Loney, Rivera homer in Dodgers’ win over Pirates
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Ted Lilly(notes) is just getting his second wind at age 35. James Loney(notes) is trying to salvage something from a miserable season. Juan Rivera(notes) is giving the Los Angeles Dodgers a reminder of what they’ve missed in the middle of their lineup and some hope for next season.
Loney hit his second three-run homer in two nights, Rivera added a two-run shot and Lilly pitched seven sharp innings, leading the Dodgers to a 6-1 victory over the Pirates on Saturday night.
Lilly (10-14) allowed a run and four hits, struck out seven and walked two. The two-time All-Star, winding up his first full season with the Dodgers, joined CC Sabathia(notes) and Mark Buehrle(notes) as the only left-handers to reach double digits in wins during each of the past nine seasons. Lilly has a 2.67 ERA over his past 10 starts, lowering his overall ERA to 4.27.
“I’m pretty happy with the accomplishment,” said Lilly, who had a career-high 17 wins in 2008 with the Chicago Cubs. “In a way, I think I surprised myself. I’ve been fortunate to be able to keep going out there and make all my appointments, so to speak. I look back over those nine years, and I’ve worked hard and done everything I can to be prepared. Basically, I’m going out there and giving it everything I have every five days.
“I lost a lot of games where I got outpitched by the other guy,” Lilly said. “This is about competing, and the object is to win. I’m not going out there for a ‘quality start.’ The goal is to win the game in any way necessary. For the most part this year, I’ve been on the short end of the stick on a lot of those games. I need to pitch better. That’s the bottom line.”
“By no means do I see the end near,” Lilly added. “I feel like there’s a lot of my own personal goals that have yet to be met, and one of those goals is to be playing at the end of October. And I haven’t really had an opportunity to do that, so hopefully that happens sooner than later.”
All-Star Matt Kemp(notes) scored his 100th run in the third inning on Rivera’s homer and stole his 40th base in the sixth, becoming the first player in Dodgers franchise history with at least 40 steals, 100 runs scored, 100 RBIs and 30 home runs.
“I didn’t even to know I was the first person to do that, so that surprises me to hear that,” Kemp said. “I definitely set personal goals at the start of the season, but I don’t talk about them because my goals wouldn’t come true if I did. I try to come close to reaching them if I can.”
James McDonald(notes) (9-9) threw 76 pitches over three innings and giving up five runs and seven hits. It was his first appearance against the team that drafted him in the 11th round of the 2002 draft and brought him up to the majors for the first time in 2008.
McDonald matched his shortest outing in 30 starts this season. He also pitched three innings in a 9-5 loss at Florida on April 21, giving up eight runs and six hits.
The Pirates acquired McDonald from Los Angeles at last year’s non-waiver trade deadline. Saturday was the third anniversary of his big league debut, when the lanky right-hander pitched a perfect inning of relief at Pittsburgh and struck out two. He was 5-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 53 appearances with Los Angeles, including five starts.
“Maybe I tried to put too much emphasis on this outing because it was the Dodgers,” McDonald said. “Maybe I let the game speed up instead of just kind of stepping back and slowing it down. It’s something I’ll learn from. I wasn’t getting ahead of guys. When you get behind good hitters who have an idea, things are not going to work out your way. I should have been more aggressive in the strike zone early in the count.”
The Dodgers grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first, as Loney drove a first-pitch homer into the pavilion seats in right-center for his 11th of the season and the 23rd allowed by McDonald.
In Friday’s series opener, Loney ended a homerless drought of 57 at-bats on a full count against reliever Chris Resop(notes) while pinch-hitting for Justin Sellers(notes) in the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 7-2 win. The only other time this season that Loney homered in consecutive games was Aug. 26-27, including a tying solo shot off Colorado’s Rafael Betancourt(notes) in the ninth inning of a game the Dodgers won 7-6 in 11.
Loney didn’t get his average above .250 until June 12, when he had three hits including a home run at Colorado. Since Aug. 21, he is batting .368 with six homers and 21 RBIs and has raised his season average to .276.
Kemp led off the third with a single and Rivera followed with his fourth home run since joining the Dodgers in a trade with Toronto on the day of the All-Star game.
Pirates catcher Matt Pagnozzi(notes), the nephew of former St. Louis catcher Tom Pagnozzi, made his Pirates debut in the fifth as a pinch-hitter for reliever Aaron Thompson(notes) and hit an opposite-field single on the second pitch he saw.
Once he puts on the gear, Pagnozzi will become the eighth different catcher used this season by manager Clint Hurdle—the most by the Pirates since 1953 and one shy of the franchise record set in 1914.
Notes: The Dodgers were eliminated from the NL wild-card race Saturday with Atlanta’s 1-0 victory over the New York Mets. … Lilly had a career-high 17 wins in 2008 with the Chicago Cubs. … Pagnozzi became the 52nd player used by the Pirates, breaking the previous club record set last season. … The Pirates are 17-40 since July 19, when they were 51-44 and led the NL Central by a half-game. They have since plummeted to a season-worst 21 games out of first place. … Rivera ended an 0-for-19 drought with a first-inning single. In 53 games with the Dodgers, he is hitting .283 with 37 RBIs.
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