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Pirates Ride Seven-Run Second Past Ohtani and the Dodgers

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Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales celebrates as he crosses home plate after hitting a two-run home run off Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Colin Rea during the second inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, July 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH—The Pirates took the game and the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night, putting up seven runs in the second inning and cruising to an 10-6 win.

Paul Skenes set the tone in the first, striking out two of the best hitters on the planet—Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani—on a combined seven pitches. Skenes went on to pitch five innings, striking out eight batters and allowing three runs. Nick Gonzales tied a career high with four RBI, knocking in two runs apiece with a double and a single.

The Pirates batted around in the second, chasing Dodgers’ starter James Paxton from the mound after just five outs recorded. Edward Olivares walked and Ke’Bryan Hayes singled to begin the rally, moving into scoring position on an error. Gonzales notched a broken-bat double that dribbled down the right field line, scoring them both, before Yasmani Grandal, Bryan Reynolds and Olivares notched RBI singles of their own.

A passed ball allowed Reynolds to trot home, completing the extra point before the inning came to an end.

Buccos Go Back and Forth

Ohtani got revenge on Skenes in his next at-bat, crushing a belt-high fastball to straightaway center for a two-run homer.

The Dodgers plated one run apiece in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, forcing Skenes out of the game and chipping away at the lead.

Olivares singled and Hayes walked in the bottom of the fifth, advancing after a pick-off throw skipped into the outfield. Gonzales lifted a fly ball to the opposite-field warning track, pushing the lead to 8-3 as Olivares came home.

The Pirates added two more runs in the seventh with RBI singles from Hayes and Gonzales.

Pittsburgh avoided disaster in the eighth, when Ohtani got just under a 3-2 pitch with two on and two out. Skied at a 46 degree launch angle and leaving the bat at 100.9 miles per hour, the ball fell into Olivares’ glove in the right field corner.

David Bednar entered in the ninth against the heart of the Dodgers’ order. He forced a pair of dangerous pop-ups to no man’s land, then put the game on ice with a grounder to second.

The Pirates (29-32) look to take their series with Los Angeles beginning at 6:40 p.m. Thursday. Bailey Falter (3.22 ERA, 38 strikeouts in 64.1 innings) will take the mound for Pittsburgh. The Dodgers will counter with Walker Buehler (4.32 ERA, 24 strikeouts in 25 innings).

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