After one of the worst seven-game stretches in major league history, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally have at least some room for optimism.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are finding it much more difficult to be positive these days.
The Dodgers come home from an ugly nine-game road trip having dropped four straight, and they’ll hope to pass their misery back to the Pirates when the teams begin a four-game set Thursday night.
Los Angeles (8-13) dropped two of three at Pittsburgh to start the season, and was 6-6 heading into a nine-game road trip that began April 20 in Cincinnati.
The Dodgers limped home from the trip losers of seven of nine and without the middle-of-the-order presence of the injured Manny Ramirez(notes). Los Angeles was held to five hits Wednesday afternoon as the New York Mets extended the Dodgers’ skid with a 7-3 win.
Los Angeles is hitting .192 in six games since Ramirez has gone on the disabled list with a calf strain.
“We’re not where we want to be,” catcher Russell Martin(notes) told the Dodgers’ official website. “There are times when things aren’t going well that shows the true character of a team. Right now, the character is not where it needs to be. I still think we have a lot more fight in us.”
General manager Ned Colletti, who was highly critical of the team in a radio interview Tuesday, had a private five-minute postgame conversation Wednesday with outfielder Matt Kemp(notes), whose defense and baserunning Colletti questioned.
“You can say what you want to say and think what you want to think,” Kemp said. “I’m going out every day, playing as hard as I can.”
All but six of Los Angeles’ 21 games have been played on the road, but they’ll play 10 straight at home beginning against the Pirates (9-12), who have been outscored 33-10 in losing five straight at Los Angeles.
That margin seems minuscule compared to the one Pittsburgh suffered through during its seven-game skid April 20-26. The Pirates were outscored 72-12 - the worst seven-game margin in more than a century - that included their 22nd loss in a row at Milwaukee on Monday, 17-3.
Pittsburgh rallied from a ninth-inning deficit to end the streak Tuesday, getting a solo homer from Ronny Cedeno(notes) and a grand slam from Ryan Doumit(notes) in a 7-3 victory. On the cusp of defeat again Wednesday, Doumit tied the score 4-4 in the ninth with a solo shot and the Pirates left town with a 6-5, 14-inning win.
Brian Burres(notes) (0-1, 9.31 ERA) will get the call Thursday in a spot start as the Pirates try to fill the injured Ross Ohlendorf’s(notes) spot in the rotation. Burres has started once, allowing six runs over four innings in a 9-3 loss at San Francisco on April 12 while contributing to the rotation’s major league-worst 8.07 ERA.
He’ll be opposed by Clayton Kershaw(notes) (1-0, 3.13), who gave up three runs, five hits and six walks while lasting 4 2-3 innings in Pittsburgh on April 7, a 4-3 loss in 10 innings. The young left-hander has a 2.45 ERA and has struck out 22 over 18 1-3 in three starts since, however.
Kershaw held Washington to two runs over six innings Saturday despite allowing 11 baserunners, and the Dodgers won 4-3 in 13 innings.