Say this for the Dodgers, they may not win a lot, but when they do, they tend to make it interesting.
They seemed all set to win a routine game Saturday -- getting great starting pitching, a spurt of timely hitting and even a game-saving defensive play -- when things went astray in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Kenley Jansen, the newly appointed closer who had been pitching very well, gave up a game-tying home run to pinch-hitter Travis Snider.
Only this time the Dodgers shook off the disappointment and rallied for a pair of runs in the 11th inning to pull out a 5-3 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park.
The Dodgers scored off reliever Vin Mazzaro. Andre Ethier doubled to open the inning and was sacrificed to third base on a bunt by Mark Ellis. Juan Uribe singled home Ethier with the go-ahead run. After a wild pitch, pinch-hitter Nick Punto doubled in Uribe.
The Dodgers then had to survive a sketchy bottom of the inning. The Pirates had the tying runs at second and third bases with one out on a pair of infield hits and a wild pitch from former closer Brandon League.
But Andrew McCutchen bounced out and Gabby Sanchez lined out to Skip Schumaker in left to end it. And earn League his 14th save.
Schumaker had already made a leaping catch at the left-field wall to steal a three-run homer from former Dodger Russell Martin in the sixth.
For a Dodgers team that has lost five of its last six games, a victory of any sorts, counts plenty.
Clayton Kershaw started for the Dodgers, but got in early trouble when Alex Presley led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and, after a sacrifice bunt, he walked the bases loaded. Martin then bounced a perfect double-play ball to Hanley Ramirez at shortstop.
Ramirez stepped on second base and then threw the ball somewhere in the vicinity of the Allegheny River, as Presley scored.
Meanwhile, right-hander Brandon Cumpton –- making his major league debut –- was making it look easy for the Pirates. He struck out five of the first six Dodgers he faced.
With Kershaw seemingly getting stronger, the Pirates clung to the 1-0 lead until the fifth inning when A.J. Ellis singled, was sacrificed to second by Kershaw and scored when Schumaker lined a single to right.
The Dodgers took the lead in the sixth behind the middle of their lineup. Adrian Gonzalez hit a ground-rule double and took third on a single by Ramirez. Andre Ethier lined a basehit up the middle to score Gonzalez, and after Bryan Morris took over for Cumpton, Mark Ellis lifted a sacrifice fly to score Ramirez and give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates had runners at first and second when Martin lined a drive to left. Schumaker retreated to the 6-foot fence, jumped and caught the ball clearly over the top of the wall.
Kershaw went seven strong innings, holding the Pirates to one run on three hits. He walked three and struck out eight.
The Pirates got one run back in the eighth inning against Chris Withrow, making his second major league appearance. Withrow gave up a basehit and a walk before getting consecutive strikeouts. Paco Rodriquez relieved Withrow, giving up a run-scoring single to Neil Walker.
Things still seemed all neat and comfy for the Dodgers when they sent Kenley Jansen in to close the 3-2 lead.
But with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Snider jumped on a fat Jansen fastball. It was one of those no-doubters, the homer tying the score and sending ithe game into extra innings.
It was the Dodgers’ 15th blown save of the season, most in the major leagues.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun