Dodgers Offense Answers Wake-Up Call to Sweep Pirates

Adrian Gonzalez's four RBI day leads Dodgers to series sweep of Pirates

By Tony Castro
|  Sunday, Apr 7, 2013  |  Updated 5:47 PM PDT
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NewsConference: Los Angeles Dodgers Historian, Mark Langill

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Pitcher J.P. Howell #56 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the MLB game at Dodger Stadium on April 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Pirates 6-2.

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From his new condo at the Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. Live, one of Los Angeles’ newest millionaires has views of the Hollywood Hills, the ocean and the downtown skyline, most importantly his work office.

Hyun-Jin Ryu never imagined he would be able to wake up and see Dodger Stadium on the horizon.

And on Sunday, the Dodgers lefthander appeared to have even e-mailed his first-inning performance from that lofty home, giving up Andrew McCutcheon’s first home run of the season – a two-run dinger that had Ryu back on his heels.

Fortunately, this was the Pirates, and the wake-up call finally lit up the Dodgers’ offense for a 6-2 victory, closing out the home stand with a series sweep and feasting on the Bucs after dropping two of three to the Giants.

What else do you call an offensive awakening when the only long ball is delivered by shortstop Justin Sellers, hitless after 15 at-bats, visibly pressing and the gift to the fans from Hanley Ramirez’s injury while playing in the World Baseball Classic for that Dodger international enclave, the Dominican Republic.

Sellers’ solo shot to left field in the seventh inning was a welcome relief, given that Ramirez is expected to be out another six weeks at least, after surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.

Meanwhile, Dodgers leadoff hitter Carl Crawford continued his torrid opening pace, going 2-for-4 and raising his average to .450. Adrian Gonzalez went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs. And Nick Punto, filling in at second base, made an unexpected contribution with two hits.

The Pirates were shut down after McCutcheon’s home run in the first, a belt into the leftfield bleachers that drove in Starling Marte, who had led off the game with a single.

Ryu also issued a walk and a wild pitch in the first, only avoiding giving up a bigger inning when third baseman Juan Uribe made a diving stop of catcher Michael McHenry’s liner down the line.

As happened in his first start against the Giants, Ryu didn’t fully seem in command, appearing at times as if another unexpected big hit was possible.

Yet when Ryu left after 6 1/3 innings, his stats were more impressive than the game he pitched. He gave up only the two earned runs, three hits and two walks against six strikeouts.

It was the same distance he went against the Giants on Tuesday night, when he surrendered only one run, though the Giants got 10 hits and capitalized on two crucial errors late in the game.

Overall, it was another good outing for the 26-year-old who signed a six-year, $36-million deal with the Dodgers in December, that perhaps suffers in translation or when cast against the back-to-back brilliant performances of teammates Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.

The Dodgers got Ryu off the hook in their half of the first, evening the score when Gonzalez’ single up the middle drove in Punto who had singled and Matt Kemp who had doubled, his second hit of the season.

The Dodgers took the lead in the bottom of the third when Kemp’s sacrifice fly scored Carl Crawford who had doubled and moved to third on Punto’s sacrifice bunt.

From there, it was smooth sailing for the Dodgers, with Ryu and the bullpen shutting down the Pirates for the last eight innings.

“Our pitching’s incredible,” Gonzales said after the game. “They’re going to give us a chance to win every time.”

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