Dodgers 8, Pirates 3
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Everything about the Dodgers-Pirates rivalry was how Jim Tracy remembered it. The Dodgers jumping out to an early lead. Olmedo Saenz getting an important hit. The offense being more than good enough.
Tracy’s only problem is he’s now in the opposing dugout.
Jason Repko homered and tripled to drive in four runs in the first two innings, and the Dodgers roughed up their former manager’s new team, beating the Pirates 8-3 Monday in Pittsburgh’s home opener. The Pirates are 1-7—their worst start since they had the same record in 1974, when they went on to win a division title.
“One-and-7 obviously isn’t the way you want to start,” Tracy said. “But the (Dodgers) team I managed last year started 12-2 and we won 71 games. So it’s not a large enough sample size of games. It doesn’t mean this is the kind of team we’re going to be for the next six months.”
Tracy’s Dodgers were 427-383 in five seasons, or 44 games above .500. And nearly half of that edge came from being 20 games above .500 against the Pirates—27-7. Los Angeles is 16-3 in Pittsburgh since 2001 and has won nine of 10 and 19 of 22 overall against the Pirates.
Tracy was allowed to leave by the Dodgers following a 91-loss season that was one of their worst since relocating from Brooklyn in 1958. He became the first former Dodgers manager to oppose the club since Leo Durocher managed the Astros in 1973.
“Obviously, it’s kind of special,” Tracy said.
At least until the game started.
Actor Michael Keaton requested a mulligan and got it after throwing the ceremonial first pitch into the dirt, and responded by throwing a pitch down the middle. Pirates left-hander Zach Duke (0-1) probably wished he could do the same after walking Rafael Furcal ahead of Repko’s first homer, a drive into the left-field seats on an 0-2 pitch. Cody Ross followed later in the first with a run-scoring double as the Dodgers scored two or more runs in the first inning for the fifth time in seven games.
Duke, fifth in the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year voting after going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in half a season, fought with his control all afternoon as the Dodgers opened a 7-0 lead by the fifth. Duke threw only 48 of 94 pitches for strikes.
“I was all over the place,” Duke said. “My release point was all over the place, and I couldn’t make key pitches.”
Duke got into trouble again in the second by walking pitcher Odalis Perez on five pitches, and Furcal doubled ahead of Repko’s two-run triple that made it 5-0.
“I had two strikes on me both of those at-bats and I’m just up there trying to stay alive, put the ball in play and get something out of the at-bat,” said Repko, 0-for-4 against Duke last season. “I had two solid at-bats.”
Saenz added a two-run homer in the fifth during a three-hit day and is 9-of-14 with three homers and 11 RBIs in four games in Pittsburgh over the last two seasons.
“Believe me, I don’t try to get into it,” Saenz said. “Maybe I hit the ball better here than in other parks.”
Perez (1-0) limited the already slumping Pirates to one run and five hits over 5 1-3 innings after giving up seven runs and nine hits in three innings in his first start.
Perez allowed six runners over the first three innings but wasn’t lifted until Franquelis Osoria came on to get Jose Castillo and Humberto Cota in succession with runners on second and third and a run in during the sixth. Takashi Saito also got the Dodgers out of a jam in the seventh, getting Castillo to ground into an inning-ending force play with the bases loaded and two runs in.
The Pirates’ Jason Bay brought a .375 average into the game only to go 1-for-5 and strand seven runners.
“A few guys on this team probably tried to do too much a few times, myself included,” Bay said.
The sellout crowd of 39,129 on a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the mid 60s was the second-largest since PNC Park opened in 2001, topped only by the 39,392 who turned out on Aug. 11, 2002. … Saenz is 6-for-7 with two homers and five RBIs against Duke. … The only other former Dodgers managers to oppose the club since 1900, according to team research, are Chuck Dressen, Casey Stengel and Ned Hanlon. … SS Jack Wilson stole second base in the first, the Pirates’ first stolen base in eight games. … The Pirates were 3-5 after eight games last season before finishing with 95 losses. … The Dodgers haven’t lost a series to Pittsburgh since 1998.