Rare League hiccup opens door for Pirates
Dodgers reliever gives up three runs after taking over tied game
LOS ANGELES -- Right-hander Brandon League had been on quite a roll for the Dodgers, but it came to an abrupt end Thursday night -- along with his team's recent domination of the Pirates at Dodger Stadium.
The Pirates sent nine men to the plate in the seventh inning against League and fellow reliever Paul Maholm, scored three runs to break a tie, and went on to take a 6-3 victory.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole (5-3) went 6 1/3 innings to help the Pirates end their nine-game losing streak in Los Angeles, dating to April 16, 2011. The former UCLA star, from Orange County, struck out three, walked two and allowed three earned runs on six hits in his successful homecoming.
Cole, 23, a model of consistency in his second season, has allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine of his 11 starts.
"He's good," Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon said. "I'd only seen him on video before. He has great stuff. The fact he's a four-pitch pitcher makes him tough, especially when he's throwing 98 [mph]."
League, who started the seventh inning, had not allowed an earned run in 16 appearances since April 16, spanning 22 2/3 innings.
He allowed five of six batters to reach base -- the exception being a sacrifice by Cole. Josh Harrison and Neil Walker had RBI singles off League, and pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez laced an RBI double off Maholm. A successful Dodgers challenge of a safe call on a stolen-base attempt by Starling Marte, who led off the inning and reached on a throwing error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez, prevented even more damage.
"We kind of got the game where we wanted, to the back end of the bullpen," manager Don Mattingly said, "and it didn't go very well from then.
"We have to look at his (League's) body of work. He's been pretty good. They squared some balls up. We have to give him a hiccup, now and then. The way he's worked to get where he is, we look for him to bounce back."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he's seen League over the years, and has been impressed.
"The guy has a turbo sinker, and a split," Hurdle said. "His good action is down, and another guy who feeds off the fact it looks like a strike out of his hand, then usually doesn't end up like one. We showed some discipline, got some balls up and didn't miss them."
Dodgers starter Dan Haren gave up a pair of prodigious solo home runs -- 435 feet by Russell Martin, 429 by Pedro Alvarez -- but scattered six other hits through six innings. He struck out two and walked none.
"I made a bad pitch to Russell Martin, a split that popped up out of my hand," Haren said. "We came back to tie, but I'm really mad about that pitch. It was one of those you hope they foul off. The one to Alvarez was a decent pitch -- I can live with that one.
"We really faced a tough pitcher, and I wasn't able to hold them down. I've been mediocre here for a few starts now. Strikeouts have kind of come and gone for me. I got a lot last game ... but when that many balls get put into play, bad things have to happen."
Mattingly was more pleased with Haren's outing than Haren was.
"I think Danny, basically, consistently does what he does," Mattingly said. "He keeps us in the game. He knows exactly who he is.
"Danny's not going to be a swing-and-miss guy. They're going to put the ball in play. Usually [the home runs] are solos."
Martin's homer put the Pirates up, 3-2, in the sixth, but Ramirez's RBI single in the bottom of the inning tied it and got Haren off the hook.
Gordon had an RBI single in the second and added stolen bases Nos. 31 and 32 to his Major League-leading total, but was stranded at third base.
Yasiel Puig extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 30 with a bloop double to right in the first inning. It drove in Andre Ethier, who had legged out a triple with one out. He then doubled again ahead of Ramirez's single in the sixth.
Puig also made a nice running catch in foul territory to catch a Clint Barmes fly ball in the eighth, banging off the restraining wall in the process.