It had been a long 11 days since Edinson Volquez previously took the mound when his turn in the rotation came back around Monday night at PNC Park.
The gap of time left him off-kilter as the Los Angeles Dodgers lined a season-high 10 hits off Volquez on their way to a 5-2 win to open a three-game series.
Volquez had given up three earned runs in his past four starts combined, but surrendered five runs in 52⁄3 innings Monday in his first start after the All-Star break.
“I think too many days between starts,” Volquez said. “It was really tough to pitch against a team like that. Everything was off, wasn’t able to execute my breaking balls. It’s tough.”
The Pirates scratched out two runs with two outs in the fourth, but largely were stymied by Dodgers left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Ryu won his third career game against the Pirates, throwing a devastating curveball in the low- to mid-70-mph range that he mixed in with a low-90s fastball and cutter.
“He has command of all of his pitches, which makes his curveball what it is. You can’t eliminate [it],” said Andrew McCutchen, the lone batter among the top four in the order to get a hit off Ryu. “Changeup, cutter, fastball, whatever else he had, [he was] locating. That allows him to throw the curveball whenever he wants to.”
Ryu put the Pirates down in order in four of seven innings and held them to just five hits.
The loss snaps a three-game win streak out of the All-Star break for the Pirates, who are 52-47.
McCutchen went 2 for 4 with a single and run against Ryu, getting his other hit against reliever Brian Wilson in the eighth.
Josh Harrison, batting leadoff, and Starling Marte, hitting second, each went 0 for 4. Gaby Sanchez, batting cleanup, went 0 for 3, and was replaced by Ike Davis in the eighth with McCutchen on base. Davis grounded out to end the inning.
“We’re not the first club [Ryu has] limited hard contact against,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Probably had the biggest breaking curveball that we’ve seen this year as far as depth. It was 13, 14, 15 inches of drop. So he could throw that from 71-74 [mph], the fastball at 92, 93. He’s covering 20 miles. Then he’s got a cutter.
“The guy’s got weapons, and he’s a cool cat on the mound.”
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the third on an RBI double by Matt Kemp and RBI groundout by Andre Ethier. They scored three more in the fourth.
Juan Uribe singled to open the fourth and took third when A.J. Ellis hit a grounder that ricocheted off second base and into the outfield to put runners on the corners. Uribe was retired on a fielder’s choice hit by Dee Gordon, but Justin Turner doubled in Ellis and Gordon and scored on a single by Adrian Gonzalez.
“I believe the layoff, possibly could have lagged with him,” Hurdle said. “I think if you look at all the other starts there’s been some traffic early in games that he’s been able to pitch through.”
The Pirates chipped away at the lead in the fourth, getting two runs on RBI singles by Russell Martin and Jordy Mercer with two outs.
Martin flared a single that scored McCutchen, and Mercer singled to right scoring Neil Walker.
Volquez finished his outing in the sixth after giving up five earned runs. He struck out three, walked three (one intentionally) and hit one batter.
Michael Martinez had a two-out single off Ryu in the seventh, but pinch-hitter Travis Snider grounded into a fielder’s choice.
“It wasn’t like [Ryu] was throwing [his curve] for balls, he was throwing it for strikes,” Harrison said. “When you’ve got a guy who varies his speed like that and is throwing it in for a strike, you just gotta battle, gotta grind.”
Ryu went seven innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs. He walked one and struck out five.
Martinez, making the start in right field, played a ball off the Clemente wall hit by Gonzalez in the first then turned and fired to Mercer, who applied the tag at second. Gonzalez was ruled safe and the Pirates challenged, but the call on the field stood.
The Dodgers were without Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez in the starting lineup. Both players were hit by pitches in the left hand over the weekend in a series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez First Published July 21, 2014 10:31 PM