The Times West Virginian

Pirates

August 16, 2012

Bucs continue slide; Walker hurt in loss

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates lost their third consecutive game and their grip on a National League wild card spot.

They hope they didn’t lose their second baseman to injury, too.

Neil Walker dislocated the pinky finger on his right hand while attempting to turn a double play during the first inning. The Los Angeles Dodgers scored their first run on that play and beat the Pirates 9-3 on Wednesday night.

Walker had an X-ray on his finger that was negative and will see a hand specialist Thursday.

“I’m pretty confident I can avoid the DL,” Walker said after the game. “I had the same injury on a finger on my glove hand in 2009 (in Triple-A), and it healed pretty quickly — though I also tore my PCL at the same time and missed the rest of the season.”

Walker fielded Matt Kemp’s grounder and tumbled over a sliding Mark Ellis as he was forcing him out at second and in the process of throwing to first. Walker landed awkwardly on his right hand and lay on the ground writhing in pain.

“I was kind of coming at the bag at a weird ankle and he kind of clipped my leg,” Walker said. “I ended up rolling forward and as soon as I hit the ground I knew what happened. It was bent like a Z and they (the trainers) had to pop up it back in.”

Clayton Kershaw won his fourth consecutive start and Kemp drove in three runs for the Dodgers, who moved into first place in the NL West.

Kemp had a two-run double and scored during the Dodgers’ three-run fourth against Wandy Rodriguez. Shane Victorino singled and scored in that inning, part of his 3-for-5, two-run game.

Kershaw (11-6) had one of his two singles in the fourth, and he allowed three runs on six hits in eight innings. Kershaw had eight strikeouts and no walks.

The Dodgers have won four straight and six of their last seven games, claiming sole possession of the division lead for the first time since July 13.

“Ultimately we want to be in first place Oct. 3, but it’s always good to feel like you’re in first place and to be in first place,” Kershaw said.

The Pirates lost six of seven, falling into a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL’s second wild card spot. Now that the Dodgers have passed the San Francisco Giants in the NL West, the Giants are a half-game behind Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen hit his career-high 24th home run.

A night after beating the Pirates 11-0, the Dodgers again routed the team they had been chasing for a wild-card spot until Wednesday. Los Angeles, which is 6-0 against the Pirates this season, passed both Pittsburgh and division rival San Francisco in the NL standings.

The Dodgers did not have a home run but tied a season high with 15 hits. Andre Ethier went 3 for 5 with a run and Hanley Ramirez had two hits, a run and an RBI for the Dodgers.

Victorino has a nine-game hitting streak and Kemp has a hit in seven consecutive games.

“We’re a pretty dangerous ballclub right now,” Kemp said.

Gaby Sanchez had two doubles for Pittsburgh, which has lost nine of its past 13 at home and is 3-7 on a season-high 11-game homestand. The Pirates entered the homestand with the best home record in the majors.

Pittsburgh’s players held a team meeting 3 1/2 hours before first pitch, but it failed to help. The Pirates’ combined 17-run margin of defeat the past two games is easily their worst for a two-game stretch this season.

Rodriguez (7-12) remained winless in four starts with the Pirates since being acquired for three prospects in a July 24 trade from Houston. He was charged with five runs on 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings, striking out one.

“I thought I was throwing a lot of good pitches, and they were hitting...” Rodriguez said. “It was hit, hit, hit.”

Rodriguez fell to 0-3 with Pittsburgh, and the Pirates have lost each of his past three starts.

The Dodgers’ first two batters of the game singled against Rodriguez, and Victorino scored on Kemp’s fielder’s choice in which Walker was injured.

Los Angeles answered Garrett Jones’ sacrifice fly in the second with Juan Rivera’s sac fly in the third.

The Dodgers broke the game open with a four-run seventh against Chris Resop. James Loney, Luis Cruz, A.J. Ellis and Kershaw had RBIs in the inning.

NOTES: The Dodgers have beaten the Pirates nine consecutive times dating to last season — a record since the team moved to Los Angeles. The Brooklyn Dodgers beat Pittsburgh 13 straight times in 1952. ... The Dodgers are 12-4 in road games since the All-star break. ... Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett lost a home start for the first time this season in his most recent outing Saturday. He will start the series finale Thursday against RHP Joe Blanton. Blanton is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts with Los Angeles since being acquired in a trade from Philadelphia.

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