Most teams win about half of their one-run games, so the Pirates are right on schedule this year with a 2-2 record after playing four one-run games to open the season. On the offensive side, this one unfolded just about how you’d expect it to with Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers. The Pirates scored their only run in the seventh inning mainly because Juan Rivera fell asleep on a Casey McGehee flyout to left field and caught it flat-footed, which allowed Alex Presley to take third base right in front of him. That put Andrew McCutchen on second and so when Matt Hague hit a grounder up the middle, it scored a run instead of ending the inning with a double play. It was a great, heads-up play by Presley (and by extension, McCutchen), but other than that the Pirates only threatened when McGehee tripled to lead off the second inning and was stranded there. Kershaw was otherwise dominant — he struck out seven and only allowed two hits besides the singles Presley and McCutchen had to lead off the seventh.
The Bucs found themselves in the game, though, because Kevin Correia delivered six strong innings and Juan Cruz threw a few wiffleball curves in the seventh to keep the Dodgers at one run. It looked like Jason Grilli was going to continue the trend, but then he came a little too far inside with a breaking pitch to Andre Ethier (he did a good job keeping it down in the zone, but that apparently didn’t matter) and gave up a golf-shot solo homer that made the difference.
It’s easy to say that the Pirates’ offense has been slow-starting this spring because of the opposition, but with Chad Billingsley going for the Dodgers tomorrow night and a trip to San Francisco in the offing, things aren’t going to get much easier on the Pirates’ hitters for a while. The good news is that the pitching staff has kept the club in close in every game so far. Hopefully, that will continue until the Pirates can see some easier competition on the opposing mound.