Following a thrilling a come-from-behind victory in their last game, the surging Los Angeles Dodgers look to continue their sensational start as they try for a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
The Dodgers (13-5) own the best record in baseball, but needed some late-inning heroics in a 7-3 victory on Saturday.
Trailing by one in the ninth inning, pinch hitter Wilson Valdez reached on a fielder’s choice, took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a throwing error by Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino. Valdez then scored on a passed ball to tie the score at 3.
In the 10th inning, catcher Russell Martin ended the game with a walk-off grand slam to give Los Angeles its third straight victory and sixth in seven games.
“I was really just trying to hit a flyball there,” said Martin, who 0-for-9 overall before his slam. “I knew I hit it good, but you never know when it’s nighttime here at Dodger Stadium. That ball does die out there at night, a little bit more than during the day.”
The Dodgers are off to their best start since 2005, and with a win in this contest will be off to their first 14-5 start since 1983.
Jeff Kent went 3-for-5 with an RBI for his fourth straight multihit game, during which he’s batting .688 (11-for-16) with five RBIs and five runs. Kent also is hitting .464 (13-for-28) with two homers and seven RBIs in his last eight home games against Pittsburgh (6-10).
Los Angeles swept the Pirates at Dodger Stadium on June 23-25, and is 18-7 against them at home since 2001.
Brett Tomko (0-0, 1.64 ERA) tries to give the Dodgers another home sweep over Pittsburgh as he again tries for his first win of 2007.
After allowing just one hit through six shutout innings in his first start this year, Tomko labored through his next outing. He gave up four runs - two earned - eight hits and four walks in just five innings, but did not factor in the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over Arizona on Tuesday.
Tomko went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against the Pirates last season, but also faced them once in relief, allowing four runs - one earned - and four hits in two-thirds of an inning during a 10-6 loss on Sept. 19.
He’s 7-5 with a 4.35 ERA in 19 games against Pittsburgh in his career.
The Pirates have lost four straight, allowing at least seven runs in each game. One bright spot in Pittsburgh’s rotation is Tom Gorzelanny (2-0, 1.33), who takes the hill in the finale.
Gorzelanny has allowed just three runs in 21 1-3 innings this season, and came within two outs of his first career complete game Friday in a 6-1 win over St. Louis. The left-hander allowed one run and four hits in just his 15th major league start.
“Everyone expects to do well, and that’s what I expect,” said Gorzelanny, the Pirates’ minor league pitcher of the year last season. “It’s exciting that I have gotten off to this kind of start.”
Gorzelanny has only faced Los Angeles once in his career, and it was an outing he would probably like to forget. He pitched one inning of relief at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 26, 2005, giving up three runs and two hits.