PITTSBURGH (AP) — The stadium was different. So was the atmosphere, the stakes and even the uniform Joe Musgrove was wearing.
The results when Joc Pederson stepped into the batter’s box against Musgrove were not.
Seven months after taking Musgrove deep twice in the World Series, Pederson’s two-run homer helped propel the surging Los Angeles Dodgers to a 5-0 victory over Musgrove and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Musgrove won a World Series ring as a reliever in Houston last season, but both at bats against Pederson in the Fall Classic ended with the Los Angeles center fielder trotting around the bases. Pederson made it three homers in three at bats against Musgrove when he sent a cutter that didn’t cut into the right-field seats in the second inning.
Asked why he’s had such success against Musgrove, Pederson just shrugged.
“I don’t know,” Pederson said after hitting his third home run in three games. “I was able to capitalize on a mistake today.”
Something the surging Dodgers are doing plenty of lately. Yaisel Puig and Cody Bellinger also homered for the Dodgers, who have won four straight and 14 of 18 to climb back to .500 (30-30) for the first time since April 24 despite a rash of injuries that have decimated the defending National League champions.
“We’ve kind of stayed the course and kept playing and not letting things that we can’t control affect us,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Credit goes to all the players and the coaches. They’ve been going at it. For us to get back to .500, we’re back in the mix. So now the goal is to keep playing good baseball.”
Ross Stripling (4-1) remained unbeaten as a starter this season, striking out seven while giving up four singles in five innings. Stripling moved into the starting rotation out of necessity in late April and is making a case to stay there regardless of who is available. He improved to 4-0 with a 0.72 ERA in his last four starts and worked out of the only real trouble he faced when he forced Josh Harrison to fly out with the bases loaded in the fifth.
“When Dave texted me and told me I was starting against Arizona now seven starts ago, I was pumped,” Stripling said. “I just wanted the opportunity again. A chance to go up and start.”
While Los Angeles is emerging out of an early season funk, Pittsburgh is spiraling. The Pirates have dropped been shut out three times in a week and dropped 13 of 17 overall to fall to .500 (30-30) for the first time this season. Corey Dickerson had two of Pittsburgh’s seven hits — all singles — but the Pirates only reached third base once.
“We need everybody involved in the offense and right now that’s really not happening,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
Musgrove, acquired as part of an offseason trade that sent Gerrit Cole to the Astros, was dominant in his first two starts for the Pirates but surrendered four runs, three earned in five innings and his struggles against Pederson continued when a 1-0 cutter crashed into the stands.
“It just wasn’t a good pitch,” Musgrove said.
Matt Kemp added a sacrifice fly in the third, Puig led off the fourth with his seventh home run and Bellinger — mired in a 5 of 54 slump — took a Tyler Glasnow curveball and smacked it off the batter’s eye in center in the sixth and the Dodgers were in firm control.
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was given the day off to deal with an achy wrist. … LHP Rich Hill (blisters) pitched three innings, two with a cover on the problematic spot on the middle finger with his left hand and another inning without the cover. Roberts said the team will try to see if Hill can be stretched out next time. While the 38-year-old has volunteered to work out of the bullpen, Roberts indicated it’s more likely he returns to the rotation when he’s ready to come off the disabled list.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (sprained right ring finger) threw around 30 pitches in a simulated game without complications. Hurdle said the team will know more about Nova’s next step on Wednesday. … SS Jordy Mercer was scratched shortly before first pitch due to flu-like symptoms.
Dodgers: Caleb Ferguson will make his major-league debut on Wednesday. The 21-year-old is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA this season in Triple-A Tulsa.
Pirates: Trevor Williams (5-3, 3.84) will look for his first victory since May 15. Williams is 0-1 with a 7.80 ERA in his last three starts.