LOS ANGELES – The Pittsburgh Pirates finally hit their first home run of the season – the last team in the majors to do so. Andrew McCutchen’s two-run shot wasn’t enough, however, as Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen shut them down the rest of the way.
Jeff Locke lost in his season debut, giving up four runs and eight hits over six innings in a 6-2 loss on Sunday as the Pirates were swept at Dodger Stadium for the second straight year.
“He bent, but he didn’t really break,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “If we break it down, we’d like him to get in front of hitters a little bit better than we did today. He was about 50 percent on first-pitch strikes and got into some deep counts. His fastball command wasn’t as sharp as we saw in his last two outings this spring. So that provided a little bit more of a challenge against a pretty good lineup.”
Locke, Pittsburgh’s minor league pitcher of the year last season, was 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA in six starts and one relief outing during spring training. The 25-year-old left-hander, beginning what he hopes will be his first full season in the majors, is 1-7 with a 6.32 ERA and nine home runs allowed in 11 big league starts over a three-year span.
“I feel like I threw the ball really well in the spring. So when you break with this team up here, you’ve got to feel confident,” Locke said. “I felt very confident coming in today, and the results of the game doesn’t change the kind of confidence I have in myself.”
Adrian Gonzalez drove in four runs with three hits and Justin Sellers homered for the Dodgers, supporting Ryu’s first major league victory. Pittsburgh has lost nine straight at Dodger Stadium and 19 of 23 since its last series victory here in September 2006.
Ryu (1-1) allowed two runs and three hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out six and walking two. The 26-year-old lefty from South Korea signed a $36 million, six-year contract with the Dodgers in December after they bid $25.7 million to win exclusive rights to negotiate with him.
“The feeling came to me when we were up 4-2. That’s when I actually thought, ‘It could be today,’ Ryu said through a translator. “It absolutely felt great to get the first win at Dodger Stadium in front of the home crowd, but most importantly it felt good to help my team get the win today.”
Pittsburgh dropped the first two games of the series 3-0 to Zack Greinke and 1-0 to Clayton Kershaw, getting just two hits against each pitcher. McCutchen’s homer prevented the club from being shut out in three consecutive games for the first time since August 1968.
“Last year we did a pretty good job, as far as hitting home runs, and our production was up,” said McCutchen, who led the club last year with 31. “So we’re not worried, as far as the power goes. We just need to get the job done with runners in scoring position, do the little things right, and it will all turn around.
“We’ve got a long ways to go, so there’s no need to hit the panic button. All we have to do is stay positive and keep working on it. I mean, we’re not getting killed 15-0. We’re just not manufacturing the runs we want to. But in due time, that’ll happen.”
Matt Kemp gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third with a sacrifice fly after Carl Crawford led off with a double and advanced on Nick Punto’s sacrifice bunt. Gonzalez added a run in the fifth with an RBI single. The Dodgers tacked on two more in the seventh against Chris Leroux with Sellers’ leadoff homer and Gonzalez’s run-scoring single.
Starling Marte opened the game with a single and McCutchen hit a one-out drive about five rows into the left field pavilion. Ryu walked Gaby Sanchez, but third baseman Juan Uribe helped minimize the damage by robbing Michael McKenry of a potential RBI double down the line with a diving stop and getting the forceout at second.
Los Angeles tied it in the bottom half with three straight one-out hits, including a two-run double by Gonzalez.
The Pirates’ five-game homerless drought equaled the franchise’s longest from the start of a season since an 11-game stretch in 1943. They also failed to hit one through their first five games in 1998 and 1967. … The Pirates have gone 4-19 at Dodger Stadium since they last won a series here in 2006. … McKenry made his season debut behind the plate with Russell Martin getting a day off. Martin is hitless in his first 14 official at-bats with his new club after sending the previous two seasons with the Yankees.
Pirates fall 1-0 to Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw followed up his sensational one-man show on opening day with seven innings of two-hit ball and nine strikeouts in a spirited duel with A.J. Burnett, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Pittsburgh 1-0 Saturday night for their second straight shutout win over the Pirates.
Kershaw (2-0) walked one and retired 17 consecutive batters after giving up a leadoff single in the first inning to Starling Marte. Last Monday, the 2011 Cy Young Award winner threw a four-hitter against the World Series champion Giants and broke a scoreless tie with his first major league home run.
Kershaw’s latest gem came one night after Zack Greinke held the Bucs to two hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-0 victory.