looking at the Dodgers' lineup card in his hand a day after they pounded out 17 runs on 21 hits against the Pirates. This is Hurdle's 44th season in professional baseball, and he figures this Dodgers lineup "probably swings
LOS ANGELES -- Clint Hurdle sat in his office Tuesday afternoon, looking at the Dodgers' lineup card in his hand a day after they pounded out 17 runs on 21 hits against the Pirates. This is Hurdle's 44th season in professional baseball, and he figures this Dodgers lineup "probably swings the bat with the most ferocity of anybody that I've ever seen."
Tuesday night brought another round of ferocious swings and loud contact. The Dodgers bashed five homers against starter Ivan Nova -- the most ever allowed by a Pirates pitcher in one game -- and clubbed another off reliever Dovydas Neverauskas in an 8-3 win over the Bucs at Dodger Stadium. Of the Dodgers' 11 hits on the night, nine of them went for extra bases.
"They're horses over there. It's a stacked team," said Pirates third baseman David Freese, who went 3-for-3 with a homer of his own. "They're swinging it, spitting on pitches. … They've just got really good approaches right now. They're on time. All of them are on time, it looks like."
The Pirates had not allowed six homers in one game in nearly seven years. The Cubs went deep six times against Pittsburgh on Aug. 2, 2011. The Bucs fell short of their single-game franchise record of eight homers, a mark set against the Milwaukee Braves on Aug. 30, 1953.
Nova immediately ran into trouble against the Dodgers' powerful, lefty-laden lineup. Leadoff man Joc Pederson swatted Nova's first pitch of the game out to right-center field. Nova then grooved a 3-0 fastball to Player Page for Max Muncy, the next hitter, who ripped it to center field.
"It's not fun when you're giving up that many homers," Nova said. "Sometimes you give up that many runs, and you don't feel that bad. Giving up five homers, it's just too much."
Muncy was at it again in the third inning, launching Nova's 2-0 changeup out to right-center field for his 20th home run. The previously unheralded infielder's power surge captured Hurdle's attention. After his second of the night, Muncy was averaging a home run every 9.2 at-bats this season.
"The home run per at-bat ratio," Hurdle said, "it's The Babe."
Looking to relieve a tired Pirates bullpen, Nova did what he could to pitch deep into the game, but the Dodgers continued to capitalize as he fell behind in counts and made mistakes over the plate. Chris Taylor hit a two-run shot to left-center in the fourth, and Yasmani Grandal hit a fastball out to center in the sixth.
"I was behind in the count all the time," Nova said. "I feel good physically. I wasn't able to throw the quality strikes that I needed. They were swinging the bat really well."
Nova faced 25 batters on the night, and six of them produced "barreled" balls, according to Statcast™. He gave way to Neverauskas before he could record an out in the sixth. Neverauskas entered the game in fitting fashion, serving up a first-pitch homer to Enrique Hernandez. It was the Dodgers' 66th home run since June 1; the Pirates have hit 66 homers in 72 games since April 14.
"We've unfortunately put a lot of balls in the middle-middle part of the plate that they're not missing," Hurdle said. "They're not missing fastballs, for sure."
Elias Diaz and Freese provided the Pirates' only runs against Clayton Kershaw, who pitched six innings on 74 pitches. In both the second and fourth innings, Freese followed a Diaz double with an RBI single. Freese added a high homer to left field in the seventh off reliever Yimi Garcia, his fifth of the season.
"David Freese had a tremendous game," Nova said. "They were fighting back. I wasn't able to hold it. All the blame is on me. I should pitch better than that."
Nova had only allowed four home runs in one game once in his career before Tuesday night. Pitching for the Yankees, he gave up four homers over four innings in a 16-1 loss to the Rays on April 19, 2014.
This was the 11th time since 1908 that the Pirates allowed at least six home runs in one game.
HE SAID IT
"Obviously his velo's just down a little bit, but he's still got that cutter. He works it. He's just a guy that locates. You can sense when he's out there that he trusts every pitch he's about to throw. I think that's what makes him really good. Then he paints. He's a bulldog. He's a guy you want out there wearing the same jersey, for sure." -- Freese, on Kershaw
Right-hander Clay Holmes will make his first Major League start, replacing the injured Joe Musgrove as the Pirates wrap up their three-game series against the Dodgers on Wednesday night. The Bucs will face Rich Hill, their third straight left-handed starter in this series. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET at Dodger Stadium.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.