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Pirates Blanked

Pittsburgh has dropped six of its last eight

August 15, 2012
The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) - After enduring last year's late-season free fall with Pittsburgh, Andrew McCutchen is convinced these Pirates aren't on their way to a repeat performance.

Chad Billingsley pitched eight dominant innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers routed the Pirates 11-0 Tuesday night.

Pittsburgh has lost five of six and six of eight and is 3-6 on its season-long 11-game homestand.

Article Photos

Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones (46) hits a double off L.A. pitcher Chad Billingsley during the second inning of Tuesday night’s game at PNC Park. The Dodgers shut out the Bucs, 11-0.

AP Photo

That's bringing back memories of last season in Pittsburgh; where there were high hopes the Pirates would have their first winning season since 1992 when they were 53-47 on July 26.

Instead, a 19-43 collapse the rest of the way resulted in the franchise's seventh consecutive 90-loss season.

"We are doing a lot better than we did last year," McCutchen said.

"We are still in a good position and where we need to be. It's not like we are 30 games out of it. We're still fighting and we need to keep playing like we are the team that everybody is scared to play against."

Wild card leaders just a week ago, Pittsburgh's grip on the second wild card spot has slipped to a half-game lead over the surging Dodgers.

"This is our worst patch of play probably during the season," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

"Every team that I have been on has a patch of play like this. We know what we are dealing with and we have to find a way to turn it around."

The Dodgers have won five of six, pushing them to the top of the NL West.

Luis Cruz tied career highs for hits and RBIs with three each.

Hanley Ramirez added three hits, two RBIs and two runs as Los Angeles beat the Pirates for the eighth straight time dating to last season.

Los Angeles matched its highest-scoring game of the season.

Billingsley (9-9) won his fifth consecutive start, allowing five hits and one walk. He improved to 7-1 in his career against the Pirates.

Billingsley waited out a 55-minute relay at the beginning, then struck five and improved to 5-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts since a July stint on the disabled list due to elbow inflammation. He had lost all five of his previous outings before going on the DL.

"You know, honestly, nothing much," Billingsley said when asked what's been different since coming off the DL. "I've been throwing just fastballs and commanding the fastball pretty well lately, and just mixing in offspeed. As far as my thought process, it hasn't changed."

Shawn Tolleson worked a perfect ninth to preserve the Dodgers' seventh shutout of the season. The Pirates have been blanked 10 times.

Pittsburgh's Kevin Correia (9-7) had won seven straight decisions, tied for the longest active streak in the majors.

Auditioning for a permanent spot in the starting rotation during the stretch drive, Correia gave up five earned runs and seven hits in six innings. Only four hits off Correia left the infield.

"I felt good out there and I think that I made a lot of good pitches," Correia said. "Obviously things didn't really go my way for a few innings, but I had chances after that to make a good pitch and get out of the inning and I missed a couple."

Shane Victorino had an RBI grounder in the third, and the Dodgers loaded the bases without hitting a ball to the outfield to begin a three-run fourth. Infield singles by Matt Kemp and Ramirez sandwiched Andre Ethier reaching on an error by Pirates second baseman Neil Walker put Los Angeles in position.

Kemp scored on James Loney's groundout, and Ethier and Ramirez were driven in by a line-drive single by Cruz - the only ball of the inning to leave the infield.

The Dodgers added two runs in the sixth when Ramirez, Loney and Cruz hit consecutive singles and A.J. Ellis followed with a sacrifice fly.

Before the game, Hurdle said that he would go with a five-man rotation after the team's next day off Aug. 23. Correia was removed from the rotation after the team acquired Wandy Rodriguez on July 24 despite the fact Correia won his fifth consecutive start the following day.

Correia made only one relief appearance, however, before he was returned to starting Aug. 8. He will get one more start before Hurdle said the Pirates would send one of their six starters to the bullpen.

Correia had won each of his past six starts.

The Dodgers turned it into a rout in the ninth, adding five runs off Chad Qualls. Either had a two-run single and Ramirez a two-run double.

"You've got everybody chipping in," Ramirez said. "Not only one guy, the whole team is going out there and contributing."

NOTES: The only previous occasion Cruz had three hits in a game was also at PNC Park: Sept. 12, 2008, while playing for Pittsburgh. He also had three RBIs in a game once previously. ... Pittsburgh entered its season-long 11-game homestand with the best home record in baseball but is 3-6 on it so far. ... The Dodgers are 11-1 in the Eastern time zone this season. ... Los Angeles is 44-3 when scoring at least five runs. ... Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw allowed one run over seven innings in a start against the Pirates earlier this season. Rodriguez pitched seven shutout innings in his only appearance against Los Angeles this season. Kershaw and Rodriguez will start in the third game of the series Wednesday.

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