PITTSBURGH: Mookie Betts hit the 25th leadoff home run of his big league career and the Los Angeles Dodgers kept up their dominance of the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 6-3 win on Thursday.
Betts took the third pitch he saw from Mitch Keller (3-7) and sent it into the bullpen beyond the centerfield fence for his sixth homer this season. Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner had two hits each and Zack McKinstry drove in two runs as Los Angeles won its 13th straight over the Pirates. Phil Bickford picked up his first save when the game was called with one out in the top of the eighth inning after a rain delay of 1 hour, 15 minutes.
Julio Uras (9-2) became the first nine-game winner in the majors by working six innings to give Los Angeles’ overtaxed bullpen a little bit of a breather. Uras added a two-run single in the third off Keller after the Pirates intentionally walked catcher Austin Barnes to load the bases with two outs.
The victory gave the Dodgers their sixth series sweep this season. It also matched their longest winning streak ever against Pittsburgh. They took 13 consecutive games from the Pirates from May 4-July 20, 1952, when the franchise was in Brooklyn.
Keller, who left his previous start last Friday after just two innings with what the team called heat-related illness, remains a bit of an enigma. Penciled in to be part of the core of the team’s rotation as the franchise goes through a massive overhaul, the 25-year-old struggled with his command. He walked three and hit a pair of batters while lasting just 2 2/3 innings and throwing only 41 of his 72 pitches for strikes.
Bryan Reynolds hit his team-leading 10th home run for the Pirates. Adam Frazier extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games but Pittsburgh has dropped four straight and is 11-27 over its last 38 games after briefly ticking over .500 (12-11) in late April.
Los Angeles relievers covered 7 1/3 innings in a rain-delayed 2-1 win on Wednesday night. Uras wasn’t particularly sharp he allowed at least one base runner in each of the first four innings but avoided major trouble.
Having Betts patrolling right field helps. Betts saved a run when he made a brilliant play to throw out Pittsburgh’s Erik Gonzlez at the plate in the second. The five-time Gold Glover tracked down a sinking line drive off the bat Ka’ai Tom in shallow right then did a 360-degree spin before throwing home, where his one-hopper arrived just before Gonzlez could slip his left hand under catcher Austin Barnes’ sweeping tag.
Uras allowed three runs on six hits in six innings, without issuing a walk. His only major mistake coming on a 1-2 curveball to Reynolds with two outs in the third that Reynolds golfed into the left-field seats to pull the Pirates within 4-3. Uras has also proven handy with a bat in his hands. His sharp single to right off Keller in the third drove in two runs and boosted his RBI total this season to seven in just 29 plate appearances. He had just four RBIs in the first four seasons of his career combined entering 2021.
Pirates: Placed RHP Luis Oviedo on the 10-day injured list retroactive to June 7 with a left quadriceps strain and activated RHP Trevor Cahill. … 1B Colin Moran was held out of the lineup a day after taking a pitch off the hand of Los Angeles reliever David Price.
Dodgers: Return to Dodger Stadium on Friday to start a three-game set with Texas. Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 3.66 ERA) faces Mike Foltynewicz (1-6, 4.75) in the opener.
Pirates: Travel to Milwaukee on Friday for a three-game series with the Brewers. Chase De Jong (0-0, 5.40) starts against Brandon Woodruff (4-2, 1.42 ERA).
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