Scoring chances don't often present themselves against Clayton Kershaw. The Pirates found some Saturday, but could not do enough with them.
Though the Pirates came from behind and forced extra innings, they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-3, in 11 innings at PNC Park. The Pirates went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base.
"We had Kershaw four different innings, we needed a knock to do some damage," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We did everything but score. We ramped the pitch count up, we got on base. When you got a guy like that on the mound, you got to find some two-out RBIs. We weren't able to do that against him."
Kershaw held the Pirates to one run and three hits in seven innings.
Vin Mazzaro was the loser, allowing two runs in the 11th. Andre Ethier doubled, his third hit of the game. Mark Ellis' sacrifice bunt moved Ethier to third. Juan Uribe chopped a single past the infield, playing in to cut off a run, and Ethier scored. Nick Punto doubled home Uribe.
The Pirates had a shot in the 10th, when Peter Moylan walked Russell Martin with two outs. Neil Walker doubled into the right-field corner, but Yasiel Puig slid and gloved the ball to keep it from ricocheting off the wall. Martin stopped at third.
The Dodgers intentionally walked Pedro Alvarez to load the bases, bringing pinch-hitter Michael McKenry to the plate, but McKenry flied out on the first pitch he saw.
Travis Snider's solo home run off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth forced extra innings. Snider hit a 2-2 fastball into the seats in center field. Center fielder Andre Ethier took only a few cursory steps in the direction of Snider's line-drive homer, which tied the score at 3-3.
"If you get a fastball in the zone, you've got to put a good swing on it, no matter how many strikes you have," Snider said.
The tying home run came a couple of hours after Brandon Cumpton exited his major league debut. Cumpton, 24, a right-hander, allowed three runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out five, in five-plus innings.
Cumpton started for the Pirates after A.J. Burnett went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday because of a minor tear in his calf. Cumpton started the season in Class AA Altoona and had pitched in only 11 games in Class AAA prior to his call-up.
"[Cumpton] was pitching more effectively than anybody else of the other couple names that were considered," Hurdle said before the game. "There was separation of what he had done in his last seven or eight starts."
Cumpton baffled the Dodgers the first time through the lineup. He struck out five of the first six batters he faced.
"I was trying to just throw strikes early, throw strikes with everything I had," Cumpton said. "Fortunately I got some swing and misses and it helped me out a little bit."
Kershaw drew a two-out walk in the third, the first baserunner Cumpton allowed. Puig recorded the first hit against Cumpton leading off the fourth.
Cumpton did not strike out another batter after the second. In his final two-plus innings of work, he allowed hits to seven of the 13 batters he faced.
"I was starting to fall behind," Cumpton said. "They were sitting more on the fastball. I made a couple bad pitches up. They put good swings on them, put them in play."
Three consecutive hits to start the sixth forced Cumpton from the game. Gonzalez hit a double that bounced over the wall in left-center field. Ramirez and Ethier hit consecutive singles to score a run, and Alex Presley's error put runners on second and third.
"Basically missed a couple spots in the sixth, but it was a very professional job," Hurdle said.
Bryan Morris replaced Cumpton and induced a sacrifice fly from Mark Ellis to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
Another pitcher who just made his debut, Gerrit Cole, takes the mound today. He does so against another former Cy Young winner, Zack Greinke.
"Having two rookies in the same week, it's just a testament to this clubhouse," Snider said. "We try to make these guys feel as comfortable as possible.
"Guys come in here and they know what they need to do."mobilehome - homepage - breaking - pirates
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG.