'July 4th baseball is always lit': Bucs flip script in LA

Palacios' go-ahead double stuns Dodgers as Pirates end three-game skid

July 5th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- For the majority of Tuesday evening at Chavez Ravine, fireworks were intermittently fired on and off somewhere in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. A boom here, a blast there.

As the evening progressed and day gave way to night, the quality and quantity of the controlled, colorful bombs amplified. By the ninth inning, a plume of smoke began to engulf the stadium. The show in the parking lot, at times, took away from the show on the field. 

But there were some fireworks inside the ballpark, too.

On an evening that featured two errors, five home runs, six lead changes, 12 pitchers, 16 runs, 23 hits and countless explosives, both literal and metaphorical, the Pirates emerged at the end of the night with one of their season’s defining wins. Down a run in the ninth inning, the black and gold scored three runs to secure a 9-7 win over the Dodgers and snap a three-game losing streak on the Fourth of July.

“What an awesome game,” said David Bednar, who ended up with the win just hours after being named an All-Star.

The task of summarizing every minute detail of a game like this one is best reserved for a game log. Even that might struggle to encapsulate these three hours and 14 minutes of organized madness.

The Pirates took the lead with two runs in the first; lost it after allowing three runs in the second; regained it with three runs in the fourth; lost it with two runs in the fourth; then tied it with one run in the sixth. Over the first seven innings, Dodger Stadium’s crowd registered an uneven, erratic blend of despair and joy. Manager Derek Shelton summarized it best.

“There was a lot going on,” Shelton mused.

A lot going on, indeed. Jack Suwinski hit a 442-foot home run with an exit velocity of 114.7 mph, the hardest-hit ball of his career. Nick Gonzales recorded his first three-hit game. The Dodgers' James Outman enjoyed his third multi-homer game. Mookie Betts sent his 23rd home run of the season into the left-field bleachers.

Following a night where Luis L. Ortiz allowed six earned runs, the bullpen provided equanimity. Carmen Mlodzinski threw a scoreless inning. So did Ryan Borucki. Colin Holderman recorded five outs in his longest outing of the season.

Pittsburgh’s relievers stifled Los Angeles’ offense until the eighth inning. With the game tied at 6, Dodgers rookie Jonny Deluca, in his 17th career game, extended his arms and sent an Angel Perdomo fastball into the left-field bleachers for the first homer of his career. Deluca’s teammates egged him on and the rookie provided the fans in the stands with a curtain call, much to their delight.

Minutes later, those cheers became groans. 

With one out in the ninth, Suwinski and Gonzales drew back-to-back walks to put the tying runner in scoring position. Jared Triolo, who was with Triple-A Indianapolis about a week and change ago, laced a single up the middle. Suwinski easily scored the tying run and Gonzales advanced to third.

Josh Palacios had been a spectator for nearly the entire game, but following Triolo’s single, he found himself thrust into the action. He, too, delivered, flipping an opposite-field double down the left-field line; Gonzales trotted home while Triolo, who got a good read on the ball, motored around the bases to officially turn a one-run deficit into a two-run lead. 

“July 4th baseball is always lit,” Palacios said. “To have a comeback like that with the boys and be able to finish it off is a blessing. It's even better that all these guys set me up for that. Guys worked hard all day. I was glad I was able to put that forth and help us get that win."

Like the Pirates and like the fireworks, the Dodgers would not go quiet into the night, putting runners at the corners against Bednar in the bottom of the ninth, but the right-hander slammed the door without allowing a run, his strikeout of Miguel Vargas to end the game inciting a cacophony of boos among the home crowd.

As for the case of I.C. Light he received upon being anointed an All-Star for a second consecutive year? They’re likely already faded to oblivion. 

“Everybody came out of the ‘pen and threw strikes and put us in a good spot to win,” Bednar said. “The boys kept going on offense. It’s a great team win, and to do it on the Fourth in L.A. with this crowd, it was a big win for us.”