Although Los Angeles is mired in an awful slump, the Dodgers aren’t panicking.
Trying to avoid their sixth loss in a row, the sputtering Dodgers hope to get things turned around Friday night when they face Morton, who has been knocked around in each of his four outings.
Los Angeles (8-14) led the league in batting average (.270) and on-base percentage (.346) last season, but it has been a struggle for the two-time defending NL West champions lately.
The Dodgers seem to have a good opportunity to end their slump against a Pirates team with a major league-worst 6.84 ERA, but the club came out flat Friday, managing a season-low four hits in a 2-0 loss.
Los Angeles has now been shut out three times during a five-game slide, batting .177 while going 4 for 40 with runners in scoring position in those games. The Dodgers lost for the 14th time Friday, a mark they didn’t reach last season until May 22 - their 43rd contest.
“I don’t know why people are panicking. There’s 140 games left,” said Matt Kemp(notes), who is 4 for 21 during the losing streak. “We’ve got a long ways to go, and a lot of time to work out the kinks and the things that we need to work on, and that’s what we’re doing right now. It’s going to happen.”
Despite all these struggles, the Dodgers again appear to have a good chance at getting their offense back on track in this four-game series.
Morton (0-4, 16.20 ERA) has the major’s worst ERA and opponent batting average (.418) for any pitcher with at least 11 innings. He has yielded at least five runs in each of his four starts, and has only made it out of the fourth inning once.
Against Houston on Sunday, the right-hander allowed five runs and five hits in three innings of a 10-3 loss.
Although Morton is scuffling, Pittsburgh (10-12) is planning on sticking with him.
“We still have confidence we can get Charlie turned around and have him win games for the Pittsburgh Pirates,” general manager Neal Huntington told the team’s official website. “It’s tough not to get out of the fourth inning very often for any starter, but especially for a young starter with his good stuff.”
This will be Morton’s first career appearance against the Dodgers.
While Los Angeles is in danger of losing six in a row for the first time since an eight-game skid from Aug. 22-29, 2008, the Pirates are seeking their first four-game winning streak of the season.
Ryan Doumit(notes) got two RBIs on a play that Kemp misplayed into a triple Thursday, and is 6 for 12 with two home runs and seven RBIs in the last three games. The Pirates catcher has a nine-game hitting streak, and is 3 for 6 lifetime against Chad Billingsley(notes) (1-1, 5.40).
After being tagged for 13 runs in 8 2-3 innings in starts against Arizona and Cincinnati, Billingsley had a meeting with Joe Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Billingsley, an All-Star last season with Los Angeles, seemed to respond well, as he limited Washington on Sunday to one run and four hits in six innings of a tough-luck 1-0 loss.
The right-hander showed the same kind of prowess in Pittsburgh on April 8, when he gave up one run and five hits with seven strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings of a 10-2 win. He is 3-0 with a 5.23 ERA in seven games - three starts - against the Pirates.