PITTSBURGH (AP) Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
Polanco, hitting just .133 in his previous 11 games, smacked a bases-loaded single with two outs in the sixth to put Pittsburgh in front for good.
Neil Walker went 2 for 4 with his 15th homer and three RBIs. Ike Davis finished with three hits, including his sixth home run.
Vance Worley (3-1) overcame some shaky defense behind him to win for the first time in nearly a month.
Adrian Gonzalez smacked his 15th long ball of the season and finished with three RBIs for the Dodgers. Paul Maholm (1-5) took the loss after replacing ineffective starter Josh Beckett, who struggled in his return from a hip injury.
Polanco took the majors by storm upon his highly anticipated arrival on June 10. He hit .299 over his first 24 games before cooling off considerably after July 4. Manager Clint Hurdle gave the 22-year-old the night off Monday hoping to hit the reset button.
The little downtime provided immediate dividends.
The lanky right fielder hit a rainbow home run to the seats in right field off Beckett in the second for the fourth homer of his career. He provided an even bigger boost in the sixth after the Dodgers had rallied from an early three-run deficit to tie the game at four.
Stepping to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, Polanco laced a single to left field off reliever Jamey Wright to score Russell Martin and Davis to put the Pirates up 6-4. Travis Snider followed with an RBI single and Polanco scampered home on a wild pitch by Wright to give Pittsburgh a seemingly comfortable 8-4 lead.
The comfort didn’t last long.
Pittsburgh reliever Justin Wilson was ejected in the top of the seventh after hitting Justin Turner with a pitch after Wright plunked Pirates star Andrew McCutchen minutes earlier. Hurdle joined Wilson in the clubhouse after getting tossed by third base umpire Jeff Nelson.
Gonzalez followed with a lined shot to the seats in right-center to draw the Dodgers to 8-6. Scott Van Slyke pulled Los Angeles within a run in the eighth with the Dodgers’ first pinch-hit homer of the year before Pittsburgh touched reliever Chris Perez for four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Beckett was in the middle of a late-career renaissance when his left hip flared up in a victory over Colorado on July 8. The rust showed in his return. The Pirates touched the veteran right-hander for four runs in 3 2-3 innings, three of them coming on solo home runs by Walker, Davis and Polanco.
Beckett had allowed just one earned run in his previous 27 innings pitched on the road.
Worley was far more efficient. The play behind him was not. The Dodgers turned Pedro Alvarez’s MLB-leading 22nd error into two runs in the third and scored two more to tie it in the sixth when Josh Harrison – Alvarez’s replacement – threw a ball into the stands to spark a two-run rally as the Dodgers pulled even.
No matter, the Pirates went to work against the Los Angeles bullpen to improve to 33-21 at PNC Park, the best home record in the National League.
NOTES: Alvarez left the game after the fourth inning due to discomfort in his left knee. … Walker is 10 for his last 17 (.588). … The series wraps up on Wednesday when Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano (1-7, 4.43 ERA) faces Dan Haren (8-7, 4.30).
Updated July 22, 2014
w4 © 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.